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Tips for kicking the winter blues

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN – RECORDER — While the winter blues may represent a normal reaction to the season, for some the depressive feelings may linger, signaling a larger issue.

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By MSR News Online

While the winter blues may represent a normal reaction to the season, for some the depressive feelings may linger, signaling a larger issue. In addition, research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that people with lower incomes, who often encounter additional obstacles and greater stresses in their daily lives, have higher rates of depression than those with higher incomes. That can make this time of year even more difficult for those facing economic hardship.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Major Depressive Disorder with a Seasonal Pattern is characterized by “recurrent episodes of depression in late fall and winter, alternating with periods of normal mood the rest of the year.” Symptoms, according to NAMI, usually begin in the fall and subside in early spring.

“Trying to tell the difference between an occasional down day and what might be the signs of a mental illness can be challenging,” says Dr. Michael Golinkoff, a senior executive for behavioral health. “There is no easy test to tell if a person’s actions and thoughts might be typical behaviors or the result of a physical or mental illness.

“An early diagnosis can lead to faster treatment, which can help not just a person dealing with mental illness but also those close to them,” says Golinkoff.

Golinkoff notes that the following behaviors, while not a confirmation of seasonal depression, can be early warning signs that a person should talk to their doctor:

·       Excessive sleeping or inability to sleep.

·       Significant weight loss or gain.

·       Severe fatigue or loss of energy.

·       Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.

·       Difficulty thinking or concentrating, or indecisiveness.

According to Golinkoff, social engagement can be a great tool to combat the winter blues. Some activities that can help include:

Participating in public activities and programs

According to the American Psychological Association, loneliness is a risk factor for depression. Recreation centers, libraries, places of worship and local nonprofit organizations may offer free public events and activities during the winter months that give plenty of opportunities to connect with other people and keep you from staying isolated in your home.

Volunteering in your community

Engaging in philanthropic activities, particularly those that help repair or restore something important, can foster positive feelings of pride and self-efficacy.

Get moving  

Physical activity is not only good for you physically, but can also clear your mind, which can improve your energy level and decision-making ability. And, engaging in activities with others can also boost your emotional well-being. Check out local gyms, community centers, or online groups like Meetup to learn of ways you can be physically active while engaging with others.

Spending time with family or friends

Emotionally positive relationships can improve your mood. Rather than staying in, watching TV or eating alone, choose to connect with family and friends.

If clinical treatments are needed, NAMI suggests standard depressive disorder treatments such as medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. NAMI also suggests light therapy, an approach in which patients use a light box to provide artificial intensive light, with the hope of making their body believe that they are experiencing bright sunlight.

Information courtesy of AmeriHealth Caritas, part of the Independence Health Group in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield. For more information, visit amerihealthcaritas.com.

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

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Bay Area

Parks Pursues Land Acquisition Near China Camp

The County of Marin purchased 33 acres of the Buck’s Landing site in 2020 for $1.6 million – $1.1 million from Measure A and $500,000 from the California State Coastal Conservancy. The purchase was a culmination of almost a decade of advocacy by members of the Santa Venetia community, who sought more public access to Gallinas Creek. The site had been privately owned by the same family for about 70 years and used as a roadside bar, a brickyard, and a boat storage facility.

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Marin County Parks’ long-term goal for the Buck’s Landing property is to maintain public to access the bay, protect natural habitat, and provide recreational opportunities.
Marin County Parks’ long-term goal for the Buck’s Landing property is to maintain public to access the bay, protect natural habitat, and provide recreational opportunities.

Courtesy of Marin County

In a move to ensure more public access to San Francisco Bay wetlands and recreation, Marin County Parks is seeking approval to purchase 7.27 acres of the Buck’s Landing property on the edge of Gallinas Creek in unincorporated San Rafael. The County bought an adjacent property two years ago.

Parks personnel on July 12 will present a notice of intent to purchase before the Marin County Board of Supervisors for a parcel owned by three trusts of the Smith family. The purchase price is $1,850,000, with funds coming from Parks’ Measure A tax revenues that are earmarked for land acquisitions. Parks plans to present a draft purchase and sale agreement to the Board for consideration on August 9.

Buck’s Landing is at 665 North San Pedro Road, just over 2 miles northeast of the Marin County Civic Center. It is between the Santa Venetia neighborhood to the west and China Camp State Park to the east. Gallinas Creek flows into San Francisco Bay about a quarter mile from Buck’s Landing.

The County of Marin purchased 33 acres of the Buck’s Landing site in 2020 for $1.6 million – $1.1 million from Measure A and $500,000 from the California State Coastal Conservancy. The purchase was a culmination of almost a decade of advocacy by members of the Santa Venetia community, who sought more public access to Gallinas Creek. The site had been privately owned by the same family for about 70 years and used as a roadside bar, a brickyard, and a boat storage facility.

With the proposed purchase of an additional 7.27 acres, Parks’ long-term goal for the property is to maintain public access to the bay, protect natural habitat, and provide recreational opportunities, said Carl Somers, Parks’ Chief of Planning, Real Property, and Government Affairs. Community members have advocated for the acquisition of the site as a park for many years, leading staff to identify the area for protection in the 2008 Parks Strategic Plan.

“This is a long-term community priority that, if it comes to fruition, would secure public access to the bay,” Somers said. “It has existed there providing bay access for decades under private ownership. This acquisition would allow for much more flexibility in how the site can be managed as a park in the future.”

Measure A, a quarter-cent sales tax, was approved by countywide voters in 2012. An updated version of the measure was approved this June with nearly 75% support. By law, Measure A funds projects and programs that benefit parks, open space, and agricultural lands across Marin. In recent years, Parks has used Measure A acquisition funds to purchase Sky Ranch near Fairfax, the Corte Madera Baylands, and a portion of Bowman Canyon Ranch in western Novato.

On July 12, the Board will be asked to approve a resolution issuing a notice of intent to purchase the property and schedule a public hearing August 9 to collect feedback on and consider approving the proposal.

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Bay Area

New Design Phase Planned for Levee Project

The Flood Control and Water Conservation District has secured funding for the flood mitigation project from four sources, with the largest coming from a $3,235,180 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant. In May, the District submitted a project scope of work and budget change request to FEMA to reallocate $1,515,170 from the grant, transitioning the funding from construction to design work, environmental compliance, and public outreach activities. A response from FEMA is expected this month.

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The Flood Control and Water Conservation District has secured funding for the flood mitigation project from four sources, with the largest coming from a $3,235,180 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant.
The Flood Control and Water Conservation District has secured funding for the flood mitigation project from four sources, with the largest coming from a $3,235,180 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant.

Courtesy of Marin County

At its July 12 public session, the Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors will consider awarding a $617,549 contract for engineering design services to develop a design for the Santa Venetia Levee Upgrade Project along Gallinas Creek. The project was put on pause in March 2022 following a cost estimate that exceeded available funding.

“This flood protection project is crucial to addressing the near-term sea level rise needs of the Santa Venetia neighborhood residents,” said Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Rosemarie Gaglione. “We are committed to developing a strong, final design for the project that will be ready to move forward once construction funding is secured.”

The Flood Control and Water Conservation District has secured funding for the flood mitigation project from four sources, with the largest coming from a $3,235,180 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant. In May, the District submitted a project scope of work and budget change request to FEMA to reallocate $1,515,170 from the grant, transitioning the funding from construction to design work, environmental compliance, and public outreach activities. A response from FEMA is expected this month.

The engineering design firm will examine the project requirements and develop a final design that meets the flood protection needs of the community. To meet the deadline for the $1.5 million FEMA funding allocation, the engineering firm will need to finalize the design by the end of November 2022.

Once the final design is completed, District staff will work to secure additional funding and voluntary permanent easements before moving forward with construction. District staff plans to use the final design to apply for construction funding through FEMA, while also pursuing all other viable funding options that may be available for the project.

In terms of the FEMA grant process, the Santa Venetia levee project has a high benefit-to-cost ratio, meaning that the cost of creating the flood protection is low compared to the value of the properties that would be protected. The benefit-to-cost ratio is expected to make the project competitive in the next round of FEMA grant applications. District staff anticipates that the next opportunity to apply for competitive hazard mitigation funding will be in 2023.

Throughout this design and funding process, the District will continue to explore the acquisition of permanent easements from residents along Gallinas Creek on a voluntary basis. Those easements would support construction and all current and future maintenance of the levee.

In the meantime, the District will continue to prioritize the standard maintenance of the existing timber reinforced berm infrastructure along Gallinas Creek for the community. A public meeting is proposed for late July to provide a general update. For more information about the Santa Venetia Levee Upgrade Project and details on upcoming public meetings, visit SantaVenetiaLevee.org.

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Bay Area

Presidio Unveils New Facilities, New Park.

“We been doing this since 2018, taking groups to walks as a way to relieve stress and get out and see nature,” said Gilkerson, who is the Rafiki Coalition’s Community Outreach and Engagement manager. “The Presidio is a prime park and a good place to be. The additions to this place are nice for children to go and run around in.”

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Maxine Gilkerson is the outreach and engagement manager for Rahiki Coalition for Health and Wellness. Photo courtesy of Maxine Gilkerson.
Maxine Gilkerson is the outreach and engagement manager for Rahiki Coalition for Health and Wellness. Photo courtesy of Maxine Gilkerson.

By Lee Hubbard

Once or twice a week, Maxine Gilkerson leads a group of people from the Rafiki Coalition for Health and Wellness on walks in various parts of San Francisco.

The Rafiki Coalition is a health organization that tries to eliminate health inequities in San Francisco’s Black community through education, advocacy, and holistic health services.

On one of those walks, Gilkerson was leading a group through the Presidio, San Francisco’s only national park, next to the Golden Gate Bridge when she came across its newest outdoor path and park, the Outpost. The Outpost is on top of Presidio Tunnel Tops, a 2-acre outdoor destination full of creative play, benches, slides, BBQ pits and educational centers and science lab.

“We been doing this since 2018, taking groups to walks as a way to relieve stress and get out and see nature,” said Gilkerson, who is the Rafiki Coalition’s Community Outreach and Engagement manager. “The Presidio is a prime park and a good place to be. The additions to this place are nice for children to go and run around in.”

As the summer heats up people like Gilkerson and her group are looking for outside activities, recreation and fitness opportunities. The Presidio is a park that fits that bill. In fact, the Presidio is a must-see San Francisco destination that’s broken into four parts.

These four parts include the Golden Gate area, where the bridge is located; Crissy Field, which consists of a walking trail and a beach; Southern Wilds, which is the woody area in the southern part of the park; and the Main Post which has office buildings and outposts from the 1800s.

The Presidio Outpost is between the Main Post and Crissy Fields, The Presidio has rehabilitated the area and opened up a new facility for youth and adults, with the building of attractions and walking paths.

“This Outpost was designed by pediatricians and youth experts,” said Beatrice Kilgot, a public relations specialist with the Presidio.

In the park structure, there is a hydro-tunnel for crawling and hiding, which was constructed through a boulder land form, a fallen, 250-year old white oak, sculpted into three pieces that you can crawl into, and a bluff slide, made of the Presidio coastal bluffs.

“We work to facilitate activities that are environmentally based,” said Briana Canizales, an adventure guide leader with the Presidio. “We brought in natural materials in creating the outpost.”

A field station was also built on the outpost structure. It is an indoor facility, with a lab and an indoor exhibit, which deals with the environment and animals that exist in the park.

“The field station showcases some of the animals that have been found in the Presidio or the Golden Gate National recreational grounds,” continued Canizales. “It is a research center that study’s the Presidio and its habitat and it shows the historical growth of the park.”

The official Outpost grand opening will take place on July 17, 2022, and it will be open to the public.

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Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson
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