Ways to reduce stress by enjoying nature – Connect with the outdoors

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The winter months can be difficult for many of us, now days are getting lighter we can enjoy being outside more easily.

There are steps you can take to boost your mood and combat stress by getting outside and finding ways to connect with nature:

Go for a winter walk

At this time of year, a wintery walk can be the best way to get some exercise and enjoy the changing seasons. Even if your walk doesn’t take you through forests or alongside rivers, you can still find ways to enjoy nature.

Look out for examples of natural beauty and keep an eye open for snowdrops – one of the first signs of spring.

If you’re walking with children, try going on a nature scavenger hunt – write a simple list of “things to find” and offer a prize to the family member who finds everything first, or do it as a team.

Take some winter nature photos

Recording our observations with a camera causes us to look at things in a different way and helps us to focus our time in nature. Winter brings a different kind of natural beauty, so get your camera out and take some photos.

Examples might be a frosty morning, fresh snow, pine cones, a leafless tree, snowflakes, something frozen, the moon, a vivid sunset or sunrise, berries or interesting leaves.

Go on a night walk
During the winter, the nights are long and dark, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors – it can be exciting to explore outside at night-time. Just remember to stay safe, be visible and take a torch.

If you’re going out at the end of the day, look out for starling ‘murmurations’ where hundreds of birds swoop through the sky together before settling down to roost for the night. You could also listen out for nocturnal wildlife like owls and foxes.

Stargazing
Despite chilly nights, clear winter skies can be the perfect time to look up into the night sky and see stars. A place away from streetlights will give you the best views.

Begin to get to know the winter night sky by locating a few key stars. Download a free app like Star Walk (iOS) or Sky Map (Android) to help you spot some constellations.

Focus on birds
Listening to birdsong can be soothing – and in winter, there are plenty of birds to listen out for either in your garden or when out walking. Concentrate on listening to the pattern in their song – you could also learn to identify some common birds from their calls.

You can attract birds to your garden with a simple bird feeder. It’s a great fun activity to try with the children.

Look after your garden
Gardening has many psychological benefits – being surrounded by plants can improve mood, reduce stress, anxiety and encourage healthy eating by growing herbs and vegetables.

With many of us spending more time at home, gardening is a chance to brighten up your surroundings, both indoor and outdoor.

Have a winter picnic
With proper planning and an adventurous spirit, a winter picnic can be fun. Just make sure you wrap up well, take something to sit on, some healthy picnic food, maybe a blanket or two, and a flask for hot drinks or soup.

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