Burnout occurs when you’re constantly exposed to stress. It mostly affects at work but can happen from parenting, projects, or being a house spouse. It’s a state of physical and mental exhaustion that can take the joy out of your career and personal relationships. The thing about burnout is that it depletes energy and increases stress, considering you’re stressed already.
The Dutch have a routine known as niksen, which has blown up in the world as a way to deal with burnout. It first became popularised in 2019 as a method to recover from burnout. Niksen means “doing nothing without a purpose.” Carve out time to do nothing—no meditation, no scrolling social media, no exercise. Letting your mind wander wherever it wants to go.
How do you know you’re burnt out?
Having healthy mental well-being makes it easier to handle stress. When you feel exhausted and overwhelmed, you may be experiencing burnout. The more specific signs and symptoms of burnout are:
- Digestive problems
- Constantly falling sick
- Inexplicable loss or increase in appetite
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Reduced productivity
- Craving substances to cope with the mental load
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, depression, stress, and anxiety symptoms, especially when you’re dealing with work, then you may have burnout and should consider niksen.
The Dutch way to recover from burnout
Since the pandemic, people have been re-examining their relationship with time and how to create a work-life balance. However, current generations are more stressed out than ever. Millennials are considered the burnout generation. They have to find ways to manage the stress of overworking without any work-life balance to survive. Niksen is one of the ideal solutions to stress because it dampens the stress of always being on it at work.
There is a lot of pressure placed on working adults. Even wellness trends make too many demands. You must meditate, exercise, eat well, learn a language, read a book, be mindful, and be present. Wellness can feel exhausting too. Life becomes a performance for your job, family, and friends. You have to be the best version of yourself everywhere. Slacking off is giving up. But niksen provides an outlet for all this pressure to dissipate. Making the time to decompress and do nothing on purpose feels like releasing a valve.
Niksen is like a factory reset. When you do nothing, you return to a default status where you can recalibrate your energy levels and get ready to rejoin your roles. Letting your brain rest can improve memory and focus when you return to work.
The Dutch have cultures where they focus more on enjoyment than being overburdened by capitalism. Local Dutch people love spending time on beaches, walking, swimming, or cycling when the sun comes out. You can emulate the same culture where possible. If you work near a park or a place with gardens or forests, take some time to walk or cycle through the area. Intending to do nothing but be in the moment. This can be healthy and restorative even if you’re not burnt out.
Is niksen enough?
Multiple factors cause burnout. It can be because of being overworked, monotony, pressure, taking no breaks from working, no support, insomnia, or perfectionism. Niksen is a band-aid solution to help your brain reset and return to work. But you may need to re-examine your life if you feel burnt out. If your job allows it, you can take a sabbatical to help fully recover from burnout.
You may need to contact your friends if you can’t leave work or change your current role. You can also reframe your schedule and make time to relax. Get creative and messy, and do small mindless projects without an end goal. You can also journal every evening to find a way to decompress. Niksen won’t fix your mental health, but it can help you avoid a mental breakdown or briefly restore your mental health.
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