Stressed students not alone in the Stress-Free Zone

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Editorial Board

 

Stress is a common problem for students in universities. While stress itself is an abstract idea, it can have real physiological effects on your body, from raising your blood pressure to depressing your immune system. It’s important to keep stress levels low to stay healthy, but students may not always know how to do that.

In order to address this health problem, Counseling and Consultation Services opened a peaceful, safe and confidential space to enjoy a full-body massage chair, biofeedback and light therapy—all for the purpose of reducing stress and increasing your mental, emotional and spiritual health. This area is known as The Stress-Free Zone.

The main problem with this zone is that not too many students know about it. Though e-mails containing information about The Stress-Free Zone have been sent from the IWU administration, many students tend to look over these emails and therefore do not know of The Stress-Free Zone or only know of it by word-of-mouth. The Health Center reported that most of the students who use the zone are returning rather than new.

“I think the campaign could be better, since this is a big problem on campus,” senior Ayethaw Tun said.

The Stress-Free Zone is open to all currently enrolled students by appointment and is run by the Counseling and Consultation Services staff, located in Health Services in Magill Hall.

When arriving for an appointment, a counselor walks you through a quick introduction during your first visit. The massage session is 45 minutes long. When you come in and out, an opening and closing questionnaire is taken to evaluate your level of stress to make sure the center is making a positive impact.

The equipment of the zone includes a massage chair, stress balls, pamphlets about stress and anxiety, biofeedback and light therapy. For the biofeedback, a laptop is placed in your lap and you are hooked up to several finger sensors that measure your heart rate/respiration and skin conductance level. These are connected to the laptop, and you then go through an online program that involves different meditation, breathing, mindfulness and relaxation exercises.

Light therapy uses a sunlight box as a source of bright light during fall and winter months. The light is in front of you and angled so that the light shines onto your face. Student’s eyes should be open but they shouldn’t look directly into the light. Research has shown that light therapy can effectively decrease the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)/Winter Blues.

“I don’t know much about it, but I think it’s a great thing for students to keep from getting too overhwlemed with school,” senior Rebekah Smith said.

While all of these features are extremely beneficial and could help reduce stress in the student body, many students simply are unaware of the Stress-Free Zone’s existence.

“I think if there are these good resources available, there should be a way to engage students in learning about them or using them,” senior Lisa Mishra said.

According to Health Services, the Stress-Free Zone is gaining more popularity, but it isn’t being utilized as much as it could be. Having a new service like this on campus is exciting, and deserves more attention. Whether this can be achieved through more flyers or a table set up in the Dug Out, hopefully knowledge about this service will increase.