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What is Niksen and how best to Niksen in Nature

Young happy man relaxing lying in hammock on top of mountain.

Niksen is the new Hygge, the modern traveller’s lagom. Niksen is our favourite holiday theme for 2022.

It’s a Dutch concept, quite simply a belief in doing nothing. That’s what we said: nothing, nada, rien. Why, you ask? Well, think about it, how much of your year do you spend doing nothing? Even on holidays, we tend to be full of activity-planning, trip-taking, bbq-prepping action. 

Niksen turns all of this on its head. Sit and take in the beauty of your open-air campsite and do it without a purpose, or an objective. Do it to just be. It’s like mindfulness, without engaging the mind. It’s the daydreaming you weren’t allowed to do in school. Simply sitting, simply looking. The ‘art of living’. Finding out what true relaxation means. 

Benefits of Niksen, doing nothing on holidays

It’s tempting to use this nothing time to scroll the phone, or plan the day, but try to resist. Even in our free time, our heads are constantly occupied. Now that you’re taking an open-air holiday, it’s the perfect time to practise doing nothing and reaping the benefits.

Stress levels are rising across the globe. Doing nothing is an antidote to burnout. It’s a way back to ease and connection. Slowing down has emotional benefits too. It helps us to reduce anxiety and (bonus) can also curtail the ageing process. 

Niksen, or ‘doing niks’, can lead the way to coming up with new ideas. Having down-time allows our brains to process all the information we’ve downloaded and look at it in new ways. Daydreaming can start to reveal our inner dreams, showing up as great solutions or ways forward.

Top tips for doing Niks on your open-air camping holiday

Simply doing nothing is not so simple. Here are some quick-fire tips to get started.

  • Put away the devices.
  • Find a beautiful place to sit in nature.
  • Start by just doing a few minutes at a time. 
  • Sit and that’s it.

Let life go on. Do not feel responsible to always be doing something. Allow yourself to ‘just be’.

Getting the balance, between Niksen and doing fun stuff in the open-air

In lots of ways, taking a holiday in the open-air is already fuelling your life with benefits. You are living in nature and released from the day-to-day pressures of ‘real life.’ One of the joys of camping is the simple life. Less time indoors, more time in freedom. Time feels like it lasts longer. Days start with the sun coming up. We often eat more simply and relax in what we wear, giving us more time to reconnect with family and friends.

The important thing is to allow yourself to enjoy it. Be guilt-free in being non-productive. Be joyous in hanging about on the beach with absolutely no objective, except enjoyment.

Mental health gains of Niksen

Incorporating moments of doing nothing into our daily lives not only helps our mental health, but it also contributes dramatically to our productive processes and enables us to turn out better quality in our daily work or tasks. This is due to rest time, which allows us to be more focused and attentive in what we are doing as the brain has had time to replenish and refresh. Mistakes and clumsiness are more commonplace with a tired, overactive mind so it makes complete sense to take time out wherever possible.

Reconnection to ourselves, others around us, and the natural environment

We can form better relationships if we are not overly worked and stimulated to the point of exhaustion as we have more time to focus on communication with friends or family, rather than stuck to a screen or controlled by our devices, which infringe on our personal mind space. The social interaction we have online cannot replace completely the interactions and communications we use in the physical world. We can also create a better awareness of ourselves and our place in the world as we find the time to reconnect with the wonders of the natural world.

Good physical health

A healthy mind promotes a healthy body. If our minds are relaxed, our bodies follow in tandem and we will see an improvement in our sleep patterns, energy levels, and eating habits, meaning we function better as a whole and don’t suffer so much from physical ailments as our bodies learn to relax.

Practicalities of doing nothing when camping

Useful advice and questions for planning a camping trip and doing nothing at all on holiday.

Where is the best place to do nothing?

The choice is completely yours, pick up your tent or book a campsite to suit your requirements. Try a campsite near to a river in the Loire Valley, mountain locations such as the French Alps or the Pyrenees or choose a more remote location in the Massif Central or the wild plains of the Camargue to enjoy doing nothing in nature.

What activities are best for relaxation?

You can find relaxation in most physical and leisurely activities, be it horse-riding, canoeing, cycling or simply taking a long walk. The closer to nature the better. Water is particularly calming, so gentle water sports or bathing are ideal pastimes to find relaxation. More importantly, try not to over-plan your activities and make numerous checklists to tick off. Instead, simply appreciate the here-and-now this way. Take each day as it arrives and go with what feels right for the day without over-thinking it or planning an itinerary.

Should I leave all devices at home?

This is not always possible, as often when we travel, we need to have our devices on some level for bookings and tickets. However, we can start to practice switching off and limiting our time on screens before we leave to make our transition easier for doing nothing. Consider limiting your connection time and only recharge if necessary. You may find you need your phone less than you thought as your reconnection with nature takes over.

What equipment do I need for a do-nothing camping trip?

Take whatever you feel comfortable travelling with, whether you want to travel light or take more home comforts with you but try not to overburden yourself. The most important thing would be to take warm clothes and comfortable bedding so that you can enjoy your experience of relaxation. Check the climate of your chosen location to pack appropriately for all times of the day and night, you may choose to have a forest walk under the light of a full moon, so remember to pack comfy and warm attire.

Should I take my dog with me on a camping trip?

Absolutely, providing you do not have a demanding dog who does not adapt well to new environments, this will be beneficial for all the family and pet who will enjoy the experience of kicking back and doing nothing but enjoying the natural surroundings that a camping trip will offer.

So, unplug, disconnect, and reconnect with nature for your well-being.

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