By Olivia Grist and Emily Price
“I think our whole life is in front of a screen right now and getting out for a walk gives you a rest from that.”
Before COVID-19 restrictions, 24 year old Ben Joseph was a busy actor. With so much time now on his hands, he has spent lockdown discovering the many different routes and parks in Cardiff.
With modest changes to COVID restrictions announced in Wales, two people from Cardiff have spoken about their experience of life in a locked down city.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said last week there is ‘headroom’ for changes and four people from two separate households can now meet outside for exercise.
Ben and Roma Ravaliya both live in Cardiff and during the pandemic their experiences of a stroll in their neighbourhood couldn’t be more different than one another.
Ben said: “I’m lucky because I have so many wonderful options. There’s a lovely little place called Thompson’s Park near Llanover Hall and Victoria Park is great if you have a sweet tooth and stop at Pettigrew’s Bakery.
“In the Summer, I like to walk up to Pontcanna Fields and follow it all the way through to Llandaff Fields, Bute Park and Sophia Gardens.”
Ben hopes that taking a ramble will be a hobby he will continue in a post-pandemic world.
He said: “Getting outside has definitely been essential to my positive well being.”
But taking advantage of Cardiff’s stunning parks and trails isn’t something all locals have been able to enjoy.
Roma Ravaliya is an international student from India who lives alone in Cardiff. She’s spent her first year in Wales’s capitol in and out of lockdowns and feels she has never had a chance to explore her new neighbourhood properly.
The 24-year-old physiotherapy student from Cardiff University said: “I have no family here and I haven’t been able to socialise with people which means I don’t have many friends either.
Roma fears the time she has spent isolating herself will have an impact on her mental health.
“I’ve heard of Bute Park which does sound nice. Sitting in a confined room most of the time is depressing but I don’t know the area well enough to find a nice place to walk.”
Mind, a mental health charity that supports people Wales, says that spending time outdoors benefits both your mental and physical wellbeing.
A statement posted on their website said: “Doing things like exercising outdoors can have lots of positive effects. Spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health problems like anxiety, and depression.
“Being outside in natural light can also be helpful if you have seasonal affective disorder (SAD) a type of depression that affects during particular seasons or times of year.
“People have told us that getting into nature has helped them with many other types of mental health problems.”
If you’re struggling with your mental health or would like to know more about Mind, you can visit their website, www.mind.org.uk