When I think about a healing environment, rest, beauty and love instantly come to mind. Yet, how often do we encounter any of these three qualities in a typical healthcare encounter? Or in any workplace? Let’s examine each.


“I need a place to rest,” bemoaned Jacob Cole, co-founder of IdeaFlow, headquartered in Silicon Valley. He was frustrated by having no place to relax other than crashing at friends’ homes on his endless trips to and from San Francisco from Menlo Park.

Rafael Cosman, co-founder of TrustToken, a blockchain and cryptocurrency global giant, created a “Zen Den” for his employees just for this purpose. “It’s very frequently used,” he says. “No tech allowed. Only contemplative practice and rest once inside this cozy haven.”

Resting just 10 minutes a day, best timed during your (typically) mid-afternoon circadian slump can do wonders for your well-being. Rest is not staring at screens, watching TV, or even reading.

It’s stopping. Stopping. Think siesta time in countries outside of the U.S. or savasana (corpse pose) at the end of yoga class.

Businesses are beginning to get the message. Nap lounges, sleep pods and rest centers are popping up.

For example, The Dreamery in New York City offers a private pod to rest in for 45 minutes. The $25 fee includes comfy pajamas, refreshments and amenities. Oh, yes!


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so they say. For me, nature does not disappoint. We used to spend a lot time outdoors. Remember running around outside until dark as children?

Richard Louv has spent his career championing the benefits of being in nature and makes a compelling case for, “The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”

Evidence is expanding — spending time in the environment enhances not only an individual’s well-being, but the health of society and the planet.Yoshifumi Miyazaki leads the research on forest bathing — walking meditatively and mindfully amongst the trees.

Providers are now writing prescriptions to get patients outdoors. They’re even taking people out for walks themselves!

Music and art are salve for the soul. Curiously, I’ve experienced both most often in healthcare when caring for the dying.

Therese Schroeder-Sheker, founder of music thanatology, applies prescriptive music using voice and the harp, therapeutically synchronizing melodies, harmonies and rhythms with presenting signs and symptoms, easing suffering for patients, families and staff.

At the large nonprofit hospice I worked at, the inpatient care center had rotating juried art exhibits framing its walls. After a long day in the office or the field, I would sometimes go out of my way to stop by and bask in all the glory, coming away a bit more soothed and centered.


Who hasn’t been healed in some small way by a loving touch, a caring word, a gesture of kindness? We need each other. Loneliness kills.

Evidence shows that socially connecting is as important to our well-being as not smoking and even more so than eating right or exercising.

Look at what we’ve learned from living in the “Blue Zones.” Longevity soars with a daily lifestyle that includes faith, family and friends.

And there’s power in the presence of each other even at our medical appointments. Some of us have been experimenting with “group visits” or “group medical appointments” for years. Benefits include increased compliance, improved outcomes and greater satisfaction — and for the providers, too!

Kate Strasburg and Traci Teraoka, co-founders of Healing Environments, spent 15 years creating environments conducive to healing. Let’s take up their torch and put on our thinking caps. How can we make our workplaces more of a healing environment?