Psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman has designed and constructed a large-scale multi-media space that aims to calm even the most stressed out of minds.
To help promote the University of Hertfordshire’s Health and Human Sciences Research Institute Showcase, Wiseman reviewed the scientific research into relaxation, and has created what is being billed as ‘The world’s most relaxing room.’
During the Showcase, which runs from 21-24 October at the University’s de Havilland campus, groups of up to ten visitors at a time will be invited to enter this large and unusual space, lie on soft matting and rest their head on lavender-scented pillows. In each fifteen minute session, people will be bathed in a calming glade-like green light, listen to a specially composed soothing soundtrack, and look at a completely clear artificial blue sky.
“The pace of modern-day life, credit crunch, and financial crisis is making many people feel very stressed and so we have created this space to help them relax”, noted Professor Wiseman.
“Research suggests that the subdued green light enhances the production of dopamine in the brain and provide a calming sensation. In addition, the artificial blue sky helps create a mild form of sensory deprivation that will help them turn their attention inward and distract them away from daily stress.”
The music that will be played during each session has been specially composed by University of Hertfordshire Professor of Music, Tim Blinko.
“Richard asked me to create a piece of music with a slow and distinct rhythm, low frequency notes, and no sudden changes in tempo”, noted Professor Blinko. “I have completely re-written a piece especially for this project. It features a solo soprano voice, chosen for the soothing properties of the human voice, together with a Tibetan singing bowl, used in meditation and a string ensemble."
A few years ago, Wiseman headed an international study examining walking speeds around the world, and discovered that people are living more fast-paced and stressful lives than ever before. It is hoped that the room will help motivate different groups of people to combat stress, including, for example, students facing exams and businesses wishing to lower their employees’ stress-related absenteeism.
Professor Wiseman added, “Previous work has shown that these colours, sounds and smells all help people relax, but this is the first time that they have been combined in this way, and it will be fascinating to look at the effect on visitors’ relaxation levels.“
The following questionnaire helps identify people who might be living life at a pace that exacerbates stress. 5 or more ‘yes’ responses suggest that it might be time to take your foot off the accelerator and slow down.
1) Do you seem to glance at your watch more than others?
2) When someone takes too long to get to the point, do you feel like hurrying them along?
3) Are you often the first person to finish at mealtimes?
4) When walking along a street, do you often feel frustrated because you are stuck behind others?
5) Would you become irritable if you sit for an hour without doing anything?
6) Do you walk out of restaurants or shops if you encounter even a short queue?
7) If you are caught in slow-moving traffic, do you seem to get more annoyed than other drivers?
Stress busting tips:
Being stressed can increase your blood pressure, affect your ability to concentrate, and weaken your immune system.
Those who can’t make it to the world’s most relaxing room might want to try the following 10 techniques to help combat stress:
1) Head for the countryside. Research shows that spending around thirty minutes in green and quiet surroundings will make you feel significantly more relaxed.
2) Listen to soothing music. Listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, a relaxation tape, or nature sounds lowers your blood pressure.
3) Carry out a relaxation exercise. Starting at your toes and working upwards, spend a few moments slowly tensing, and then releasing, the muscles of each part of your body.
4) Spend time with friends. Being with people you like helps distract you from anxious thoughts and lifts your mood.
5) Help others. Research shows that even carrying out a small act of kindness, such as making a donation to charity, helps improve your mood and decreases stress.
6) Accept what you can’t change. There is no point dwelling on the past, or thinking about what can’t be altered. Instead, focus on how you can create a better future.
7) Smile more. Don’t take life too seriously, and improve your ability to cope with stressful situations by seeing the funny side of whatever happens.
8) Use lavender. Research shows that most people find the smell of lavender especially relaxing, and that it also helps them get a good night’s sleep.
9) Hit the gym. Exercise promotes the production of endorphins, which, in turn, make you feel better about yourself and become more relaxed.
10) Look at the sky. If it is a nice day, lie on the grass, look up at a clear sky, and allow positive thoughts and images to drift through your mind.
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