Sheffield Uni libraries now have ‘stretching areas’ with yoga mats to help mental health

Procrastination on another level

There was a time when university libraries were walls of intense reading, grit and sheer willpower.

Now they have yoga mats.

The University of Sheffield has introduced "stretching areas" in its libraries in a bid to improve student mental health for this year's January exam season.

Foam mats have appeared on the fourth floor of Western Bank, and the first floor of the IC and Diamond, ready for students returning from the holidays.

"Whether you’re finding it hard to focus or you need time out from the stress that studying long hours can bring, stretching could be of benefit," a new library webpage reads.

Alison Little, the university's associate director of learning strategy and student engagement, told The Tab Sheffield: "[…] The stretching areas were created in response to direct feedback from students, to help them focus when spending longer hours studying.

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The new 'yoga area' on the first floor of the Diamond

"Student wellbeing is incredibly important and we strive to encourage all students to study healthily and to take regular breaks."

It received a mixed reaction. Jamie Huddlestone, a second-year computer science student, tweeted: "I love my university. Thanks @sheffielduni for being proactive and creative towards student welfare."

But a first-year student, who wished to remain anonymous, called the stretching areas "very patronising".

"It's like saying 'our mental health services could be better but here’s some mats to stretch those worries away'," she said. "It's the library, not the gym."

The mats will be available until February 8, but could become a permanent feature of the libraries if they go down well.

It follows the opening of the IC's Garden Room, a "space of relaxation and calm", in October.

Dubbed a sleeping room, the space has comfy chairs, cushions and dim lighting for students to take time out while bashing out an all-nighter.