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These days, stress may be the norm but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy, and taking a little time to shrug off your obligations and, well, do nothing could be the cure to stress relief as well as creativity and problem-solving.
The Dutch concept of niksen literally means doing nothing, letting your mind wander without purpose. This is not the same as being mindful, however, because with niksen, you should just “be” — stare out a window and daydream, sit quietly and listen to music — so long as what you’re doing is not done in order to achieve something. Research indicates that daydreaming and/or being bored can boost creativity because even when you’re seemingly doing nothing, your brain is still working hard, processing and digesting information that it can later use to solve problems or come up with creative and innovative ideas.
Carve out five or 10 minutes during your day and — do nothing. Experts warn against ruminating, especially about negative things that can increase your stress level and negate the positive effects of niksen. Instead, try to be creative, imaginative and forward-thinking, which research indicates can reduce stress and even improve immunity.
Uncomfortable sitting around “wasting” time? Combine niksen with a mindless sort of activity such as doodling or coloring — a simple task with no real purpose — which may help you give yourself permission to just be.