Charles Starrett


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Culture consultant & social tech teacher/facilitator at SoulCo & Northeastern University. He/Him. Dad, Harvard and NEC alum, visual thinker, dabbler in ukulele, electronic music, 한국어, and TTRPGs.


Stress hygiene

How often to we check in with our bodies and notice the stress and tension that is building up? Why don’t we regularly clear out that stress the same way we brush our teeth after every meal?

When I was driving home in the rain today, I tried an experiment. Instead of distracting myself by listening to music or a podcast, I tried listening to my body. I noticed where my body was tense because of the stressful drive, and let it relax.

Soon enough, my attention would get pulled away from my body again. I’d see something happening on the road, or I’d get caught up in my thoughts. But whenever I became aware again, I would notice any new tension in my body and try to relax it.

I went through this cycle many times: my attention being away from the body, back to noticing the body, to relaxing the body, and again away from the body. I tried not to judge myself about the tension, or about where my mind went. Just matter-of-factly relaxing my body whenever I remembered to, clearing out the stress that kept accumulating as I drove.

Not feeling bad about needing to repeatedly de-stress any more than I feel bad about needing to repeatedly brush my teeth.

What I noticed was that, despite the stressful drive, when I got home I felt okay. I didn’t feel the usual tension or frayed nerves that I usually carry with me into the house after driving in Boston. Especially in the rain.

It seemed that by taking care of the stress bit-by-bit as it came, there was very little left in me by the time I arrived home.

I encourage you to try this micro practice the next time you’re engaged with a longer, stressful activity, like driving. Find a way to pause from time-to-time, or just shift your attention to your body to de-stress as you go. What do you notice? Please share!

5 September 2022

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