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Drew University Introduces New Zen Den to Address Student Stress

“Students can come in and just be.”

October 2023 – Drew University’s Center for Counseling and Psychological Services has opened a new space—the Zen Den—for students to destress.

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Photo: Christian Chase C'27

The Zen Den includes a massage chair, bean bag chairs, large cushions, yoga mats and blocks, soft lighting, aromatherapy, items for creative expression, and guides for breathing and grounding exercises.

“Students can create their personal plan of action for managing stress after using resources in the space,” said Audra Tonero, executive director of counseling and wellness.

“Students can come in and just be. This is a space where nothing has to happen. It is a space to facilitate calm, get away from the impact of constant technology, and do what is right for students when they’re here.”

The Zen Den started as an idea to address a lack of coping skills as students struggled to sit with “uncomfortable feelings” as they acclimate to and go through college life. Thanks to grants from the state of New Jersey and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) earmarked to improve mental health services on higher education campuses, the idea became a reality.

“Many students find their way to counseling to assist with developing skills and strategies,” said Tonero. “We want coping strategies and managing discomfort to be an accessible concept. Mental health is health, and there are things everyone can do to help acknowledge, reduce symptoms, and move through discomfort. This space is another way Drew students can do that.”

The Center for Counseling and Psychological Services will soon add VR headsets for mindfulness, pop-up workshops for meditation sessions, mindfulness and grounding exercises, and yoga demonstrations to the Zen Den offerings, as well as collaborative events with campus partners.

Follow the center on Instagram at @drewcounseling for hours.

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