Relaxation room at Searle fights stress with serenity

Sara Melillo

Stress levels are climbing exponentially as midterms continue, but Northwestern health educators are fighting back with a new relaxation room at Searle Student Health Service.

Organizers say the room, which opened Wednesday, provides a place for students to meditate, study or read because dormitories cannot always provide an isolated area for relaxation.

“We invite students to come in and use it at their leisure,” said Marissa Vicario, healthy lifestyles coordinator for the peer health educators. “They can make appointments or come in whenever they have any amount of time to relax.”

The room, located in the basement of Searle, features a leather recliner, a soothing fountain and relaxation music, said Health Educator Patti Lubin. Cream-colored walls and dimmed lighting are intended to soften the mood in the small room. Students are welcome to bring their own music selections to personalize their relaxation, Lubin said.

Peer health educators have been working since Fall Quarter to develop the relaxation room, and Lubin said stress management remains one of their top priorities.

“As peer health educators, we notice that stress is an issue for a lot of Northwestern students because of their heavy course load and intense competition,” said Vicario, a Medill senior.

The relaxation room is just the latest addition to the arsenal of stress management tools peer health educators provide for NU students. They also offer stress awareness firesides, massages and educational pamphlets, said peer health educator Victoria Thompson.

The relaxation room is especially exciting, she said, because it provides a facility for students to practice all of the stress management techniques they have learned through education efforts.

“The room is a more active way to help yourself relax,” said Thompson, a Weinberg senior.

Some students said the room would be a great addition, but others said they didn’t know if they would take advantage of it.

“It sounds like a good idea, but I don’t know if I would really use it,” said Tara Flippin, a Weinberg freshman. “When I want to relax, I go back to my room to be alone.”

Peer health educators said they’ll urge students to utilize the room.

“We hope it will be permanent,” Thompson said. “We hope people will use it and we expect them to.”

The relaxation room is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students can use the room on a walk-in basis or call 491-2146 to schedule an appointment.