Uitwaaien: the Dutch invention you never knew you needed, until now

First, there was the Danish hygge, then there was the Dutch niksen, now the Netherlands brings you the latest in lifestyle wonders: uitwaaien.

Uitwaaien may very well be the next big thing after the magical Dutch Reach. It’s the cure-all to everything life throws at a Dutch person! Stressed? Go uitwaaien. Anxious? Go uitwaaien. Need to relax? Go uitwaaien.

But what exactly is this Dutch phenomenon? An illegal party drug concocted in the liberal Netherlands? A state of mind? A mythical exercise like yoga or pilates? Well, actually, it’s ridiculously simple. Read on, and we’ll tell you what on earth uitwaaien is, what it can achieve, and how to do it like a pro.

What is uitwaaien?

The word literally means “blow out.” That’s not helpful, because it sounds like something that would get you arrested. However, uitwaaien is quite simply an untranslatable word: there is no English equivalent.

(There’s also no English equivalent of abandoning your kids in the woods in the middle of the night — but the Dutch do that too).

Woman-walking-on-the-beach-looking-relaxed-uitwaaien
Go to the beach, clear your head, and let the wind take all your worries. Image: Freepik

The closest we can get to giving this singular word meaning in English is ‘to walk with the wind’. Sounds…spiritual. Also, a lot longer than one single Dutch word — those Dutchies are efficient! ⌚

But don’t go writing uitwaaien off alongside incense and Ouija boards: it’s an incredibly simple and useful practice that is used by most Dutchies at some point in their lives. It’s easy, requires no training, and just feels really, really, good.

How do I go uitwaaien?

It’s one of the simplest Dutch activities — in fact, you’ve probably done it before without even realising it. Follow our simple three-step guide to uitwaaien for best results:

  1. Walk outside,
  2. Feel the wind blowing against your hair, clothes, and body, 🌬
  3. There is no step three.

That’s it! Feel the stress melt away from your body, the wind whisks away any troublesome thoughts, and be the best Dutch version of yourself you can be. 💪

Translation: Walk with your head in the clouds more often. ⛅️ Then life is (even) more beautiful! ❤️

Where should I go uitwaaien?

Ooh, we sense someone itching to try to be the best version of themselves they can be! You go, [reader]! Alright, there’s only one rule: you should be outside.

Couple-walking-together-on-the-beach-in-the-Netherlands-uitwaaien
Best place to go uitwaaien? The beach, where there is a lot of wind! Image: Depositphotos

The best places to clear your head are either the beach (and we have some great recommendations!) or the countryside. Why? Fewer buildings to obstruct the wind = more wind = improved uitwaaien. Promise! 🤝

Who can I go with?

Anyone you want. You can do this with you, yourself, and you. But, you can also choose to enjoy it with a friend, a group, family, or colleagues.

Just remember: if you’re stressing about doing uitwaaien well enough, you’re not doing it well. Relax. 😌

When should I go?

Any time between 00:00 and 23:59. You can go out with the sole purpose of doing it, or it can be entirely coincidental. Any more questions?

Have you tried this Dutch phenomenon before? How did it make you feel? Tell us in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2019, but was fully updated in July 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Freepik
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺https://gallivantations.com
Sam has over six years experience writing about life in the Netherlands and leads the content team at DutchReview. She originally came to the Netherlands to study in 2016 and now holds a BA (Hons.) in Arts, a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and (almost) a Masters in Teaching. She loves to write about settling into life in the Netherlands, her city of Utrecht, learning Dutch, and jobs in the Netherlands — and she still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike (she's learning!).

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Hahahahaaaaaaaaaaa!!!

    I love this website and this article. Reading about how foreigners experience things that are completely natural to us ‘Dutchies’ is the funniest thing. I’m developing a newfound appreciation for my own culture; how funny are we! hahaha!

    Keep it going!

  2. Uitwaaien? The perfect activity to release stress for me. I learned about uitwaaien when I bumped into a guy at the top of the “stranded” submarine in the Marine Museum in Den Helder. He was just standing there, uitwaaien. We started chatting and he explained what an mind blowing thing it can be to just let the wind (at that particular day it was rather a storm) clear your mind. I gave it a try and am hooked since that day.
    Give it a try folks. You don’t have to got to the Netherlands to uitwaaien, but it makes it even better.

  3. I was born in Den Helder, below sealevel and surrounded by sea, sand and dikes on three sides. Uitwaaien is a way of life. I still take my troubles/worries to the wind and water. Preferably during a storm. Better than any pills.

  4. Busy lives, disconnect to what is truly important in life, to just breathe in this ” world gone crazy ” ( covid ) and always.

  5. Hello everyone, writing from outside Boston Massachusetts USA here, and I came across Uitwaaien as a Word of the Day vocabulary word this winter– immediately I LOVED it! Since then, I have been spreading the word so to speak, not only as a wonderful word in itself, but as a practice. It’s been a trying year, having lost my business, a friend, my Mom– but not as trying as many of course, and I have so much to be grateful for. Anyway, felt lousy this am, headache, sinuses, depressed– and when up to the local conservation area. Uitwaaien to the rescue! VERY windy/blustery and it blew all my maladies away! I bumped into two friends up there and shared uitwaaien with them– and he told me I had solved a tremendous riddle for him: his fitbit always DOUBLES the number of ‘floors’ he has hiked when it’s a windy day– he couldn’t imagine what this was from before– so yes, uitwaaien doubles one’s workout!

  6. Cool, although not really relaxing ti do in the middle of a city with the wind on your face. I guess it is much better when you are in actual nature…

  7. I’ve seen this practiced in countries all over the world, so maybe the title should just be “the Dutch have a word for the thing you’re already doing” …

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