Nature with Dr. Stacy Beller Stryer & Amanda d'Almeida

"Nature prescriptions aren't just for patients; they're for colleagues, friends, all of us." —Dr. Stacy Beller Stryer

Guest Bios

Dr. Stacy Beller Stryer is a pediatrician currently doing public health work for the federal government, and associate medical director for Park Rx America, where she educates healthcare providers, schools, employee wellness organizations, park agencies and other organizations on benefits of nature and nature prescriptions, working with these groups and the core team to strategize ways to move this mission forward. She is a frequent speaker at conferences and news outlets, was interviewed for several podcasts and published on this topic. Dr. Beller Stryer previously served as a health promotion and disease prevention coordinator in the Indian Health Service, was a pediatric subject expert for an online health website, Revolution Health. More recently, she worked with the local school system to increase awareness and promote outdoor classrooms and green schoolyards and served on Governor Hogan's task force for "Project Green Classrooms." She wants others to benefit from nature as much as she has through the years.

Amanda d’Almeida is a fourth-year MD/MPH candidate at Tulane University School of Medicine. She is applying to family medicine residency programs. She is CEO and cofounder of Medicine Explained, a 501(3)(c) organization and health education platform with 1.8M+ followers, specializing in high-engagement educational content, including for social media, to increase health literacy. This organization has global partnerships. Medicine Explained has created educational content on women’s health topics, especially around puberty. Amanda is currently in the process of publishing a book on menstrual cycles for female-bodied people ages 10-12 which will be published in Spring, 2022. Amanda is currently working on policy to address both planetary and human health at the national level.

She co-hosts the podcast "the nuance: a health podcast" through which she met Dr. Stacy Stryer. She loves the idea of using nature to heal and prevent diseases. She has always been passionate about spending time in and protecting the environment. Her future career will focus on the intersection of human and planetary health, as we cannot be healthy in a sick environment.

Episode Pearls

Nature is all around us; we can experience it every day, in little ways

  • Nature doesn't have to be this absolutely pristine setting we visit on special occasions, or that we only experience once in a lifetime (think of Yosemite, Grand Teton, Niagara Falls). Nature is anything that is green, brown, or red in a natural setting - it could be a garden in your backyard or a birdfeeder; it could be a park a mile away or a walking area that you see in your neighborhood.

Nature Prescriptions are unique to each individual, and they are designed with one's particular circumstance or environment in mind

  • A Nature Prescription is a specific place or activity that each individual patient will do at a specific time, a specific number of days a week.

  • Just like traditional medical prescriptions, these are to be followed up on to assess their effectiveness and the need for adjustment.

There are proven benefits of nature for our health and well-being

  • Studies have demonstrated that blood pressure and cortisol levels decreased, and heart rate variability improved after periods of immersing oneself in a natural setting.

  • Research participants have reported lower levels of stress, improved mood, and an enhanced sense of overall well-being with as little as 20-30 minutes of being outside.

We all have a part to play in protecting our natural environment

  • Spending more time in nature can help us feel more connected to the environment and become better advocates for environmental justice and sustainability.

  • Environmental justice isn't just about being stewards of our environment and protecting the planet; it also includes increasing safety and access to nature for everyone especially those who live in minoritized communities.

Further Reading

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative by Florence Williams

Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life by Richard Louv

The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Village by Richard Louv

Reflection Questions

  1. What do you define as nature?

  2. What would your personal nature prescription entail?

  3. If you could carry a piece of nature with you everywhere, what would it be?

  4. Where in nature do you feel most at peace? most alive? most at home?

GOAL: Think about your current environment and come up with a nature prescription for yourself. Where would you go? What would you do there? How often and for how long? If you made this a routine, how do you think your health will be impacted in the long run?

Credits

Host: Dr. Rebekah Byrne, MD

Guest: Dr. Stacy Beller Stryer, MD

Student Interviewer: Amanda d'Almeida

Producer: Erika Bennett, Lota Ofodile, Alexander Blum

Sound Design: Timothy Knowlton

Original Music (Composed & Performed): Timothy Knowlton