By Allison Campbell-Jensen
preparing for midterms,…
getting ready to go out,
…finding that pair of gloves (or not finding those gloves),
memorizing the parts of:
- a play,
- a skeleton, or
- a proof…
Sometimes, as the poet William Wordsworth wrote, The World is Too Much With Us.
At times like these, University of Minnesota students may be glad to know that Wilson Library has a special refuge — the Sensory Room — where they can go when they need to just chill.
Fidget toys, weighted blankets, lava lights, squeeze balls, and handwritten encouragements are among the stress relievers on hand. Turn on the lava lamp, find your balance in the wobble seat, calm your mind, and discover a new point of view.
Anyone in the University community can reserve the room — which is recommended. Or stop by the front desk of Wilson Library to see if it is available and check out the key.
And, for a time, take the opportunity to drift away from stresses that have piled up.
Shelter from stress
Last year, library staff heard from a transfer student from the University of Minnesota–Duluth that a sensory room might be a good way to help students succeed. Or at least help them relax!
That student is Alexa Kromrey, who is majoring in theater.
“In Duluth, they had like four [sensory] rooms — and they were always booked,” Alexa Kromrey says. “If I’m having a hard day with my mental health,” she adds, a visit to this room will help her “process harder feelings if I need to — or take a break from the overstimulating environment on campus.”
She brought up the idea to Richmond Kinney, a member of the Libraries’ Student Experience, Learning & Outreach team. Serendipitously, Kinney says, at the time, there was still leeway to put in a budget request to fund the room’s furnishings. Kinney also consulted with a stress-reduction expert at the U’s Boynton Health to identify helpful tools and activities.
A collaborative project
Alexa Kromrey created the hand-written signs and consulted with Kinney on the furniture
and fidget items. She feels proud to know she helped bring this idea to fruition on the Twin Cities campus. Because she commutes about 35 minutes from her home in Hudson, Wisconsin, the Sensory Room represents another place, on campus, where she can retreat and feel at home.
The room is open to anyone who wishes to reserve it for up to two hours, Kinney says.
At times, any one of us can use a break, a little time to pick up markers to color, or pop the fidget toys. Ahhhhh …