Sunday, April 21, 2024

St. Anthony staff makes space for wellness

Next stop – Relaxation Station

College of the North Atlantic (CNA) campus libraries are adding a new feature to their shelves that everyone will be able to avail of – health and wellness.

Elizabeth-Ann Critchley, Library Clerk at St. Anthony campus, is one of the many staff who are making wellness a priority through the Relaxation Station.

“The Relaxation Station is a collection of various items and articles dedicated to helping with stress management, self-care, and just relaxing overall,” she explained.  

Critchley says there is a myriad of items students and staff can use to relax and unwind.

“We have some board games, a puzzle, fidget tools, such as stress balls and fidget cubes, colouring books and puzzle books, articles on a handful of hobbies, a printout of library reference questions called “Library ‘How Do I’s’,” articles on yoga, meditation and guided imagery, a blanket and Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) items for the ultimate fantasy escapism,” she said. “I also display some books from our collection here dedicated to stress management and mental health.”

The Relaxation Station is available whenever the library is open.

“Some items, like the fidget tools, can be used outside of the library and are to be returned when patrons are finished with them, while others do have to stay in the library, such as the D&D books and gear,” said Critchley. “It is open to everyone to use.”

She explained that the idea came about when she found herself with a spare shelving unit.

“It actually came about from not wanting to toss out a good magazine shelving unit as it had a prominent spot in the library,” she said. “I then remembered that in my storage cabinet, I kept what I call my ‘fidget tools’ – stuff like fidget cubes, stress balls, and other fidgety things that I give to students when they seem stressed during tests. It then grew from there into a full-on shelving unit of different things based around relaxation, stress management, and just some fun.”

Critchley says she knows firsthand how important it is to prioritize wellness.

“I have seen many students and staff stress out and I figured having something like this would provide at least some relief from that, even for a moment. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder myself so I can empathize with worrying over stuff like grades and work.”

The Relaxation Station aims to give students and staff some tools to help relieve some of that everyday stress.

“Not being able to relax or manage stress can put you into that really high state of anxiety, which I hope the Relaxation Station can help bring people down from or prevent from reaching such a state,” said the Library Clerk. “In that state, you can start to overthink and try to predict some very unlikely outcomes, which just adds onto your actual stress and blow things out of proportion.”

Following suit

Critchley says all of CNA’s campuses have resources available to do something similar.

“Most libraries also have books for check-out regarding stress management and self-care,” she said. “We also have our EBSCO e-book collections that contain resources regarding stress management and self-care, even including workbooks.”

Bay St. George campus in Stephenville has puzzles, board games and colouring sheets available to name a few.

Crystal Mercer, Library Technician II at CNA’s Seal Cove campus, says they also have relaxation resources for staff and students.

“Our learning commons have puzzles, question of the day (vote for students), colouring station, and fidget toys. Our Student Development Officers also have arcade games like basketball and PAC-MAN, and various board games in the cafeteria.”  

Pamela Hardy, Library Technician IIA at Port aux Basques campus, says she is in the process of making over the relaxation area there.

“I have two extra-large Lay-Z boys that recline all the way back. They also have USB drives so students can relax and plug in their phones/tablets while reclining,” she said. “I plan on having colouring books / puzzles / board games etc.  Maybe some relaxation music or movies during lunch hour if requested.”

Brent Slade, Librarian II at Corner Brook campus, says he believes the library should be a place of relaxation and personal enrichment.

“We have puzzles and colouring pages that are well-utilized. As well as board games and Lego. During the college-wide wellness hour some years back, I turned the library into what I called “The Oasis” and just turned down the lighting levels, put out some relaxation materials on the desks for students to use freely. We also had an ongoing booking with the campus’s student council to use our conference room as a prayer area for students who needed such a space.”

Slade said Labrador West campus is also joining in.

“The Labrador West campus library hosted a couple of art therapy-type events, and it has a tonne of art supplies on hand for free use following those, as well as board games and Legos,” he said.

Stephen Nolan, Librarian II at the Carbonear Campus, says their space also has these items, as well as role-playing games and about 400 comic books.

For more information about CNA’s Library Services, visit:

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Ryanne McIsaac
Ryanne McIsaac
Ryanne is Editor of CNA Currents. Born and raised in Stephenville, NL, Ryanne moved back to Newfoundland after spending 16 years in Calgary, Alberta. Ryanne has a Journalism Diploma from College of the North Atlantic and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Cape Breton University. She worked for many years as a reporter and freelance writer. She is happy to be back in her hometown and working for CNA.


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