Stress relaxation center to be available in spring

By Bridget Maiellaro

Although the west wing of the Intramural Physical Education Building will undergo renovations during the spring 2006 semester, students at the University will still be able to take part in some of its services, such as the SportWell Center. Its services, in addition to several other new developments, will form a new health facility known as Oasis.

Oasis is the new center of rejuvenation, relaxation and health promotion that will be open for students when they return next semester, according to Health Scene, a small packet released by McKinley Health Center. Oasis will be located in the lower level of the Illini Union, where the old Billiard Room was located.

The center will include services that are currently unavailable to students, such as a health products store, professional massages and a multipurpose room that will host a variety of programs and a guided imagery room. The space also will house some current student services, like the SportWell Center and health resource room, currently located on the main level next to the express tickets booth in the Illini Union.

“With SportWell moving over there, we wanted to expand upon that and utilize that space as effectively and to meet students’ needs as much as possible,” said Jennifer Halls-Carson, wellness promotion specialist and stress management coordinator of McKinley Health Center.

Much of the excitement for the Oasis is due to the creation of the guided imagery room, a 20-minute audio-visual experience that involves the use of progressive muscle relaxation. According to Health Scene, no other student union in the nation provides this opportunity.

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The guided imagery room will have about seven recliners located in a “theatre-like” and soundproof room, said Halls-Carson. On the screen in front of the room, there will be a projection of natural scenes accompanied by soft, relaxing music.

During the progressive muscle relaxation exercise, participants will individually tense separate muscle groups, beginning with their feet and moving up to their head, for a certain length of time and then slowly relax them.

“Through this process, your body and yourself are able to identify what your muscle groups feel like when they are tense and also when they are relaxed,” said Halls-Carson. “So during those times when you’re feeling muscle tension you’ll kind of know ways to move those muscle groups and relax them.”

The guided imagery room will be walk-in only. It will be a first come, first serve basis and each session will begin every 15 to 20 minutes. Services are free of charge for students, but faculty, staff or other community members will be charged a small fee, which has yet to be determined.

Lindsay Stanko, freshman in ACES, heard about the addition of the guided imagery room in early November from a friend and has been anticipating the stress relaxation center ever since.

“The whole concept is awesome,” Stanko said. “I’m glad it’s at the Illini Union because I won’t have to go out of my way to feel relaxed.”

Dr. Robert Palinkas, director of McKinley Health Center, proposed the idea of the guided imagery at the Oasis to the Illini Union. From that point on, staff members of McKinley Health Center and the Illini Union have been working together to supply other services for the center, such as the hiring of a local massage company and a health store where students can purchase items for their body, mind and spirit.

“We think that this will add to reaching students with some valuable stress management information,” Halls-Carson said. “(It’s) also a way to take a break from their day, relax and experience something unique that maybe they haven’t tried before.”

John Kernan, junior in LAS, is one of the many students willing to stop by the Oasis next semester and find out what it is like.

“I’ll definitely give it a try, especially since I’ll be on the Quad in between classes and have time to kill,” Kernan said. “It sounds pretty cool.”

While the Oasis will be available to students upon their return in January, the center’s grand opening will take place on Jan. 27, 2006.

The Oasis will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. These weekend hours also include the SportWell Center, which is currently only open on weekdays.