Education at OHSU

Scholars of Well-Being

 Student Health's year-long Scholars of Well-being program aims to develop and nurture student leaders in wellness while centering their own well-being in the process. Students propose and lead or co-lead wellness projects in collaboration with Student Health to benefit the OHSU student community. 

Applications are now open for the 2023-2024 cohort! View the full role description and email this brief application to Jen Cai at caije@ohsu.edu by Oct. 9, 2023, to apply or with any questions. 

Thank you to former (now graduated!) PA student and SHAC Co-Chair Lili Bornio Carrillo for her leadership in co-developing this offering.  

We were thrilled to welcome our first cohort of OHSU Scholars of Well-being Student Leaders in 2022-2023 and they did a wonderful job designing and offering wellness projects for students. See below for a few of the projects, resources, and events that they developed. 

For a full list of resources and programming visit the Wellness page.

Juliet Baker in orange shirt and pink hat surrounded by trees.
National Public Lands Day event in Forest Park

Hello, my name is Juliet Baker, Class of 2023 in the 3-year BSN program at the Portland campus. Connecting to nature is very important to me and has been since I was young. The flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest inspires me to volunteer for organizations whose missions include stewardship, climate justice, and health equity. These include Forest Park ConservancyFriends of Trees, and Willamette Riverkeeper. 

As we begin the Spring term, I would like to motivate folks to connect with nature in a personal way -- which can be as simple as a one-minute pause. Re-connecting to the natural world has been shown to have multiple health benefits.  

I invite fellow OHSU students to consider their relationship with the natural spaces around us. Learn more about the nearby green space: Marquam Nature Park Loop Hike.

Please see the contents of this page for inspiration and education. Feel free to email me with questions and share your favorite ways to connect with nature on campus. 

Juliet 

bakerjul@ohsu.edu 

Land Acknowledgment 

Image with birds and trees in the background with lettering saying Nature Calm, relieve anxiety & worry

Upcoming Events

April is Earth Month!

Other Events

Helpful resources

Websites

  • Healing Forest
    • Healing Forest takes you on a fascinating journey of inner change and transformation through nature. Discover priceless ways to cultivate a calm mind, a healthy body, and a peaceful life. Together let's learn the secrets of healing in nature, with nature, and know how to deal with the chaos of our times
  • University of Washington Nature and Health
    • Nature and Health seeks to understand the connections between nature and human health and well-being. We work to translate that understanding into programs, practices, policies, and the design of healthcare, educational, and community settings that benefit all people and nature. 
  • How Does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing?
    • University of Minnesota's Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing
  • Nurtured by Nature 
    • American Psychological Associated article by Kirsten Weir

Podcasts & Videos

  • Our Better Nature: How The Great Outdoors Can Improve Your Life (2018) Hidden Brain
    • Shankar Vedantam talks with Ming Kuo, Ph D about the physiological and psychological benefits of spending time in nature. 
  • Prescribing Nature for Health, Noonshin Razani, MD at TEDx Nashville 
    • Dr. Nooshin Razani talks about the healing power of nature as well as why it is her mission to prescribe time in nature as a way to treat health conditions. 
  • Vitamin N, Ming Kuo, PhD at TEDx Dirigo
    • Dr. Ming Kuo’s (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) extensive research scientifically proves what we intrinsically know to be true: That spending time in nature has profoundly positive and long-lasting effects on our psychological, physical, and social health.   
  • Making Spaces of Awe and Restoration, Florence Williams
    • Author of The Nature Fix
  • Webinar: Healing Power of Nature
    • Free webinar from Dr. Jean Larson. Dr. Jean Larson (Bakken Center and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum), introduces the rationale, evidence, and benefits of Nature-Based Therapeutics and explains the critical role of nature in self-care, community-building, and planetary health.  

Books

  • Wild in the City
    • Comprehensive reference and go-to field guide for hikers, cyclists, paddlers, bird watchers and nature enthusiasts.
  • The Nature Fix: Why nature makes us happier, healthier, and more creative by Florence Williams
  • The Nature Principle by Richard Louv
  • The Curious Nature Guide by Clare Walker Leslie 
    • Using stunning photography as well as the author's own original illustrations, The Curious Nature Guide will inspire you to use all of your senses to notice the colors, sounds, smells, and textures of the trees, plants, animals, birds, insects, clouds, and other features that can be seen right outside your home, no matter where you live. 

Academic Publications

Derose, K. P., Wallace, D. D., Han, B., & Cohen, D. A. (2021). Effects of park-based interventions on health-related outcomes: A systematic review. Preventive Medicine, 147, 106528. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2021.106528 

Frumkin, H., Bratman, G. N., Breslow, S. J., ... (2017). Nature contact and human health: A research agenda. Environmental Health Perspectives, 125(7), 075001. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP1663 

Park, B. J., Tsunetsugu, Y., Kasetani, T., Kagawa, T., & Miyazaki, Y. (2010). The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing). Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, 15(1), 18–26. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12199-009-0086-9 

Robbins, J. (9 January 2020). Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health. https://e360.yale.edu/features/ecopsychology-how-immersion-in-nature-benefits-your-health 

Seltenrich, N. (2017). From intuitive to evidence based: Developing the science of nature as a public health resource. Environmental Health Perspectives, 125(11), 114002. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP2613 

Sudimac, S., Sale, V., & Kühn, S. (2022). How nature nurtures: Amygdala activity decreases as the result of a one-hour walk in nature. Molecular Psychiatry, 27, 4446–4452. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-022-01720-6 

Text with daily reminder to have compassion for yourself.

Scholar of Well-being and PA Student, Julianne Chaves has created a variety of resources on healthcare stress resilience, coping mechanisms, and burnout prevention. She is interested in finding true work-life balance and burnout prevention in today's climate. 

Julianne created a presentation on Stress Resilience for Healthcare workers and discusses the psychological effects of a pandemic on healthcare workers and helpful coping mechanisms. You can access the presentation here

Resources 

Julianne has also created resources to be shared via social media. 

Meditation room signage with white background and green vines on the border

Scholar of Well-being and MD '26 student Julia Liu focused her project on revamping the meditation room located on the 5th floor in RSLB. She has seen her peers struggling with stress and the impacts of seasonal affective disorder. Julia's project included redesigning the meditation room to provide stress relief resources and a general place to decompress for her peers. She was able to redesign the meditation room with light therapy lamps, yoga mats, and information on wellness resources.

Check out the mediation room on the 5th floor of RLSB to see all of Julia's amazing work!

Gareth Harman was part of the initial Scholars of Well-being cohort and developed a Self-Compassion student group for his project. Gareth is a PhD student in Bioinformatics and Computational Biomedicine '23. 

"Having compassion for yourself is to honor and accept your humanness"

- Kristin Neff

What is self-compassion? 

Self-compassion is treating ourselves with the same kindness and patience that we would a close friend. Fostering self-compassion allows us to become safe to turn toward in the most difficult times. We practice treating ourselves gently and remember our humanness, that at our most basic level, we deserve compassion and understanding, especially from ourselves. 

Myths about self-compassion. 

  1. It denies negative feelings and is pretending to always be "happy". 
    1. Difficult feelings [sadness, anger, frustration] are normal and healthy. We deny nothing and instead fully embrace whatever we are feeling without shaming ourselves for feeling it. 
  2. It leads me to be weak and doesn't foster strength. 
    1. Quite the opposite, an act of self-compassion could involve setting a boundary with someone, and takes enormous strength and courage to do so. 
  3. It is selfish to prioritize myself.
    1. We cannot pour from an empty cup. With a self-compassion practice, we find great opportunities to extend compassion. 
  4. I wouldn't be successful without shaming and being hard on myself. 

Recent research suggests that the opposite may be true. Encouraging self-talk is a fantastic motivator. Furthermore, we are less likely to spiral after disappointment or a perceived failure and to more rationally assess how we can improve to get where we want to be. 

Compassion begets compassion. 

Many people strive to bring compassion to others or to their work. However, many of these same people neglect to include themselves in that goal. We are what we continuously practice. Compassion becomes much more accessible when we learn to extend it to ourselves in all situations. After frequent practice, compassion becomes the first thing we reach for during times of difficulty- not shame, not self-judgment, and not isolation. If our goal is to bring as much compassion into the lives of those we interact with, we must start with ourselves. 

Mindful Self-Compassion  

The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook (Drs. Kristin Neff & Christopher Germer) is a great introduction and guide. to an entire career spent studying the facets, evidence, and intricacies of incorporating and mindfulness centered (or being present with the current moment) self-compassion within their own lives, clinical settings, and academic settings. 

Additional research and the factor structure of self-compassion 

Researchers studying self-compassion unearthed five distinct components to their self-compassion study (Straus et al 2016). 

1. Acknowledgment of suffering 

We acknowledge that we are [sad, disappointed, upset, and angry] and do not disconnect or minimize these feelings. 

2. Connecting to the human experience 

We acknowledge that what we are feeling is a common part of the human experience and that there is nothing [wrong, unfair, unjust] about having normal thoughts and feelings, and that these in fact help us connect with the commonality of the human experiences. 

3. Emotionally connecting with the suffering 

We connect with all aspects of what we are feeling. We meet the [sadness, frustration, anger] head-on. We feel the full range of feelings and do not run from, distract, or deny our normal and healthy thoughts or feelings. 

Note: This does not mean we engage with negative thinking such as "I did [X] which means I am [Y]", but more that we acknowledge "I am feeling sad about [X], it is okay to feel [X]." 

4. Tolerating the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that come up 

Often, these thoughts and feelings are uncomfortable, especially at first, feeling [sad, mad, frustrated] is a challenging emotion to hold. But to incorporate feelings of compassion we must first be able to hold the thought/feeling long enough to get to know it. 

Often, this is used to describe the metaphor of meeting any guest (thought/feeling) that shows up at the dinner table with the same level of compassion. We greet challenging thoughts and feelings with the same courage and kindness that we would feel happiness and pride. All feelings are valid, and we have space to hold all of them. 

5. Acting or the desire to act to alleviate suffering 

This step is that of transformation. Often difficult feelings leave us feeling trapped, limited, or afraid, but when we learn to greet these feelings with compassion, we uncover additional elements of expansiveness and courage. We learn that all thoughts and feelings are welcome and that we have the courage to accept our humanity. The heart opens in the face of these challenging situations. 

Note: Here we mention the alleviation of "suffering". In the self-compassion practice, we are not trying to remove difficult feelings. This feels paradoxical at first, but we learn that most of the suffering comes from the additional judgment, shame, and unwillingness to sit with these feelings and not the initial feeling itself. These aspects of suffering are those that dissolve in the face of compassion. Our goal is not to never be sad, mad, or disappointed. These are normal and healthy parts of the human experience. Our goal is to connect with these normal thoughts and feelings without getting lost in patterns of negative self-talk or rumination and to maintain kindness to ourselves in the face of these difficult feelings. 

Example scenario: Your recent test scores were much lower than you had hoped for. 

Typical non-self-compassionate talk/beliefs 

  • “I cannot believe I did so poorly on that test, I am so dumb” 
  • “I don't deserve to be in graduate school” 
  • “I bet I'm the only one that did poorly “ 
  • “This proves that I won't be successful post school” 
  • “I bet I will do poorly on the next test too” 

Responding with the components of compassion. 

  1. I am feeling sad and disappointed that I performed lower than I would have liked on that test. 
  2. However, I acknowledge that it is a very common experience to feel disappointed about a poor test result. It is okay that I am having these feelings. 
  3. I can be gentle with myself and these feelings, and I acknowledge these are challenging feelings to hold. 
  4. However, I have the courage and resiliency to sit with and not run from these difficult feelings and to not engage with potential negative self-talk.  
  5. In the future, I would like to [ask for help, devote a little more time to studying [X], and take care of my personal life (sleep)] to encourage a score I am confident I can achieve. 

Self-compassion is meeting ourselves with kindness, patience, and understanding in all moments. There is no situation in which we are not deserving of our own compassion.  

Self-compassion is a practice, it takes time and effortful action to learn to reach for self-compassion and disengage with harmful and limiting negative self-talk. It is normal for the practice to be difficult and take time. However, it really does change your life. We can find enormous strength in choosing compassion in all things.  

Resources:

  1. https://self-compassion.org, Dr. Kristin Neff 
  2. What is compassion and how can we measure it? A review of definitions and measures. Straus et al 2016. DOI: 10.1016/j.cpr.2016.05.004. Clinical Psychology Review.