Welcome to our Virtual Zen Den

This Relaxation Room at Texas A&M University - San Antonio, Student Counseling Center is intended to provide a safe, calming, and comforting virtual environment for the A&M- SA community to learn and/or strengthen their coping skills.

 We’re glad you took the time to stop in. Please take this time to review the resources below and check-in with yourself. This space is for you and this time is for you. Please click play on the video below to listen to soothing music as you browse our resources.

Relaxation is a process that reduces the impact of stress on the mind and body. It offers a form of intentional self-care and has been known to have several benefits including reducing the activity of stress hormones, improving concentration and mood, and boosting confidence to navigate life's challenges. When students come to this Virtual Relaxation Room, they can explore multiple resources to help improve their emotional health and well-being, all in the same space.

Relaxation is a process that reduces the impact of stress on the mind and body.

Progressive Muscle Relaxationthe use of muscle tension to recognize what calmness feels like in your body.

Mindful Breathing: Progressive Muscle Relaxation (short video): Join the American Lung Association Director of Health Promotions, Candace Alexander, MEd, CHES, as she guides viewers through a 6 minute progressive muscle relaxation exercise to help stay calm during times of stress.

Integrative Medicine: Progressive Muscle Relaxation (audio only)Join Robert B. Saper, MD in an 18 minute Progressive Muscle Relaxation audio guide.

Breathe Work: the practice of deep breathing to release calming chemicals in the brain. 

Deep Breathing (handout): "Deep breathing is a popular relaxation technique that helps to control the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and anger. The skill is easy to learn, and provides near immediate relief from uncomfortable symptoms." -Therapist Aid

How to do Deep Breathing (short video)This video provides a brief description of deep breathing followed by guided practice. -Therapist Aid

Relaxation Apps: Access self-help tools to help you decompress.

File:Google Play Store badge EN.svg - Wikimedia Commons   App Store (iOS) - Wikiwand

Calm: Available for download on Android and iOS

CBT i Coach: Available for download on Android and iOS

Insight Timer: Available for download on Android and iOS

Liberate Meditation: Available for download on Android and iOS

Relax Now: Available for download on iOS

Sanvello: Available for download on Android and iOS

Smiling Mind: Available for download on Android and iOS

Stop, Breath, Think: Available for download on Android and iOS

The Mindfulness App: Available for download on Android and iOS

Virtual Hope Box: Available for download on Android and iOS 

⇑back to top

Coping skills are activities you can engage in when you are experiencing distress so you can use these to help you manage the problems even more effectively. 

Quick DistractionsUse to help reduce strong physiological reactions in the moment to regain a sense of control. 

Grounding Techniques: Use to re-focus your attention on the present moment. Grounding techniques help manage flashbacks, anxiety and other uncomfortable symptoms by turning attention away from thoughts, memories, or worries, and refocusing on the present moment.

Grounding Techniques (handout): 5, 4, 3, 2, 1; Categories; Body Awareness; and Mental Exercises. -Therapist Aid

30 Grounding Techniques to Quiet Distressing Thoughts: this guide includes physical, mental, and soothing techniques. -Healthline

Finger Fan: Extend your arms straight in front of you with your palms up. Spread your fingers as far as possible. Hold for five seconds. Repeat at least three times.

Upper Back Stretch: Sit up straight with your fingers laced behind your head. Keep shoulders down, lift your chest and bring your elbows as far back as you can. Hold for 10 seconds.

Sensory Stimulation: Tap into your senses to reduce the effects of the over arousal on the nervous system.

Mindfulness Exercises - Body Scan (audio)A typical Body Scan runs through each part of the body, paying special attention to the way each area feels. The scan usually moves systematically through the body, e.g. starting at the feet and moving upwards through the body. Try this 30 minute guided narrative by expert and founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Jon Kabat Zinn.

Mindfulness Eating Exercise: This is an experience of mindful eating with Linda Smith from Duke Integrative Medicine. You can prepare for this exercise by choosing a special food to experience it with. Many people choose a raisin or a piece of chocolate or something that is delightful for you. 

Online Games: Decompress with a fun game to lift or shift your mood! 

Jigsaw Puzzles: Available for download on Android and iOS

Antistress and Relaxation Toys: Available for download on Android and iOS

The Word Search: A vast collection of word search puzzles online, with new ones being added regularly. They are fun to play, but also educational, in fact, many teachers make use of them. -TheWordSearch.com

Communication: Remember, effective communication can support our personal development and interpersonal relationships with others.

Self-Management: When it comes to unlocking our fullest potential with others, self-awareness is key.

What Are Your Emotions Telling You?: "Emotions are complicated, and they can be extremely confusing. There is no easy way around this." Use this resource to help identify your emotions and gain insight into what they are trying to tell you. Click here to access a helpful worksheet created by the Growlery Counseling & Therapy.

Healthy Thinking (handout): "We all find ourselves coping with troubling thoughts from time to time—especially when we're going through changes in our lives or when we feel depressed, anxious, sad, angry or stressed out." -Trails to Wellness.

Unhealthy Thinking Styles (handout): Sometimes you may want to second guess what your brain is telling you. It’s not that your brain is purposely lying to you, it’s just that it may have developed some faulty or non-helpful connections over time. Unhealthy thinking convinces us of inaccurate and often times negative things. The mind persuades us of something that isn't really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions which keep us feeling bad about ourselves. -Psychology Tools

Communication Tips: Some forms of communication are simply ineffective and counterproductive. If you find yourself stumbling into a communication trap, consider an alternative. 

Active Listening Skills (handout): Treating listening as an active process, rather than a passive one. This means participating in conversation, rather than acting as an audience. Active listeners show they are listening, encourage sharing, and strive to understand the speaker. -TherapistAid.com.

Assertive Communication (handout): A communication style in which a person stands up for their own needs and wants, while also taking into consideration the needs and wants of others, without behaving passively or aggressively. -TherapistAid.com.

Reflections (handout): This technique can help you become a better listener. When reflecting, you will repeat by what someone has just said to you, but in your own words. This shows that you didn't just hear the other person, but you are trying to understand them. -TherapistAid.com.

⇑back to top

Self-care is any healthy proactive activity that we "do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It's also key to a good relationship with oneself and others." -PsychCentral

Creative Expression: Creative expression can support a healthy release of emotions and allow us to process our thoughts more deeply.

Silk Interactive Generative Art: Silk Interactive Generative Art 

Happy Color: Google PlayApple Store

Just Color: Coloring Pages for Adults, discover 1,500+ Free Adult Coloring pages to download in PDF or to print.

Mandala with dark areas to allow you to highlight your colors  The beach of a Paradise Island, with palm trees, a surfboard, and the setting sun

Guided MeditationsSelf-Compassion Guided Meditation with Dr. Kristin Neff.

Self-Compassion Break: 5 minutes (audio only)

Soften, Soothe, Allow: Working with emotions in the body: 15 minutes (audio only)

Noting Your Emotions: 18 minutes (audio only)

Calming Sounds: Relaxing sounds help to ease our Fight or Flight response by helping out brains connect with non-threatening stimuli. Lift or shift your mood with the selections below!

Calm Sounds: Click here  to start nature sounds 

Chill Sounds: Click here to start instrumental music sounds

⇑back to top

Time Management helps you find a sense of balance in how you divide your time and energy, which can be tricky, but doing so can reduce distress. It is important to identify your priorities and be realistic with how much you can devote to the different areas of your life.  Procrastination and having tasks pile up can lead to increased stress and anxiety.  Sharpening your time management skills can help increase your sense of confidence and self-esteem as well as help you stay on top of your schedule and feel more in control!

Time Management Tips found here (handout)

Avoid Procrastination (handout): Connect with the Student Academic Success Center - here

Nutrition and Exercise: Mental well-being is strongly connected to physical well-being. Focusing on eating a healthy diet and maintaining a regular exercise schedule can go a long way in improving your mood.  A healthy diet gives your mind and your body the nutrient they need to function well.  Additionally, exercise releases endorphins in the body which are a “feel good” hormone.  Click on the resources in this section to learn ways to improve your overall physical wellness, which will have an impact on your mental wellness.

Yoga Moves for Better Sleep (handout) -WebMD

Yoga with Adriene - click here to browse Adriene's library of free yoga videos to find a practice that suits your mood and needs.

Get Moving! Regular physical activity can help reduce muscle tension and prompt the body to produce endorphins – your body’s natural feel good chemicals. At least three times a week for 20 minutes integrate short walks and quick stretches.

Reading/Videos/Podcasts:  Self-help through reading, listening to podcasts, and watching relevant videos can provide an outlet for you to learn more about yourself and skills that might help your sense of wellbeing.  There are a great amount of literature and resources available to you to learn more about a particular topic or focused on general wellness.  The following items are resources that SC&WS has hand selected to help you on your journey.

Recommended Readings: A variety of readings to support your self-care journey.

Increase Your Happiness:

Lifehack: 10 Ways to be Happier

The New York Times: Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors

Tinny Buddha: 30 Self-Care Tips: How to Avoid Sickness, Burnout, and Exhaustion

Military Veterans:

Veteran Affairs: Resources to Empower Veterans Mental health

VA Healthcare Training Programs: Videos and interactive games

Moving Forward - Overcoming Life's Obstacles: Resources (videos and games)

Anger & Irritability Management: Resources (videos and games)

Racetrack game screenshot  Gold miner game screenshot

TexVet: Connect with fellow Veterans in a peer support group or one on one with a local peer through the Military Veteran Peer Network (MVPN) 

LGBTQ+ and Loved Ones:

PFLAG: Recommended Readings - Coming Out

PFLAG NYC is often asked to recommend books on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) subjects. From the early stages of learning about an LGBT loved one or coming out, to finding out more about the LGBT community and current issues, the books listed here are helpful in becoming well-informed.

My Choice Not to Choose by D'Lisa DarLuz, as highlighted by Barnes and Noble, details the coming out experience of, then, fourteen-year-old DarLuz and the emotional journey she's traveled to finding inner happiness. Along this journey, the author's mustered up the courage to overcome the traumas of abuse, the scars of domestic violence, and the loss of a brother, followed by the death of a father. DarLuz details the struggles of being torn between the shadows of her Baptist upbringing and developing her own spiritual connection. An extreme advocate of self-love, she stresses the importance of healing one's soul prior to seeking acceptance within the family. My Choice Not to Choose was written with the hope that not only members of the LGBTQ community, but also their loved ones will learn the importance of unconditional love.

Title: My Choice Not to Choose, Author: D'Lisa DarLuz

Inclusive reading for BIPOC:

Resources on Anti-Racism by the Mays Center for Experiential Learning and Community Engagement at Texas A&M University-San Antonio: Anti Racism, Inclusivity, and Diversity in Higher Education.

Mental Well-being & Connectedness During COVID-19:

Additional Resources: The A&M-SA University Library has created this guide to include resources and tips for taking care of one's mental well-being during COVID-19. The goal is to provide guidance for staying connected and creating a safe online space.

Video Series or Podcasts: Tune in for more perspective or to connect with inspirational and practical strategies for navigating life challenges.

Video Series by Brene Brown, PhD Podcasts by Morgan Harper Nichols, Author

Podcasts by Morgan Harper Nichols, Author

Video Series by Student Counseling & Wellness Services at Texas A&M-SA: Nourish to Flourish

⇑back to top

Click here or the image below to track your attendance in JagSync.

JagSync 2.0

Virtual Zen Den Disclaimers: The content provided here reflects a compilation of psychoeducational resources collected from educational, clinical, and online programs. Please note that A&M- SA SCC is not affiliated with any specific program and/or professional listed here. Rather, the resources, selections, readings, and other materials listed here are provided as a convenience.

The content provided here intends to provide awareness and resources only. Seek information from qualified physicians or mental health care professionals for specific questions related to a medical condition or mental health issue.

The content provided here is limited and is not intended to address urgent care or crisis stabilization support. Crisis resources can be found at here.