College of Education Self-Care

  • Participants at the self-care drum session
  • Sunset over water
  • Blue lens flares
  • Zen garden with rocks
  • Sunset over hills
  • Spiral staircase
  • Path through trees with autumn leaves

Self-care: How nature can heal you

August 3, 2020

Dear COE faculty and staff,

We all love viewing a beautiful garden or towering trees in a cool green forest. But did you know that spending time in nature can actually improve your physical and emotional health? Dr. John La Puma, MD, became the first physician to teach a class in nature therapy at a major US university, Harvard. He has created a YouTube presentation “ChefMD's Green Cure: How Gardening and Nature Can Heal What Ails You” in which he shares information and research about the healing effects of spending time in nature.
Additional resources for Dr. Puma's presentation (.pdf)
Some of these benefits include a decrease in burnout, stress and depression, and an improvement in a variety of physical health areas. In this video, Dr. La. Puma describes a number of theories about why nature has such a healing effect. For example, findings by Dr. Rachel Kaplan and others have shown that spending time in nature activates the parasympathetic nervous system needed to feel calm and counters the sympathetic nervous system which activates the fight or flight response associated with feeling stress. Below are several articles which cover these findings.

Dr. La Puma recommends gardening, visiting a park, exercising outside, even time with a pet as proven ways to reduce stress and physical symptoms and increase well-being. Other information about the benefits of nature can be found in the resource list attached.


We need the healing benefits of nature more than ever right now. So go be in nature and take good care of yourselves!

And please continue to look at our self-care website for additional resources at


Shari and Josh