Almost everyone wants to relax in his or her leisure time. Despite that, the time that we relax and do nothing has decreased, from 2.5 hours in 2006 to 2 hours per week in 2016. Of course, people can relax when walking through the countryside or when engaging in a hobby.

In our increasingly busy and crowded built environment the possibilities for unwinding and slowing down are decreasing. Research has shown that people primarily relax in ancient landscapes with panoramic views. People can also experience peace and quiet in nature and when visiting ancient monuments.

The countryside as a place to unwind

The amount of countryside has failed to keep up with the growth and changing composition of the urban population. For that reason the Health Council of the Netherlands [Gezondheidsraad] recommends creating more green spaces for recreational purposes in and near to towns and cities. In line with that, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency has recommended that areas in which people can unwind should be deliberately protected and expanded.

Reducing stress

A natural environment has a relaxing effect. People need places where there is peace and quiet, or where time seems to stand still, for example in ancient landscapes or near monuments. In the Netherlands, the authorities have designated quiet nature areas where noise levels, should not exceed 40 Decibels. Nature helps people to recover from stress and, with that, improve their (mental) health.

Green spaces close to home

Areas in which to unwind should preferably be close to home and accessible to large numbers of people. The demand for green recreational options in and around towns and cities often exceeds the supply. That is why it is important to focus on nature in the city and attractive links with the countryside. Having green spaces close by is also important for children.

Peace and quiet

As the Health Council of the Netherlands writes, people who live in a noisy environment appear to have a greater need for areas of peace and quiet than people who do not experience any nuisance at home. Nuisance caused by traffic noise in green areas can negate the positive effects.

What is the government doing about this?

The Dutch government has not developed any specific policy on relaxation. You can read more about governmental policies on our pages about related issues, such as Leisure time, Nature and Cultural Heritage.

Places in which to relax

Looking for areas where you can cycle or walk in peace and quiet, or where you can experience history? Please have a look at the location of quiet areas, nature reserves, monuments and country estates on our maps. You should also consult the map if you would like to find out where you will not be disturbed by drones.