How do you decompress?

decompress by cooking
Cooking can be a form of decompression

In 1989 I moved to the Cayman Islands, one of the global centres for scuba diving, so naturally, I learned to dive right away. One of the things you learn very quickly in the extensive safety training is all about the need to “decompress” when you return to the surface from depth.

When you go down, the pressure on your lungs at depth is increased. Put simply, if you rush to the surface at the end of the dive, you are in real danger of harm due to rapid expansion of gas in your body as the pressure reduces as you ascend. So, you decompress, you take your time to come up to the surface so your body can adjust at the appropriate (slow) speed.

As a diver, over the decades I’ve used the phrase “decompress” often to refer to adjusting after a period of intensity, whether that be stressful or simply high focus.

This week I had two days in a row of intense work, including 1:1 client work that involved a high degree of focus, of what my mentor Ed Percival called “full-body listening”.

At the end of those two days, I felt the need to decompress, I knew I couldn’t simply “click my fingers” and return to where I was before the work. However, when I thought of how to decompress, my usual routine of exercise or reading didn’t feel right.

At that time, though, my sons had sent me a Father’s Day gift of “make at home” fresh meals. I don’t cook these days anywhere as often as I used to, but that evening I found myself preparing and cooking a meal I’d never tried before, thanks to the well packaged fresh meat and vegetables and step by step recipe.

As I did this, not only did I suddenly feel the “decompression” I needed, I felt myself re-energised around cooking and am sure I’ll start to cook more.

This post goes out on the morning of Saturday July 4th, Independence Day in the USA, and “let’s go back to the Pub” day in England as the government has allowed pubs to re-open. I sense it will be a “messy” day with risks of Covid-19 spread across England, but the decision made to open the pubs will have had something to do with allowing people to “decompress”.

How do you best decompress?

Also published on Medium.