The RSPB’s top 10 winter wellness tips

Feeling a little out of sorts or lacking in motivation? Try some of these tried and tested mood-boosters to help you get back on track.

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We’ve all been there. Perhaps your New Year’s resolutions aren’t going as well as you’d hoped, or maybe the dark winter mornings are getting you down. For all sorts of reasons, the beginning of the year can be tricky for lots of people. To counter this, we’ve pulled together our top ten winter wellness suggestions to blow away the blues and see you through to spring.

Go outdoors for some Vitamin N

Spending time in nature is good for our health and wellbeing, making it well worth heading outdoors to top up on Vitamin N – Nature! Although research is ongoing into why nature is so beneficial, many think that it is related to how our senses connect us to the environment. The scents, sights, feel and sounds of nature can stimulate our senses, helping to put our minds at rest and our bodies at ease. There’s also plenty of research that links access to green spaces with a lower risk of mental health problems, improved mood and increased life satisfaction. Why not head to your local park or nearest nature reserve and see what nature can do for you.

Explore an RSPB nature reserve

Looking through a viewing area at RSPB Arne nature reserve.

Listen to birdsong

Switching off and taking time to be present in nature by listening to birdsong can be very therapeutic. Open a window or go outside and listen for a Robin singing its heart out. They are one of the birds that you are most likely to hear singing at this time of year, their wistful melodies ringing out on a cold, crisp day. Another bird to listen for is the Mistle Thrush. Birds sing to mark their territories and to attract a mate, and their singing is a neat reminder that spring is on its way and with it the promise of nesting, chicks and renewal.

Listen to the cheery whistle of the Robin here

Listen to the fluty song of the Mistle Thrush here

A Robin perched upon a moss covered branch.

Join an RSPB local group

Doing something that inspires you and meeting new people can be very rewarding. RSPB local groups are run by volunteers and provide a great way to get to know like-minded people, see more wildlife and share your enthusiasm for nature. Many local groups run events to help you get to know your local wildlife, ranging from beginner birding walksto organised coach trips to nature reserves. There are more than 130 volunteer-led RSPB groups across the UK and you don’t have to be an RSPB member to join.

Find a group near you

Local Group members enjoying a wildlife walk

Try nature photography

Trying your hand at something new can provide a boost. When we do something we enjoy, we can often find ourselves completely focused on that activity. Being ‘in the zone’ or ‘in a flow state’ means we are present in the moment, and less likely to be worrying about the past or future problems. Nature photography can be very engaging and can even help you develop a deeper appreciation for nature. You could start with plants or flowers, taking time to capture the beautiful detailing on a Snowdrop. Or try your hand a photographing garden birds: simply fill up your bird feeder, then watch and wait with your camera at the ready.

RSPB Book: How to Photograph Garden Birds

A cluster of Snowdrops on a bright winter morning.

Give back by volunteering

Volunteering not only does good, but it also makes us feel good. Connecting with others or doing something to help a cause that we care about are instant mood boosters, and there are many ways to get involved with the RSPB as a volunteer. RSPB volunteers carry out a huge range of work, from practical conservation and helping on our nature reserves, to running social media accounts and talking to the public about birds. Whether you already know a lot about nature or nothing at all, there is a role for you and we’d love you to get involved.

Find a volunteering opportunity

Two visitors being served at RSPB St Aidan's cafe

Start a nature journal

Reflecting on the things that make us happy and spending time in quiet contemplation can make us feel calmer and more relaxed. Starting a nature diary or journal can help us make time to do this. A nature journal can include whatever you want and be as imaginative as you make it. You could describe what you saw, include poetry, add drawings, paintings or photographs. It could be a traditional journal, diary or notebook, or you could decide to keep your diary on social media, perhaps by sharing a nature photo of the day or week. The key thing is to do what you enjoy and to not  be discouraged if your daily dairy turns into a weekly or even monthly entry. Just do what’s right for you!

Share your nature stories

A young woman writing in a notepad.

Watch for signs of spring

It can be easy to get stuck in a rut, thinking that winter will just keep dragging on and that every day is going to be cold and grey. But nature is constantly changing. Noticing the changes can help connect us with seasons, making us feel closer to the world around us. Take a look at our Springo Bingo activity for some inspiration on what to look out for. Phenology is the study of seasonal events in nature, especially in relation to the impact climate has on timings. You can help scientists monitor the effects of climate change on wildlife by recoding your sightings on the Woodland Trust’s Nature’s Calendar.

Play Springo Bingo

A warbler perched on reeds with

Find an outdoor exercise class

Just being outdoors can boost our mood, but what if you upped it a level by enjoying some exercise too! However much we may not like the idea of exercise, the fact is that it is almost always guaranteed to make you feel better. One factor behind this is that aerobic exercise produces endorphins or happy hormones that make us feel good. Many fitness experts recognise the value of exercising outdoors and there’s likely something to suit you, whether it's beach yoga or a fitness bootcamp. Or simply head to your local RSPB nature reserve and enjoy an equally invigorating winter walk.  

Activities on RSPB nature reserves

A run through woodland on a winter's day

Spend time in your garden or plan a window box

Whatever the size of your outdoor space, be it a balcony or courtyard, garden or window box, time spent gardening or improving your outdoor space can be very rewarding. As well as the benefits of being outdoors, there is something very special about nurturing nature, whether that’s flowers or plants or by helping your local wildlife. Think about putting up or refilling bird feeders – even a window feeder can make a difference to the local birdlife. Think about what flowers, vegetables or herbs you might like to grow this year. Did you know that we have a whole hub dedicated to wildlife gardening? Check out Nature on Your Doorstep and see what you could do.

Discover Nature on Your Doorstep

Wrapped up warm and with binoculars in hand, a woman is ready to watch her garden birds.

Consider a nature prescription

Since 2017, the RSPB has been working with healthcare professionals to trial RSPB Nature Prescriptions, a calendar of self-led activities to help build connections with nature with the aim of improving mental and physical wellbeing.

Last year we launched the first ever RSPB Nature Prescriptions project in England.

RSPB Nature Prescriptions are now available from healthcare professionals in certain areas of Scotland and England and continue to expand to new places, so talk to your local GP or other health support service about whether its something you can access.

Whether you can access RSPB Nature Prescriptions at the moment or not, we know getting outdoors and connecting with nature is good for us, so this winter why not head into nature to watch a robin, listen to the sounds of a stream or savour a winter sunset.

Find out about nature prescriptions

A Starling murmuration against a sunset sky on a winter's dusk.
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