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Health Enhancement offer ‘stress-free zones’ next week as students prepare for final exams

November 27, 2012

A photo of stacked crayonsAs 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 four “stress-free zones” from Monday, Dec. 3, through Thursday. Dec. 6.

Daytime hours are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Diversions Lounge of the Holmes Student Center.

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

  • Monday, Dec. 3: Neptune Northeast/Southeast Room
  • Tuesday, Dec. 4: Douglas TV Lounge
  • Thursday, Dec. 6: Stevenson Multipurpose Room

Health Enhancement will provide an area for students to take stress assessments so they gain a better idea of what is stressing them and just how stressed they really are.

“We offered this program fall and spring semester of last year; participants found it overwhelmingly helpful. As a result, Health Enhancement is offering the stress-free zones the last week of classes this semester as well as next,” said Donna Schoenfeld, director of Health Enhancement. “This is intended to be an ongoing program. We want students to take time out for themselves to de-stress in a fun stress-free environment.”

Stress management brochures and other resources – as well as water and healthy snacks – will be provided in addition to the following planned activities to help students unwind:

Card and Board Games

These activities help to decrease stress by provided a positive outlet to nervous energy. Additionally, it can help take your mind off of finals and other things stressing you out for a little while, and is a great way to socialize with friends.


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

Photo of a stack of Play-Doh cansPlay-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 exerts physical energy which helps to calm and remove stress.

Guided Meditation

This technique usually employs light music or nature sounds. Practicing meditation every day for as little as 10 minutes can help people clear their minds and relax their bodies.


Stress-related muscle tension in the neck, shoulders and back occur 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 [email protected].