‘Stress-free zones’ to ease final exam studying

Chess piecesAs final exams week approaches, students often find their stress levels rising.

To help students relax as they complete end-of-semester projects and prepare for final exams, NIU Health Enhancement will open its “Stress-Free Zones” from Monday, Dec. 2, through Thursday, Dec. 5.

Daytime hours are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday in the Glass Gallery Lounge of the Holmes Student Center.

Evening hours are scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. in four locations:

  • Monday, Dec. 2: Gilbert Hall Assembly Room
  • Tuesday Dec. 3: New Hall Community Center Swing Space
  • Wednesday, Dec. 4: Grant C Tower Formal Lounge
  • Thursday, Dec. 5: Stevenson Towers Multipurpose Room

Health Enhancement will provide an area for students to take stress assessments so they have a better understanding about what is causing them stress.

“We are now in our third year of offering this program; participants have found it overwhelmingly helpful,” said Donna Schoenfeld, director of Health Enhancement.

According to post-participation evaluations from previous semesters, students are well aware of how stress affects them. The types of activities offered during the Stress Free Zones show students that stress management does not need to be an expensive or time consuming activity. Rather, simple activities that clear the mind for a brief period of time are beneficial.

Stress management information and other resources will be provided in addition to the following planned activities to help students unwind:

Card and Board Games
These activities help decrease stress by provided a positive outlet to nervous energy. Additionally, it can temporarily help take one’s mind off of finals and other stressors, and is a great way to socialize with friends.

A photo of crayonsColoring
Engaging in creative activities is another great way of managing stress. The person is focused on something fun from their childhood rather than on the stress. It allows the mind to clear, and the body to have a way to release some anxiety.

Play-Doh
Similar to coloring, Play-Doh is nostalgic; it can trigger a happy childhood memory. Playing with Play-Doh allows people to be distracted from whatever is the cause of stress. Molding the clay also exerts physical energy, which is calming and helps remove stress.

Massage
Stress-related muscle tension in the neck, shoulders, and back occurs because of poor blood flow and lack of movement in those areas. A massage will help to loosen and relax muscles as well as increase blood flow to those areas.

Therapy Dogs
Contact with animals has been known to have a positive effect on people who are dealing with large volumes of stress. Students can pet and enjoy the company of trained therapy dogs.

For more information, call (815) 753-9755 or email healthenhancement@niu.edu.

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