April 23, 2024
Jane the Therapy Dog at the Zen Den

Zen Den Promotes Wellbeing

The Zen Den has been a great area for students at Herkimer College to relax and unwind since its creation. Many students claim the Zen Den is a calming space that provides many benefits and engaging activities. Many people, especially students, are dealing with mental health issues and facing other struggles in their daily lives that requires time for a break. Having the ability to resort to this safe space has resulted in plenty of students feeling productive and secure.

Students say that the Zen Den is a great tool for mindfulness whether you go alone or with a friend. Many people like to use their time to visit before class, after class, or even just to stop by for a few minutes while in the area. The Zen Den is there for all students and faculty to enjoy when they need it, as its goal is to meet the needs of wellness for all the different people who walk inside.

Gracie Delmedico, a student at Herkimer College, mentioned she only likes to use the Zen Den with a friend to relax for about 10 minutes. Others mentioned they stay for a couple of hours to unwind, or for however long it takes them to get their work done.

The Zen Den is open 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on all weekdays. Counselor Kaitlyn LaPolla noticed that students usually head over to the Zen Den during the hours of 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

“This does include when Jane is there, but it seems to be pretty consistent whether or not she is present,” said LaPolla. Jane the Therapy Dog holds her office hours in the Zen Den on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Those who meet with Jane can chat, give her treats, or even just pet and relax with her. Students smiled and a few described their happy interactions they have shared with her.

Seventy-one people have signed into the Zen Den during the month of February, so far. Faculty and students are encouraged to make use of the array of activities it has to offer or to even just sit there. The massage chairs seem to be the main attraction, as some students mentioned they are their favorite. These chairs are loved not only for their comfort, but for the view you are able to see while sitting in them.

Other students have claimed they go because of the quiet atmosphere and soothing music. Student Vanessa Miles explained that when she goes not too many people are around, so she is given time to think and work at ease. While with a friend she says they usually sit in the bean bag chairs or couches, as the massage chairs are typically occupied.

There are many other options to unwind, including games, yoga, and reading. This leaves it up to the student who walks in to choose what they are attracted to.

LaPolla explained that feedback for the Zen Den has shown that students have felt less anxious or stressed, and with a higher sense of wellbeing while visiting.

There is always room for more feedback. Some students suggested that spacing out the room a bit more or perhaps a rule to wear headphones could be an improvement to reduce noise that may disrupt others enjoying their free time.

With students and faculty having the opportunity to take a breather in this safe space, the Zen Den has proven to be very successful in accomplishing what it was made for. This peaceful haven has given a space for everyone to resort to whether they need to settle down for a while or take a break for a couple minutes. Anyone who needs the ability to destress or simply experience relaxation has this specific area to achieve what they are looking for.  Having this highly accessible getaway on campus continues to be a daily used area that contains all the essentials to relaxation and to practice mindfulness.