The Relaxation Room is for UK students to learn and practice a variety of skills to help with stress management and relaxation. There are a variety of services and equipment available for students to use to balance the stresses of their studies and promote confidence and calmness in their daily lives.
Relaxation comes from deliberate attention to our mind and body through a variety of practiced skills and activities. When you come to the Relaxation Room you can practice these skills and engage in a variety of activities that can soften or soothe the stress or other difficulties you are experiencing. Some of these skills are oriented toward calming the mind and slowing down our thinking. Others incorporate physical relaxation or stimulation of the body.
Biofeedback is simply information, or feedback, from your body about your biological functioning. It is used to help people become more aware of their internal reactions and responses to stress or other emotional and somatic experiences. Many of these signals within our bodies are ignored until they become elevated or develop into ongoing problems such as chronic stress, anxiety, depression, or pain. Biofeedback can be helpful to raise awareness of physiological reactions and show the effect of strategies used to help regulate emotional reactions and increase a sense of stability and calm. With consistent practice, biofeedback is a helpful way to show progress in developing healthy practices that will benefit you throughout your life.
One of the most commonly used indicators for biofeedback is heart rate variability (HRV), or the variable length of time between heartbeats. Our heart responds continuously to emotional and physiological inputs and is a helpful indicator of how emotionally aroused or calm our body is. The biofeedback programs and software available in the Relaxation Room utilize HRV to help you practice stress management and relaxation strategies.
Practice relaxation and optimal breathing strategies through car-racing or jet-ski riding. Learn to let go and enjoy a calm cruise around a tropical island, or challenge yourself to learn to stay calm under pressure in a fast-paced race.
Meditation is the practice of turning your attention to an experienced point of reference. Often this is focusing on the breath, on physical sensations in the body, or on a word or phrase repeated in our mind, often referred to as a mantra. Put simply, meditation is turning our attention away from distracting thoughts and focusing on present moment experiences. It is deceptively simple and can be practiced in a variety of ways.
Mindfulness is a way of meditating in which we pay attention to the present moment without judgment. Rather than clearing or emptying the mind, we notice what is present. In doing so, we slow down the process of thinking and shift into a process of observing and experiencing in new ways. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to be a helpful process in learning to manage and relieve stress and emotional difficulties.
In the Relaxation Room, there are zafu and zabuton cushions for traditional sitting meditation, as well as yoga mats for yoga meditation practice. There are recordings of guided meditations and relaxing music available, as well as links to bookmarked video presentations on meditation, mindfulness, and yoga. Come practice meditation on your own or with friends.
Some people experience lower mood and more irritability during times of the year when there is less sunlight (shorter days in the winter). This can manifest as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or just less energy and lower positive feelings. Increasing your exposure to more light can be effective in boosting mood and allowing the body to better regulate emotions.
In the Relaxation Room there are 2 full spectrum light boxes that are available for students to use for 20-30 minute light therapy sessions. It is recommended that you use the time to read or study so that you are alert and awake, allowing your eyes to receive the light indirectly. You can schedule a time to use the light box by calling the Counseling Center, or walk in to the Relaxation Room during the open hours. Up to 2 students can receive light therapy at a time.
Additionally, a high-intensity negative ion generator will add to the overall rejuvenation of your light therapy experience. Negative ions are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules that we inhale in abundance in some places – visualize waterfalls, mountains, and beaches. Once they reach our bloodstream, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that improve mood, relieve stress, and boost daytime energy. They are more abundant during periods such as summertime when there is more light and biological activity.
Exploring your own creativity and expressive art can be a helpful way to manage stress. You don't need to be a skilled artist to experience the benefits of being creative. Explore your emotions and experiences through the media and materials available in the Relaxation Room. Being creative reduces stress, improves problem solving abilities, and helps to process and gain personal insights.
To assist students in practicing effective stress management and further increase skills in relaxation and well-being, the Wildcat Wellness programs are guided instruction led by Counseling Center clinicians. No appointment is necessary. Just come, learn, and practice fun stress management activities.