by Steph Santo
I attended my 40th high school reunion recently and part of the weekend included a tour of the school. Few changes were made since I last saw those hallways and classrooms in 1979. The one change however that stayed top of mind the rest of my visit was the “wellness room” that replaced the old home economics room. Though I wish the cooking and sewing classes were still offered – for both boys and girls – I appreciated the addition of this new room. It seemed very progressive for the little town where I grew up.
What is a “Wellness Room”?
A “Wellness Room” is a room which serves as a safe haven for students and staff; It looks like a trendy hang-out center, but serves a higher purpose: individuals can go here when they feel stressed. The room features low lighting, comfortable seating options, and a myriad of stress-relieving games. People can use the puzzles, silly putty and noise cancelling headphones to help decrease stress. Mindfulness tools such as breathing exercises and videotapes are also available to encourage meditation and help become more aware of one’s surroundings.
Why have a wellness room and mindfulness tools?
Anxiety among both teens and adults seems much greater now than when we were young. Stress seems to be a bigger problem for both students and staff today than when we were young and schools and offices around the country have noticed. People need a chance to take a break from their hectic lives when they feel overwhelmed.
According to Denette Mann,M.Ed’s website featuring her Living Better With Mindfulness program, a mindfulness practice is important for wellness, improved job performance and better relationships, including the relationship with self. This type of practice helps us to calm our minds.
“Nowadays we are all trying to get a lot done in a small amount of time. There’s pressure to produce and quite frankly, we think we’re working on something important all the time. Brain science tells us that 50% of the time, our mind is wandering into the future or past, trying to find things that went wrong, that need to be fixed. The survival part of our brain naturally looks unconsciously for danger within our environment – every 4 seconds.”, she says.
The bottom line
As per the National Center for Education Statistics, about 56.6 million students attended elementary, middle and high school across the U.S. in 2019. Statistics also show more than 156 million full-time workers in this country spend most of their waking hours at their workplace. Employers and school administrators therefore have an opportunity to foster safe environments to encourage better mental health for those who frequent their hallways.
Wellness rooms are sometimes called by other names such as serenity or self-care rooms, but whatever the name used, lets applaud those who place a high value on well-being. I am encouraged to see these wellness centers starting to be incorporated into schools and the workplace and hope this important trend continues.
Do you know of a school or workplace with this type of set-up? Please share the information in the comment section below!