Supporting Your Well-being

During Times of Difficulty — March 20th, 2020 Edition

Flexibility in the Face of Constant Change

Dear community,

These are challenging times for us all, and in the face of constant change we must remain flexible. To those of you who are joining us from our previous Nature Rx newsletters, we've chosen to grow and adapt to meet new needs. We'll be transitioning this newsletter to broaden its focus to ways you can maximize your mental health and holistic well-being in light of the circumstances we are currently living through. In these newsletters, we will share strategies to support your mental health, physical wellness, keep connected, engage with nature, practice gratitude and mindfulness, have fun, maintain a sense of purpose, and share a multitude of resources to turn to as we all try to adapt to our new "normal." Though it is a time for physical distance and isolation, it is also a time for emotional connections to flourish; know we are all with each other during this, and we will come back together stronger, and kinder, and better when this is through.

Wishing you wellness,

The Skorton Center for Health Initiatives at Cornell Health

Staying Active

For many of us, daily movement and staying active is a key component of supporting our physical and mental health. Though gyms are currently closed, there are many ways to remain active. For example, you can practice yoga in your own home, walk or jog outdoors, or find guided workout videos online to follow. Cornell Wellness is also currently offering a wide variety of virtual services. Additionally, Cornell Fitness Centers will begin to offer LIVE virtual fitness classes free for the Cornell community via Zoom on Monday, March 23rd! View the virtual classes link on the CFC webpage for class dates, times, and helpful information.

Big picture

An Update from the Botanic Gardens:

As we know, there are countless tangible health and well-being benefits associated with spending time in nature. Though the F.R. Newman Arboretum gates and lower Cascadilla Gorge trails of the Botanic Gardens will remain closed for the season and all events have been cancelled until further notice, the Botanic Gardens still welcomes the public to enjoy the natural beauty of their grounds! If you choose to visit and enjoy the many physical and emotional benefits of nature, also remain mindful of others by respecting rules of social distancing; remain 6 feet from others, visit in groups no greater than 10, and please refrain from interacting directly with botanic gardens staff. As the weather warms up, enjoy this wonderful resource and the natural beauty we have available all around us!

The Next Best Thing

Right now, physical distancing and avoiding crowded or high-traffic areas are some of the best methods of protecting yourself from illness, but staying indoors more than you're used to can give you a case of cabin fever. Luckily, there are many ways to still get your daily dose of nature, even if you're quarantining at home. Try watching a nature documentary, listening to birdsong, or just spending some time gazing out your window. Additionally, advanced technology offers us the ability to feel immersed in nature right from our own homes. On YouTube, you can now find many virtual reality nature experiences where you can use your mouse to explore 360 degrees of nature scenes! Enjoy an example below! (Turn up the video quality in the video settings to get the best experience)

Virtual Nature 360° - 5.7K Nature Meditation for Oculus Quest

Research Spotlight:

Can Simulated Nature Support Mental Health? Comparing Short, Single-Doses of 360-Degree Nature Videos in Virtual Reality With the Outdoors

In a study of undergraduate students, exposure to nature in virtual reality (VR) was compared to in-person nature exposure and a control condition. Findings reflected potential benefits of VR experiences that were similar to outdoor exposures, indicating that nature VR may be a promising alternative to the "real thing" for individuals unable to access nature (or for all of us as we practice physical distancing and limit our exposure out in public!)

Bright Spots

Who Let the Penguins Out?

While closed to the public due to COVID-19 precautions, Chicago's Shedd Aquarium treated some of their flippered friends to a field trip! Several penguins, including a bonded pair of Rockhopper penguins, got to experience the aquarium from the other side of the glass and pay a visit to some of their aquatic neighbors!
Penguins take a field trip during shutdown | GMA Digital

Get in Touch

  • Contact Catherine Thrasher-Carroll, Mental Health Promotion Program Director, at
  • Contact Amber Pasha, Public Health Fellow, at
  • All Cornell students, regardless of location, can access medical and mental health services through FREE telehealth appointments with Cornell Health (appointments may be offered by video, phone, or online, depending on your location and need). Our in-person services are currently limited to pre-screened COVID-19 testing and select pharmacy services. As always, please refer to the Cornell Health website for the most up-to-date information regarding our services.