MindBody Labs allow students to free their mind during midterms

Caroline Betik

With midterms in full swing, you might catch yourself stressing over exams in the PCL, shedding a tear or two with nowhere to seek respite.

This is why the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center created MindBody Labs. Since 2003, the MindBody Lab served students seeking to minimize stress. In 2016, a second Mindbody Lab was introduced in the Student Activity Center that was closer and more convenient for students to access. However, there are many students who still do not know this resource exists.

Elana Bizer, licensed clinical social worker at CMHC, said the original idea behind these meditative rooms was to have a place for students to experience and discover new skills such as managing distress and physical pain to help maintain their overall well-being.

“Often in our lives, we are always focused on productivity and we think in order to do well we need to focus all our time on that,” Bizer said. “What we often don’t realize is self-care in the form of mindfulness and relaxation is just as important as being a productive student.”

Bizer said the MindBody Lab offers various resources to help minimize stress and anxiety throughout the semester, allowing students to stay as healthy
as possible. Offering a more dynamic range of resources for students looking to relax, the original MindBody Lab includes biofeedback devices such as the emWave Personal Stress Reliever.

According to the CMHC, this device is designed to help regulate your emotional state by helping users recognize the difference between how you feel when you are relaxed versus stressed.

Dylan Snoddy, a Facility Supervisor at the Student Activity Center, said the hospitality desk in the SAC has tools available for checkout for students, staff and faculty at their convenience.

“One thing we offer is a breathing machine, which doesn’t necessarily breathe for you, but tells you when to breathe,” Snoddy said. “We also have iPods preloaded with music and videos with various titles — Waves, Zen Garden, Emotional Eating … In the room there’s a blanket and chairs which you can use at your convenience.”

While the MindBody Labs have supplies available for use at both locations, Civil Engineering freshman Ethan Plevak said he is not sure how or why he would need to check anything out.

“I don’t normally go in there for guided breathing exercises, I use it for a quiet, relaxing space,” Plevak said. “Normally, I only go for thirty minutes at a time, just because I have a lot of things to do, but it’s nice to sit and listen to music or nap. It’s really relaxing, and the blankets are a nice addition too.”

Bizor said the CMHC recognizes that students use the Labs in their own ways which is what makes the program so beneficial
to students.

“I think the spirit of the MindBody Lab is that there are a lot of different things which work for lots of different people, it’s really up to you to discover what works best,” Bizor said. “Everyone has to decide for themselves how they want to prioritize self-care and developing the resources to do it. If you gain these skills in advance (using the MindBody labs), you can apply those methods in your daily life and have them readily available later on.”