When, as a reporter, you hear the words "Stress-Free Zone," you have but one response. And that response is, "Yes."
"Yes, I will go to there and cover that -- and maybe never come back."
This is how I found myself in a chair massaging my back and legs, my hands wrapped in paraffin wax, in the Jobe Lounge at Elgin Community College. Or, as it was dubbed this morning, the Stress-Free Zone.
The Stress-Free Zone is an event put on by the College Programming Board just before finals every year at the community college. (You can learn more about it in my article in Thursday's Courier-News.)
I don't usually take part in the events I cover. But this one featured "oxygen therapy," and that was something I thought I sort of had to experience to write about. Also, it seemed like something blog-worthy, because, while I've been hearing about oxygen bars for years, I've never actually seen one. Have you?
Campus Spa, which provided the treatment at Elgin Community College's Stress-Free Zone, points to information about the benefits of oxygen therapy from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute on its website:
"(Oxygen therapy can allow people to) function better and be more active. Oxygen therapy can help in various ways. It may help: Decrease shortness of breath and fatigue (tiredness), Improve sleep in some people who have sleep-related breathing disorders, [and] Increase the lifespan of some people who have COPD."
The treatment at the Stress-Free Zone wasn't a true oxygen bar, the Campus Spa representative told me. A true oxygen bar pumps something like 95 percent oxygen at your face, she said. This was maybe 30 percent oxygen and mostly to convey a citrus scent, since, you know, you can't exactly scent the entire Jobe Lounge with relaxing aromatherapy candles. The scent was dispersed through a little apparatus that looks like one of those hands-free headsets for your cell phone.
Holly Grimm of South Elgin, one of the students in line ahead of me at the Stress-Free Zone, said it smelled a little bit like menthol. "It's supposed to give you extra power," she said.
I thought it smelled like orange Pez, and it dried out my contact lenses. That's not to say it wasn't an entirely enjoyable and therapeutic experience: After all, it was accompanied by the back and leg massage and paraffin wax hand treatment. And there's something to be said for just taking a minute to sit still, to be quiet and to just breathe.
Oxygen therapy? Hand treatments? What do you do to relax and de-stress?
-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter