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Stave off cabin fever!

Simple solutions to help you ward off the winter blues

Created date

January 24th, 2012

Does your social life suffer through the winter? Has your waist line increased as the temperatures have gone down? Is your sunny disposition clouded from the lack of day light? Rest assured; you re not alone. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that more than 36 million Americans suffer depressive symptoms brought on by the winter months. In fact, scientists have come up with a clinical name to describe the most severe form of seasonal depression: seasonal affective disorder or SAD for short. Although the exact cause of the condition continues to be debated, studies suggest the seasonal slump experienced by so many may be linked to the change in exposure to daylight which helps regulate our mood, sleep patterns, and even hormones. According to SAD expert Dr. Norman Rosenthal, a Maryland-based psychiatrist and author of the book Winter Blues, aside from daily artificial light therapy, managing stress, exercising, having a positive attitude, keeping up with your favorite pastimes, and spending time with friends and family can all help ward off the wintertime blues.

Under one roof

For some, following Rosenthal s suggestions is a way of life. For example, retirees living at Oak Crest, an Erickson Living community in Parkville, Md., enjoy countless opportunities to be active and engaged regardless of the weather thanks to an ingenious everything-under-one-roof design. All of our apartment homes are within walking distance of what we call Main Street, says Lou Maranto, director of sales at Oak Crest. There you ll find all of the conveniences of a small town. You can do your banking, shopping, get a haircut, take a college class, meet friends for a drink or a bite to eat, grab a book from the library everything you would normally do without hopping in and out of your car or worrying about the winter weather. Dr. Jeffrey Landsman, senior and regional medical director for Erickson Living says there are many aspects of the Erickson Living lifestyle that help combat the winter blues, but two in particular stand out. Having the ability to stay active and socially engaged regardless of the weather is a huge advantage to living at Oak Crest, says Landsman. Even when it s snowing out, our community members are able to stick to their regular fitness routine, whether that s walking laps indoors through the community, exercising in the fitness center, or attending an on-site aerobics class.

Weather the weather together

Throughout the winter season, 170 resident-run groups at Oak Crest continue to plan events and meetings regardless of the weather. When the weatherman calls for snow, I can t wait to come to work because I know it will be business as usual at Oak Crest, says Maranto. People will go about their normal routines whether it s attending a college course being taught in one of the on-site classrooms, a book club meeting fireside in one of our clubhouse living rooms, or folks swimming in the pool as the snow piles up outside. Charlene and Scott Phillips moved to Oak Crest in 2010 from Bel Air. The active couple says, unlike living in their house, it s virtually impossible not to have some sort of interaction with other people on a daily basis living at Oak Crest. The way the community is set up encourages you to get out even if it s to go get your mail or a bite to eat, says Charlene. Plus, it s so easy to get involved and volunteer here whether it s helping to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the food bank or contributing casseroles for Our Daily Bread or working with elementary school kids through the pen pal or buddy reading program, she says. Part of what allows Oak Crest community members the freedom to stay busy is the maintenance-free lifestyle they enjoy. All apartment home maintenance and repairs are included in the monthly service package so residents have no unexpected costs throughout the year. From snow removal to checking heating units to appliance repair or replacement, the highly skilled maintenance staff at Oak Crest responds quickly seven days a week. As a result, rather than spending hours shoveling heavy snow, community members spend their time with friends, traveling, or relaxing doing whatever they love most. This is the friendliest place I have ever been, says Charlene. That in itself helps you keep your spirits up; there are no two ways about it.