The annual Bell Let’s Talk Day event in Canada encourages people to talk about mental health issues. Bell has been sponsoring the event since 2011 and donates five cents to Canadian mental health programs for every social media post that use #BellLetsTalk during the day.
The South Nation Conservation Authority (SNC) also wants residents of communities within the South Nation River watershed and outside of the region to consider going outdoors on Lets Talk Day and any other day to help promote both physical and mental health. Being physically active outdoors during the winter is a good way to help prevent feelings of depression and anxiety that may be exacerbated by the short days and long nights.
“Stepping into nature and staying active is more important now than ever,” stated Shannon Gutoski, SNC communications specialist. “Nature can enhance our health and happiness.”
The Canadian Mental Health Association noted that many people feel more depressed during the winter season. The pandemic, with its past history of lockdowns and restrictions on social gatherings and other actitivities, has also helped create anxiety and stress for many people. Getting outdoors during the daytime, enjoying the sunlight, and getting active through solo or family activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or tobogganing can provide both emotional and mental relief.
The SNC has numerous conservation areas open during the winter for outdoor recreation. They include the W.E. Burton and J. Henry Tweed sites in Russell, Two Creeks Forest and Robert Graham Forest in South Dundas, Warwick Forest in North Stormont, and Oschmann Forest in North Dundas. The SNC also provides trail grooming assistance at Nokomis Park in Limoges and the Russell Recreational Trail. All visitors to SNC conservation areas and trails are asked to show respect to other users and to practise social distancing when encountering other trail users.
“To help everyone enjoy outdoor experiences, please be respectful towards other visitors,” stated Gutoskie. “Many people get outdoors to enjoy nature and seek some solitude. Excessive noise, unleashed pets, and obstructive behavior can take away from the experience, and you never know just how important that experience may be for some.”