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    Two Visions of America by Don Jans

    The Best Places To Take A Mental Health Break In Ventura County, California 

    by Patrick Bailey

    Over the past couple years, we’ve all heard a lot about mental health. Whether it’s the impact of the pandemic on ourselves and our neighbors or high-profile celebrities like Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka taking time out to focus on their own wellbeing, the phrase “mental health” has been in the news more than ever before. But what, exactly, does it mean?

    Mental health is the state in which psychological, emotional, and social well-being is characterized by –

    • An ability to manage/cope with life’s challenges or stressors.
    • An objective (and achievement) of realizing one’s potential.
    • A productive life in which one contributes to communities and society at large.

    The state of one’s mental health impacts one’s choices, feelings, and thinking – at all ages of life, and it also affects social and work relationships.

    Why is a Mental Health Break Important?

    A mental health break offers a reprieve from life’s chaos, unpredictability, and stress. It can take on any form – a quiet moment in the park sipping cappuccino, attending a yoga class, or a brisk walk with friends in a nearby park.

    The modern world, defined by 24 hours of multi-tasking, requires most to prioritize the scheduling of regular mental health breaks. – or be forced to face the eventual consequences. Without an opportunity to rebalance yourself or renew your spirit, mental health stressors can lead to chronic medical conditions like strokes, heart disease, or diabetes.

    Research suggests that resetting your inner balance, even for a few minutes, can offer these benefits

    • Restores focus which translates to increased productivity.
    • Prevents burnout and decision fatigue.
    • Improves memory, creativity, and job satisfaction.
    • Enhances mood and overall well-being, among others.

    The Best Places to Take a Mental Health Break in Ventura County, California.

    Ventura County is situated along the south-central California Pacific Coastline. There are a variety of enchanting cities and towns in Ventura County, including Thousand Oaks, Ventura, Oxnard, and two Channel Islands.

    The city of Ventura is the seat of Ventura County and was once the Old Mission Basilica San Buenaventura. Ventura is now a popular tourist destination with fascinating history, boutiques, live entertainment & attractions, a harbor, resorts, restaurants, colleges, and pristine beaches. These allow you to let your stress and worries quickly fade into the ocean backdrop.

    The Ventura Pier

    Ventura Pier holds the distinction of being California’s oldest pier and one of the favorite Ventura County attractions. It was built in the 1870s to assist in the county’s agricultural, oil and construction sectors. The nearby promenade offers great beachside boutique shopping, photo ops, delicious seafood, and Californian cuisine.

    A walk along the Ventura Pier, which is nearly a third of a mile long, is a great place to restore the balance needed for mental health. Taking in the stunning beauty, breathing salt air, and listening to the roar of crashing waves, can offer some serious levels of relaxation. The properties of ocean air have long been considered restorative– even before science confirmed long-held beliefs regarding the ocean’s healing power.

    In addition to physical benefits (like helping lung function or eczema), the beach can help increase your mindfulness, which results in a deeper self-awareness of the moment. Consider that spending time at the beach can –

    Serra Cross Park

    Serra Cross Park is an iconic attraction in Ventura County that is often one of the more popular wedding sites. Soon after the Old Mission Basilica, San Buenavista, was founded, a large wooden cross was erected on a nearby hill that served as a signpost for those searching for the Mission before the days of GPS. The wooden cross has been rebuilt several times since the 1780s, with a fire nearly destroying it in 2017.

    Serra Cross Park offers some of the area’s most captivating sights. The park is a great place to walk alone to collect your thoughts or sit on a bench watching a magical, color-changing sunset over the nearby eucalyptus trees. And the benefits of a mental break at Serra Cross Park last long after the sun has disappeared beneath the horizon.

    Watching a sunset puts you in the present moment automatically. Research suggests that focusing on a sunset puts great perspective on what’s truly important in your life. This develops a strong foundation from which to operate.

    Surfers Point at Seaside Park

    Surfers Point Beach is located near Ventura Pier, and the Omer Rains Bike Trail connects the two Ventura County sights. This amazingly scenic area includes a natural lagoon that creates an amazing spot for surfing and other water sports, plus some fantastic bird watching.

    Surfers Point is southward facing, creating wraparound, west curling waves that roll along the shore. When the wind is just right, windsurfers and kiteboarders provide a great show.

    Surfers Point is the epitome of a dog-lover’s beach. Keep your furry friend leashed, and the two of you can spend some time together, taking in some fantastic coastline views. Although a pet owner needs no additional proof, research suggests these real benefits of owning a pet

    • Pets offer support and comfort unconditionally, the basis of pet therapy.
    • They decrease blood pressure.
    • They’ve been shown to decrease cortisol levels, the stress hormone, in their owners.
    • They help keep pet owners active

    Ojai-Ventura Paved Bike Path

    The Ojai-Ventura Paved Bike/Walk/Pet/Horse Path runs about 15 miles from Ventura to Ojai. Although some parts are on the steep side, the route is entirely paved and typically easy to traverse. This Ventura County scenic trail, which is significantly easier to negotiate on your way to Ventura, offers you jaw-droppingly views of nature and time to step away from life’s stresses.

    Whether your break is to take a ride or simply walk the Ventura to Ojai Trail, exercise of any kind is a great way to reset your nervous system, which leads to more peace. According to the NIH, exercise improves mental health by reducing depression levels and anxiety while improving mood and cognitive functioning. Ultimately, exercising can enhance one’s self-esteem, often shifting one’s view of the world remarkably.

    Regular exercise can help improve your endurance, energy, mental alertness, cholesterol levels, and weight and even improve disrupted sleep patterns.

    Oxnard City Scavenger Hunt

    Participate in an app-based scavenger hunt in Oxnard in which you explore city streets on one’s smartphone. It takes about 2 hours to finish, but there is available help with the app’s remote guide.

    Be a kid again. There’s nothing like it.

    Taking a mental health break is an ideal way to take care of yourself, so you can care for others in your life. It is truly a win-win solution to many of life’s challenges.

     Sources – About Mental Health – California’s Rehab and Addiction Resource & Information Guide – Inability to Cope with Stress Linked to Increased Risk for Diabetes – Breaks During the Workday – The Old Mission Basilica San Buenaventura – City of Ventura – Science Shows How a Trip to the Beach Changes Your Brain – Seasonal Affective Disorder – Brain Wave and Meditation – how the parasympathetic Nervous System Can Lower Stress – Serra Cross Park – Engagement with Natural Beauty Moderates the Positive Relation Between Connectedness with Nature and Psychological Well-being. – Surfer Point at Seaside Park – The Power of Pets Pet Therapy – Animals as Healers – Stress Management – Ojai-Ventura Bike Path – Exercise for Mental Health – Exercise for Mental Health – A Royal Scavenger Hunt – Playing as Adults is Beneficial for Our Mental Health and Well-Being



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