mental health

Mental Health Experts Stress Importance of Getting Outside During Pandemic

Experts say that the limited capacity at beaches and pools does not need to be a barrier to getting outside and taking care of your mental wellness.

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With COVID-19 restrictions in place, the list of destinations to spend time outside and stay cool this summer is limited. Rocky Neck State Park filled to capacity by 10 a.m. Monday. It is a common story for many public beaches along the shoreline.

As the number of options remains limited, with social distancing in mind, mental health experts are stressing that it is still important to spend some time outside every day.

"We are stressed. We are anxious," explained Janelle Posey-Green, a licensed clinical social worker in New London and owner of Magnolia Wellness, LLC. "There is a relationship between us needing sunlight, oxygen and mental wellness. It actually increases your mental wellness."

Posey-Green said that being outside is important for mental health at all times, but especially during the pandemic. She said that you do not need a beach or a hiking trail nearby to get outside, noting that not everyone has access to that kind of environment. It can be as simple as taking a five or ten-minute walk, according to Posey-Green.

"Just get that mental break and some clarity," said Posey-Green, also suggesting that people garden, eat lunch outside or just sit in a park for a short time.

"Allowing yourself to just disconnect where you are is the key," she continued.

Pedro Valentin was able to get a spot on the beach at Rocky Neck State Park Monday before it reached capacity.

"Just living the life," said Valentin.

The Meriden resident said that he knows what it feels like to be turned away from Rocky Neck when it is filled to capacity.

"Your whole day is destroyed. You come here after like an hour drive and if you have kids in the car, it is worse. It is just the worst," said Valentin.

Valentin had a camping trip planned Monday that brought him to the beach. He said that it was a perfect time of rest and relaxation after several stressful months.

“I actually go to a therapist and this is one of the top things that she recommends is going to the beach," said Valentin. "It is the sounds of the ocean. It is the water. It is the breeze. It is very, very relaxing."

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the CT Recreation and Parks Association has curated a list of swimming areas open across the state.

The state's tourism office created a list of COVID-safe activities to do outside.

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