Different environments give students a safe place at school


Photo by Tyson Jamieson

Emily Oba

[dropcap size=”4″]U [/dropcap]ncomfortable moments often seem to last hours instead of just a couple minutes. Whether it’s a new school or a new group of people, when students are not in an environment they are familiar with they are more likely to get stressed out or feel vulnerable.
At school students find various places as their safe spots. It could be in the band hallway, art room or the media center. Whatever place it is, teens tend to go to the same location during their free time at school.  
For senior Camille McManus the most cozy spot is the EEE room. She found the room freshman year when she had EEE advisory and has continued to hang out there throughout high school.
“It kind of makes me feel at home when I’m in the [EEE room] because I’m just able to hang out whenever,” McManus said. “I feel like I can either do homework or just hang out if I need to. [I can] talk to anyone.”
People look for and stay in psychologically comfortable locations because it makes them feel safe and gives them a sense of security, according to an article from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing.  The article also stated that safe environments can be beneficial for people because it can aid in starting conversations, and can affect mood and decision making.  
Along with a safe spot being the go-to place for certain students, it can also be where groups of friends all hang out. Sophomore Alison Scrivner is at the atrium during her free time at school.
“[I like the atrium because] it is just where all of my friends and I meet up in the mornings. It’s a good place to get homework done in Alternating Unassigned Time (AUT),” Scrivner said. “Everyone needs a place at school where they feel comfortable and can get work done.”
While different environments can bring a sense of comfort and belonging, it is not always beneficial to a person. When a student continues to go to one certain classroom or place, it can lead to never stepping outside comfort zones.
“The drawbacks associated with camping out where you are comfortable in school usually have to do with avoiding the areas that could really allow us to struggle, grow and develop into the strong, courageous adults most of us dream of being,” Psychologist Dr. Jonathan Rhodes said. “Conversely, stepping outside of our comfort-zones with the courage and a willingness to be uncomfortable often allows us to develop new friendships and engage in valued activities. These things are really predictive of a healthy, meaningful student-life.”
Although the Performing Arts Center (PAC) lobby is sophomore Kate Thompson’s favorite spot, she doesn’t constantly go there. The reason Thompson particularly enjoys the PAC lobby is because she goes to Friday morning Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings, where she is surrounded by welcoming people. Thompson always feels that she can go to the PAC whenever she’s feeling down.
“[I like the PAC lobby] because we get to be with other Christian students,” Thompson said. “I feel a part of something [when I’m there].”
Even though experiencing new things can be healthy for students, having a familiar and relaxed place at school can lower stress. According to a report by Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University and Georgia Institute of Technology College of Architecture, the design of a hospital room did not just lower stress, but lowered fatigue and improved work quality.
“[It’s important to have a favorite place at RBHS because] if you ever get stressed out at school you can’t just leave,” McManus said. “You have to go and find a place where you can not be as stressed and have fun while you are still at school.”
Dr. Rhodes believes even though it is difficult for students to get out of their safe boundaries, it is equally important to learn to face those fears and grow as a person.  
It can be very tempting to run to the places that make you comfortable because stepping outside of them can also trigger those scary little voices inside our head, worrying about thoughts like not being good enough, being a freak or being unlovable,” Rhodes said. “However, learning to take those insecurities with you is actually a really important part of growing up.”