“Student life is a stressful gig,” said Zac Brown, assistant director of communications for the Pat Walker Health Center, as he talked about the center’s new Lane Marrs’ Relaxation Room at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).
The Relaxation Room offers a space for students to take an intentional break between their classes and take time out of their days to relax. While students can always come in and speak with a counselor, the goal of the Relaxation Room is to be a step before leading up to meeting with a therapist. The Relaxation Room currently helps more than 20 students per day.
Lane Marrs was a freshman at the University of Arkansas in 2016. She was a student for just six weeks before she passed away from suicide. GoFundMe donations were raised shortly after her death and part of the donations were given by her family to the Pat Walker Health Center to establish the Relaxation Room.
Jan Marrs, Lane’s mother, is very moved about what the Relaxation Room is doing for students. “Losing our daughter was such a tragic situation. The university embraced our family and did everything they could to support us,” Jan Marrs said. “The Relaxation Room is inspiring. It helps people get better. Its location is close to the support structures that those folks need. The room helps people see other opportunities that can help them.”
The overarching goal of CAPS is to increase the number of access points to mental health resources. These different steps help open the door to students who need it. Any University of Arkansas student can use the Relaxation Room, you do not have to be a client of CAPS.
“How can we pay attention to stress and distress, before it comes to the point of functional impairment,” Josette Cline, director of CAPS, said. “How can we get ahold of that stress before it becomes unbearable?”
Putting the Relaxation Room to the Test
I decided to put the Relaxation Room to the test. The room was easy to find on the second floor of Pat Walker Health Center. As soon as I walked into the CAPS waiting area, the Relaxation Room was to my left. As I walked in, I noticed a couple other students who were utilizing the massage chairs and one of the massive bean bags. I sat in a massage chair, fiddled with the settings for a few minutes, and before I knew it, I was asleep.
After waking up about thirty minutes later, I moved over to the recently unoccupied, and gigantic, beanbag. The beanbag encompassed me, and I fell asleep once again. This concluded my first trip to the Relaxation Room.
On my second trip, I focused more on the ambiance of the room and the overall atmosphere. The TV had a visual of a running creek with autumn leaves and mossy rocks. The water sound was serene. I sat down in a comfy aqua chair with the sound of water behind me. I was able to forget that I had a test coming up the next day and focus on spending time in the Relaxation Room at that moment.
I was able to go home with a well-rested mind. I finished studying for my exam and did my homework without distractions. The Relaxation Room allowed me to destress enough to focus on the tasks I had to complete for the rest of the day.
Having a place like this on campus is super helpful for any student who needs to take a few minutes out of their day to relax and destress. It is incredibly important to take time for yourself and can make you more productive in the long run.
CAPS offers group therapy and various workshops funded through the student health fee, so there is no cost for students to attend.
Photos: Shane White