House Calls

WIN 2018

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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THE WORLD IS YOUR PLAYGROUND: (left) Dr. Bullen and her husband, Jason, and sons, Owen (on left) and Sam, at the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad's Polar Express in Bryson City, North Carolina, last year. (middle and top right) The family at home in Awendaw. (bottom right) Sam and Owen planting acorns. } } "Medicine is my calling. It's such a privilege to be involved in a patient's birth experience, and I think being a mom helps me connect in those moments even more." —Dr. Lauri Bullen we've even seen alligators," she says. Simply observing the draping branches of a mature live oak or watching a group of birds take flight can have a stress-melting effect. "It relaxes me," Dr. Bullen confirms. For Dr. Bullen and many others, spending time among flora and fauna is an instinctual way to seek balance in an ever-buzzing world. And the instinct is a good one, as scientific evidence increasingly ties well- being with access to nature. In a 2008 study, Stanford researchers found that outdoor exercise reduced neural activity in areas of the brain associated with depression, while a 2016 Harvard study linked neighborhood greenness with reduced obesity and improved mental health. It's no wonder, then, that throughout different phases of her life, Dr. Bullen has relied on green spaces to help her stay zen. She decided to study pre-med at Georgia College in part because of its proximity to her family's lake house. "I loved being there on the water," she says. "We had family gatherings on the weekends, spending lots of time on the boat and jet skis." Years later, after studying medicine at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, Dr. Bullen did her residency at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah. During this high-stress period, daily jogs through Forsyth Park provided a refreshing change of scenery and a chance to blow off steam. These days, she doesn't often have time for a major sweat session, but Dr. Bullen finds little ways to get outside, even if it's just a quick jaunt around Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital. "My colleague Dr. Lynch and I take walks around the hospital, or we'll take the long way from the doctor's lounge back to the office, just to get out and move," she says. These simple measures prove that you don't have to hike Mount Everest or even hit the gym to reap the benefits of fresh air and gentle exercise. At home, Dr. Bullen's backyard spans several acres, providing plenty more opportunities for getting active and communing with nature. An avid gardener, she can always find something to do there, from spreading mulch to mowing the grass to hand-pruning Asian jasmine vines. "Working in the yard is a real treat for me," Dr. Bullen says. "The kids help plant stuff too," she adds. "They've sprouted cantaloupes from grocery-store melons and we have about 25 oak trees growing from acorns they picked up in a Cracker Barrel parking lot." Sharing her laid-back but consistent approach to health with her family is a big part of Dr. Bullen's parenting philosophy. When she's not digging in the dirt with Owen and Sam, she's guiding them toward active play. "We try and limit their lounging around doing nothing," she says. "We'll turn off the TV and say: go outside and play, run a lap around the backyard. The kids will have Nerf-Gun wars, or they'll hit golf balls and I'll be their fetcher." In the kitchen, she's equally conscientious about modeling a healthy lifestyle. "Growing up, I never ate any vegetable that wasn't boiled to mush or from a can," Dr. Bullen says. These days, she and Jason don't have much time for cooking big meals from scratch, but no matter—they're intentional about getting fruits, veggies, and lean meats on their kiddo's plates. "We'll pick up rotisserie chicken and some fresh veggies for a quick, healthy meal. I'll serve them raw carrots or green beans stir- fried in olive oil; Owen can eat his weight in blueberries. It's just basic stuff, but now this is the norm for them so eating healthy won't be a big transition years down the road like it was for me." They say it's the little things in life, and for Dr. Bullen and family, that's a good reflection of their approach toward health and wellness. Referencing the fledgling oaks they've been nursing, she says something that pretty well sums up the whole picture: "It's a simple thing, but it's fun." P H O T O G R A P H S ( F A M I L Y A T R A I L R O A D A N D B O Y S P L A N T I N G A C O R N S ) C O U R T E S Y O F D R . B U L L E N 40 { winter 2018 } h o u s e c a l l s picture of health

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