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Sep 16, 2014

The Oasis: JMU's Stress-Free Getaway

Picture of The Oasis

By: Kiara Mauro ('15), Student Affairs Technical Services

According to a Counseling Center study conducted last year, 12 of the top 20 student concerns were related to stress and anxiety. It is reported that college-aged students deal with both academic and social stress on a daily basis, so how can students learn to manage stress more effectively? Rachel Friendly, Ph.D. Staff Psychologist at the Counseling Center states, “Relaxation practices such as meditation have been shown to increase resilience, improve academic performance, and improve subjective well-being in college students in particular.” The Counseling Center created The Oasis, a new relaxation center in their office, to provide students, faculty and staff with opportunities to manage their stress and anxiety.

The Oasis, which officially opened on Wednesday, September 10th, is a peaceful and private space that has many features including massage chairs, aroma therapy, yoga mats, noise-canceling headphones, iPads, and a water sculpture. The iPads serve both as teaching tools and sources of relaxation; they are equipped with a multitude of tools ranging from stress-reduction instructional videos to interactive relaxation apps.

The relaxation center is a resource that students can explore and practice stress-reduction techniques that will benefit them in countless ways. In order to use The Oasis, visitors only need to sign in at the front desk with their JACards and watch a brief orientation video.

In addition to The Oasis, the Counseling Center also has many other new services available. The Studio is the new expressive arts space that provides students with art supplies to work through their stress. The new space also caters to group sessions, including two popular specialized treatment programs called #TacklingAnxiety and You’ve Got This! Olivia Gillies, Graduate Assistant at the Counseling Center, comments, “I am most excited about the accessibility—now there are more opportunities for students to receive help beyond individual counseling because we have the space to offer more group sessions as well as The Oasis and The Studio amenities.”

The Counseling Center held an open house on September 4th and showcased the new space and services. The event was extremely successful; there was a lot of positive feedback and excitement about The Oasis and The Studio. Maggie Rhea (junior) states, “This semester I decided to take on a job alongside my studies. At times it can get pretty stressful. Over the past year I began practicing yoga which has helped me to decompress and relax tremendously. I am really excited to use The Oasis this year.” Students can take advantage of these free services as a way to take a step back from daily stresses and problems this semester.