DMHAS and DEEP Announce Series of Wellness Activities in State Parks
Southbury, CT – The Connecticut Departments of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) and Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), in collaboration with local-nonprofit Toivo, are excited to announce a series of mindful outdoor experiences in local and state parks. DMHAS Commissioner Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon and DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes will participate in the first virtual wellness event at Kettletown State Park in Southbury on Monday, August 10th, 2020 at 10am.
The event, which will be live-streamed on Facebook, is part of an effort to promote the mental health benefits of the outdoors and nature. This will be the first of a series of live-streamed mindful outdoor experiences that will occur this summer at parks throughout the state. The interagency collaboration will offer tools to manage stress and will promote mental and physical health while connecting with nature and enjoying the beauty of our state while maintaining safe social distancing.
“We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful state where nature’s splendor, coupled with stress-relieving activities can offer relief in this challenging time,” said DMHAS Commissioner Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon. “For many, the serenity of nature can have a positive impact on one’s mental health, including promoting positivity and decreasing levels of anxiety and stress.”
Spending time in nature can have a profoundly positive and salutary impact on mental health. Being with nature can activate the body's natural ability to heal, acting as a remedy for stress, relieving feelings of depression and anxiety, boosting happiness and improving mood all while creating a sense of positive health and wellbeing.
“Since the beginning of this pandemic, our State parks and forests have seen a significant increase in usage, in some cases more than doubling the number of users we typically see,” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. “Whether you’re fishing, birdwatching, visiting a park, taking a walk in your neighborhood, sitting in your backyard, or connecting to nature through online programs, connecting to nature is a powerful way to relieve stress and anxiety during this challenging time. We hope this series can highlight all the benefits nature has to offer.”
The live-streamed events will feature staff from Toivo, a Hartford-based health and wellness center, and will be funded by the Department of Mental Health and Addictions Services. Toivo offers a wide range of wellness classes including yoga, Qigong, and sound healing. People can participate in the livestream through DEEP’s Facebook Page.
In this series, facilitators will guide people through a variety of mind-body wellness practices at different parks across Connecticut. The goal of this series will be to empower people to experience their local green spaces more mindfully, enhance their connection with the natural world, and in turn improve their overall sense of health and happiness. No previous experience is necessary, classes and parks are accessible for all. To receive updates on class times and locations you can follow the campaign on DEEP’s Facebook page and DEEP’s Twitter at @CTDEEPNews and by following the #natureheals hashtag.
There are 142 State Parks and Forests located throughout the state, with residents never more than 15 minutes from one. All residents with Connecticut license plates on their vehicles can enter all Connecticut State Parks and Forest without paying a fee to enjoy the state's natural resources as part of the Passport to the Parks Program.
For a list of Connecticut State Parks and Forests, go to www.ct.gov/deep/parks.
*Image courtesy Town of Southbury