Inner Resources Room

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The Inner Resources Room is a tranquil environment where Notre Dame students, faculty, and staff can participate in a variety of self-guided relaxation, stress management, and performance-enhancing activities. To reserve the room at 305 Saint Liam Hall for your half-hour or hour appointment, click here. On the day of your appointment, please bring your Notre Dame ID to give to the University Counseling Center receptionist.

Here is a partial list of available stress management activities:

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Massage Chair and Recliner

The Massage Chair allows you to select one of three automated or customized programs which alternate between massage modes and can target different areas of your back. For specific sore spots, position the massage rollers to target that spot. The remote control in the chair pocket allows you to select the program best suited for you. You may also use the chair as a comfortable recliner while you listen to music or an instructional CD, watch a DVD, or while using other biofeedback equipment, such as RESPeRATE or a Digital Thermometer. To learn about the benefits of massage therapy, click here.

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Negative Ion Generator

Research has shown that exposure to high-density negative ions in the air significantly improves mood and reduces mood disturbance, depressive symptoms, and anger even for those who are not clinically depressed. In addition, high-density negative ion air generator treatment has been found to improve moods for people with seasonal affective disorder as well as non-seasonal chronic depression. A high-density Negative Ion Generator is located next to the massage chair. Attaching the wrist strap so that the metal touches your wrist creates a closed circuit which increases its effectiveness. For more information about Negative Ion Generator therapy, click here.

Biofeedback

EmWave PC: Biofeedback Training Computer Program

EmWave PC teaches you to attain a calm, yet alert demeanor, which is helpful for academics, sports, stress management, and more. The hardware platform gives you both visual and auditory biofeedback of your heart rate variability (HRV) and heart rate coherence (HRC) using the black finger sensor attached to your index finger (located to the left of the computer) or the black ear sensor (located in the cabinet). To use the program, click on the EmWave PC icon on the computer desktop and then on the Tutorial for full instructions. Using EmWave PC regularly will allow you to develop confidence in your ability to manage any task more efficiently. Moreover, it can facilitate your ability to get in the zone. See the EmWave PC folder in the desk drawer for more articles to enhance your sessions, such as The Quick Coherence Technique.

Healing Rhythms biofeedback training computer program

This program combines Wild Divine’s groundbreaking biofeedback technology and beautiful interactive imagery with expert coaching. Healing Rhythms is a practical mind-body training tool measuring heart rate variability (HRV) and skin conductance level (SCL). It provides guided meditation and breathing exercises led by expert coaches; visually interactive biofeedback activities allowing you to practice the techniques you learn in the program; a biofeedback monitor screen that allows you to monitor your physiology as you improve your mind/body skills; and an online journal feature that allows you to track your improvements over time. Use the blue finger sensors located next to the computer. The user’s guide is in the Healing Rhythms folder of the desk drawer.

Journey to Wild Divine: Biofeedback Computer Games Passage & Wisdom Quest

Passage and Wisdom Quest is a two-part interactive biofeedback computer game marketed as a “meditation adventure for the mind and body.” By using the game and wearing the blue finger sensors (next to the computer), this unique technology allows you to progress through mediation and breathing exercises to help reduce stress and anxiety. Learn to focus through Zen Archery, learn breathing by building a magic stairway with your breath, and enhance energy by juggling balls with your laughter. How does it work? The hardware platform measures both heart rate variability (HRV) and skin conductance level (SCL) through the blue finger sensors attached to your fingers. The measurements are fed back to you through energy “events” on the screen, which challenge you to control your body’s reactions. We recommend that you begin with “The Passage” and then for more advanced biofeedback challenges, move on to “Wisdom Quest.” Journey to Wild Divine provides an entertaining way to learn stress and anxiety reduction, increase relaxation and focus, and improve mental and physical performance.

Light Box

Light therapy involves daily, scheduled exposure to intense levels of UV-filtered artificial light. Our light box was specifically chosen because it meets specifications utilized in clinical research studies. Light therapy is used to regulate seasonal mood swings, improve sleeping patterns, and enhance feelings of well-being. Please read the instructions, including contraindications, in the Light Therapy folder located in the desk drawer. For more information, click here.

Zen Timepiece

The attractive Zen clock on the desk can be set to serve as a soothing timer to indicate the end of your Inner Resources Room appointment. You can also use it as a “mindfulness bell” or to time your meditation practice. Please see the Zen Clock folder in the desk drawer for instructions to learn how to set the timer.

Instructions and Guidebooks

The bottom desk drawer on the left contains folders with instruction handouts and guidebooks.

TV and DVD Player

We’ve collected soothing music and videos in both CD and DVD formats. For example, you can create a tranquil atmosphere by viewing a rocky mountain waterfall or a Caribbean beach. Our collection of instructional DVDs can teach breathing, relaxation, stress management and more. Please see the DVDs on the bookshelf as well as the Music CDs/DVDs folder and the Instructional CDs/DVDs folder for descriptions so that you can make your selection. Note that the audio in the Inner Resources Room is set to come out of the room’s speakers. For enhanced listening, you can sit in the recliner and use the noise-canceling headphones tethered to the receiver. The headphones are located on the shelf below the TV. See the Sound System folder to learn how to use the DVD player, CD player, and the receiver.

CD Player and Noise Canceling Headphones

Sit back in the recliner and listen to music that adds benefits beyond just relaxation. For example, certain types of music, such as selections on the Quiet Joy CD, have been found to improve autonomic nervous system balance and immune response, as documented in the Journal of Stress Medicine. Our collection of instructional CDs allow you to listen to guided relaxation exercises, learn mindfulness meditation, and more. Please see the CDs by the CD player and on the bookshelf, as well as the Music CDs/DVDs folder and the Instructional CDs/DVDs folder for descriptions so that you can make your selection. Note that the audio in the Inner Resources Room is set to come out of the room’s speakers. For enhanced listening, you can use the noise-cancelling headphones tethered to the receiver. The headphones are located on the shelf below the TV. See the Sound System folder to learn how to use the DVD player, CD player, and the receiver.

Temperature Sensor

Did you know that people’s hands tend to become cold when stressed because the body’s stress response causes blood vessels to constrict in the extremities? Using a digital thermometer with a temperature sensor attached to your fingertip, you can learn to reverse your body’s stress response by learning to warm your hand temperature. The digital thermometer provides feedback on your ability to calm your sympathetic nervous system and create a relaxation response.

RESPeRATE

RESPeRATE is a non-drug portable biofeedback medical device designed to lower high blood pressure. It is also very relaxing to use for stress management. As you sit in our recliner with the device in your lap you can listen to instructions and music using the attached headphones. RESPeRATE will then interactively guide you through a 15 minute therapeutic breathing exercise that has been clinically proven to lower high blood pressure within 4-6 weeks with no side effects. A Quick Start user’s guide is in the RESPeRATE folder.

Music and Instructional CDs/DVDs

We’ve collected soothing music and video in both CD and DVD formats. For example, you can create a tranquil atmosphere by viewing a rocky mountain waterfall or a Caribbean beach. You can also listen to music that adds benefits beyond just relaxation. For example, certain types of music, such as selections on the Quiet Joy CD, have been found to improve autonomic nervous system balance and immune response, as documented in the Journal of Stress Medicine. We have also developed a collection of instructional CDs and DVDs so that you can listen to guided relaxation exercises, learn mindfulness meditation, and more. Please see the CDs and DVDs on the bookshelf, as well as the Music CDs/DVDs folder and the Instructional CDs/DVDs folder for descriptions so that you can make your selection.

Other Stress Management Activities

Skin Conductivity Level Biofeedback Training

Skin Conductivity Level biofeedback training (also called Galvanic Skin Response) provides a measure of skin conductivity of the fingers or palms. The activity of the sweat glands in response to increased sympathetic activation results in an increase in the level of conductance. Changes in skin conductivity can thus be used as a measure of an individual’s physiological stress pattern and overall general arousal. Three of our biofeedback computer games (Journey to Wild Divine’s Passage, Wisdom Quest, and Healing Rhythms) use finger sensors that measure skin conductivity level (SCL) as well as heart rate variability (HRV). As you learn to self-regulate SCL and HRV, you are able to progress to increasingly sophisticated tasks in the game, allowing you to view intricate scenes and progress to higher levels of mastery.

Respiration Biofeedback Training

An easy and readily accessible method used to relax and reduce stress levels is through respiration or breath training. When we are stressed, our breathing tends to be shallow, rapid, and high in the chest. When we are relaxed, our breaths are naturally deep, slow, and low in the abdomen. The portable biofeedback instrument RESPeRATE uses a sensor on a belt around one’s abdomen and a combination of music and soothing instructions over headphones to teach you to pace your breathing from the normal range of 14 to 19 breaths per minute to the “therapeutic zone” of under 10 breaths per minute. You then begin to reap the benefits of focusing on the experience of being profoundly relaxed. An added benefit is that within a few minutes, the muscles surrounding the small blood vessels dilate, allowing blood to flow more freely, resulting in lower blood pressure. Your breathing returns to normal after each 15-minute daily session, but the beneficial impact on your blood pressure and overall stress level accumulates in as little as four to six weeks.

Thermal Biofeedback Training

When stressed, our bodies produce adrenaline, which diverts blood from the surface of the skin to the core of the body, causing a drop in the temperature of the surface of the skin. This effect is most noticeable in the hands and feet. Thus, one’s hands become cooler during episodes of stress, and warmer as the danger passes and the body becomes more relaxed. Whereas we are usually not aware of how we can gain access to the power of our parasympathetic nervous system to relax, we can learn to self regulate through thermal biofeedback. A digital thermometer, with its temperature sensor attached to your fingertip, displays minute changes of temperature, allowing you to learn to control the body’s relaxation response. As your hands become warmer, your breathing, heart rate, and mind begin to slow, and your muscles release tension. Hand-warming biofeedback has been shown to have beneficial effects for those who suffer from stress, migraine headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, pain, digestive disorders, and other stress-related or stress-exacerbated disorders.

Negative Ion Therapy

Do you know that good feeling you’ve experienced near a waterfall, at the beach, or in the mountains? Those are places where thousands of negative ions occur and can create an effect on human biochemistry. The density level of ions in the air we breathe acts on our capacity to absorb and utilize oxygen. Negative ions in the bloodstream accelerate the delivery of oxygen to our cells and tissues, whereas positive ions slow down the delivery of oxygen. The body chemical serotonin, linked with mood and stress, is also influenced by ion levels. Too many positive ions in our indoor and technology-driven society alter the levels, which can cause stress. The effect of negative ion depletion varies from person to person and can have an effect on migraines, asthma, and depression. High-density negative air ionization has been shown to improve moods for people with seasonal affective disorder as well as non-seasonal chronic depression (Goel, et. al, 2005). Our Inner Resources Room has a high-density negative ion generator that emits 200 trillion negative ions/sec/cm3 for your benefit. To increase its benefits, create a closed circuit by attaching the wrist strap, which duplicates the conditions used in Columbia University’s clinical trials.

Heart Rate Variability/Heart Rhythm Coherence Biofeedback Training

Research conducted by the Institute of HeartMath on heart rhythm patterns has found that during the experience of negative emotions such as anger, frustration, or anxiety, heart rate variability becomes more erratic or disordered, indicating less synchronization between the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system. Sincere positive states like appreciation, love, or compassion, are associated with coherent patterns in heart rhythms, reflecting greater synchronization. Heart rhythm feedback training helps people to learn to self-generate states of sustained positive emotions and increased physiological coherence, thereby reducing stress and improving health, emotional wellbeing, and performance. We have four computer programs that provide biofeedback of heart rate variability/coherence: HeartMath’s emWave PC (formerly Freeze-Framer), Journey to Wild Divine’s Passage, Wisdom Quest, and Healing Rhythms. These instructional and entertaining biofeedback programs use a fingertip or earlobe sensor to measure heart rhythm coherence, which is then fed back to the user with onscreen games designed to reinforce emotion-regulating skills. HeartMath’s heart rhythm coherence training and positive emotion-focused techniques have been applied to the treatment of stress and anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, depression, and fatigue; to improve academic, work, and sports performance; and to facilitate improvements in medical conditions associated with or exacerbated by chronic stress (McCraty, 2002).

Light Therapy

Notre Dame students, faculty, and staff adjusting to the cloudiness of South Bend may experience lower moods and productivity during the fall and winter months. For some, light therapy can help. A metaanalysis of the research has shown that light therapy is not only beneficial for seasonal affective disorder, but also for the treatment for chronic non-seasonal depression (Golden, 2005). Light therapy involves daily, scheduled exposure to intense levels of artificial light and is used to regulate seasonal mood swings, improve sleeping patterns, and enhance feelings of well-being. The recommended dose of light therapy (10,000 lux) for 20 to 30 minutes compares to the level of light exposure an individual would receive by taking a walk outside on a sunny spring day. You can read, listen to music, or work on a computer while participating in light therapy. If you find that using our Light Box daily for two weeks is effective, you can then invest in your own personal light to continue to use at home. Individuals with symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder, currently on prescription medications, a history of eye conditions, or currently under a physician’s care should consult with a physician prior to beginning light therapy.

Handout: Preview the Inner Resources Room
Handout: IRR information
Handout: List of Instructional CDs and DVDS in the IRR

Please note: Symptoms of stress and depression can have multiple causes, including environmental, social, emotional, and medical. Please consult your health care professional who understands your specific situation before beginning any self-guided stress management or depression treatment program.

The Inner Resources Room is a joint gift from the Senior Class of 2004 and the Saint Liam Hall Renovation Project, made possible by donor William K. Warren Sr. If you would like to make a donation to our collection or arrange a tour for your class or group, please contact Wendy Settle, Ph.D. at 574-631-7336.

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