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Concordia University Wisconsin is first university in Wisconsin to acquire SMART Lab

Concordia University Wisconsin is the only institution in Wisconsin, and one of few in the nation, to offer a Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART) Laboratory.

This 24-hour resource is designed to equip students with proactive, self-coping mechanisms for their emotional health, and has proven effective in reducing stress and anxiety before they escalate to a level that requires more intervention.

The lab, which opened in November 2019, utilizes tools including biometric feedback (or biofeedback) and online educational modules to help students learn about mindfulness, meditation, and breathing techniques in order to reduce stress, anxiety, or feelings of panic.

Biofeedback therapy trains people to improve their health by controlling certain bodily processes that normally happen involuntarily, such as heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, or skin temperature. Concordia’s lab allows students to connect an electrical sensor to their ear, which monitors heart rate variability as they practice the coping techniques.

Named Evelyn’s Place after a beloved CUW employee, Concordia’s lab is housed near the Student Life offices on campus. The lab features pods, or self-contained areas, which help to maintain privacy even when multiple users are present. It also boasts several other relaxation services, such as electric massage chairs. Students are granted keycard access to enter the room. Access is received after they participate in an initial online orientation.

“The beauty of this lab is that, once they’re trained, they can access it 24/7,” says Dean of Students Dr. Steve Gerner. “Today’s Concordians—and college students in general—are facing more pressure than any other generation. Our Christian mission compels us to not only care about how well students are performing on tests or within the classroom, but to care about the whole person.”