Elzinga believes that it’s much better to do some sort of physical activity to distract you from your daily worries, preferably in nature. But luckily, in the Netherlands, there is a way to combine all these things – niksen, nature and movement.
While the country is not commonly known for its natural resources, the Dutch appreciate the little natural areas they have. Many dune areas – my favorite thing about The Netherlands – are a part of a large network of hiking and cycling routes crisscrossing the country. Even in large cities such as Rotterdam, The Hague or Amsterdam, you’re never too far away from a trail.
In cooperation with the Dutch Railway system, Wandelnet – a foundation devoted to creating and maintaining hiking routes – has created NS Wandelingen, a system of hiking routes that are easy to reach by train or other public transport. They range between 7km and 22km in length, making them perfect for a day trip. And given the many benches along the way, it’s even possible to fit in a little niksen break.
This leisure time is possible for the Dutch because the Netherlands is a country with an excellent welfare system, and while people tend to work hard, they also take (and are granted) many days off.
“Having a good social support system, having a lower stress level relates to feeling secure and in balance. So, I wouldn’t overestimate the importance of that,” said Elzinga.
And with everything going on in the world – the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine – relieving stress is more important than ever.
Why We Are What We Are is a BBC Travel series examining the characteristics of a country and investigating whether they are true.
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