It’s like clockwork—winter rolls around and the days get shorter and colder. For about 5% of adults in the U.S., these seasonal changes could be more serious, causing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Even though the temperatures drop, here are 7 ways that nature can help beat the Winter Blues.

1. Bundle up for a walk

A family goes for a winter walk

Those brisk mornings and chilly afternoons don’t have to be spent inside. While it may be a little warmer in the comfort of your own home, grab that jacket and scarf because a winter walk is a great way to stay active when there is snow on the ground. While you’re taking a stroll at your favorite park or trail, look for those moments of natural beauty. That can be anything from frost on the grass or even the first signs of spring. You’ll be surprised by what seems fresh and new.

2. Listen for bird calls

American Robin; Photo: Macaulay Library

Not all birds fly south for the winter.  There are plenty that stick around during these winter months and sing their songs. A lot of people find it soothing to take a minute to stop and listen. Try to listen for some while on your walk. Common birds that stay in place when it’s cold are robins, cardinals, blue jays, and even a type of hummingbird—the Anna’s Hummingbird. Teach yourself to identify common bird calls.

3. Tend your winter garden

Even when it’s cold, the garden needs love.

Research shows that gardening can help boost your mood, help lose weight, and lengthen your life. Planting herbs and vegetables could help with your cooking and give you immune-boosting nutrients when implemented in your diet. It’s a good way to brighten up your surroundings when spending more time at home during the cold season, whether that’s planting indoors or outdoors.

4. Bring nature inside

Brighten up the inside with the outside.

If you can’t get outdoors as much as you’d like, you can bring the benefits of nature inside your home. Get comfy, sit by the window, and watch the seasons change. Finding a spot in your home that gets a lot of natural light could be a great area to grow plants or herbs on the windowsill and help you connect with nature.

5. Watch the sunrise

Sunrise over walking bridge in snowy Minnesota; Photo: Yahoo Finance

Winter makes for great clear, crisp days. The sun also sets early in the winter. One way to get the last bit of sunshine during the snowy months is to take some time and watch the sunset. Research shows that watching a sunset can improve your mood and increase positive emotions.

6. Look up at the stars

Milky Way and Northern Lights over Grand Marais, Minn.; Photo: MPR News

Before we know it, those chilly afternoons turn into cold nights much quicker as the winter pushes forward. You don’t have to spend hours outside in the cold. Once the sun sets, try taking a look at the stars the next time you’re outside, on your doorstep, or even on your back porch.  You don’t have to be in the middle of nowhere to see the stars either. Anywhere outside and away from streetlights will give you the best views.

7. Track the moon phases

Waxing Crescent to Waning Crescent

Just like the stars—the moon seems to pop during the winter. Keeping track of its phases could be a great way to connect with nature while fighting the winter blues. While you’re out at night, take a look up at the moon and record its phase. Writing it down or drawing it are great ways to keep track. Take some time to learn each phase of the lunar cycle.