Exploring Relaxation: A Cultural Probe

Pages from Probe Final_v4

The team for this research project included Helen Wills, Russell Flench, and Alisa Weinstein. We sought to understand perceptions of relaxation – what it meant to different people and how we might design for it.

Knowing the connection between stress and chronic illness, this probe was deployed to explore how people incorporate relaxation into their lives. It contained general instructions, a photo checklist, a daily activity and/or reflection journal, picture cards, a treasured moments box, a pen for journaling, and a bag of tea as a thank you.

The activities were meant to provoke participants to think about how they treated themselves, what they do with “me time,” what balance means to them, trigger carefree moments (with photo cards), and to reflect on things they treasure. Results showed that relaxation has many components; reflection, stillness, physical activity, using the senses, having me-time, sharing with others, breaking from the ordinary, having control, and giving.

Further analysis of results lead to the insights that relaxation can’t be stereotyped, takes practice, and often requires reminders.

The following link contains the summary of our study: Cultural Probe