Looking for something to do this winter that could take away the winter blues? Give birding a try. Here are five ideas to help you incorporate bird-watching into your winter routine:

  1. Look out the window. A 2017 study from the University of Exeter shows that people who live in neighborhoods with more birds, trees, and shrubs are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and stress. If you need a lift, something as simple as watching the birds gather at the feeder can do the trick.
  2. Spend time on a nature trail. Mood elevation can be as simple as stepping outside and looking for birds. Research cited by Harvard Health Publishing found that subjects who spent 90 minutes on a nature walk had less activity in a brain region associated with rumination, compared to those who walked in urban locations. Time spent in quiet, natural areas also lowers blood pressure and cortisol levels.
  3. Join a birding walk. Bird watching can be as solo or social as you want it to be. If you’re more people-inclined, joining an organized bird walk can be the ticket. Not only would you be learning, but you join like-minded people in a friendly setting. Hop online and search for an Audubon chapter or bird society in your city or region, and mark your calendar for the next bird outing. (Look for the Christmas Bird Count; this North American bird census is held nationwide and presents an excellent opportunity to get started.)
  4. Stop and listen: Whenever you spend time outside, whether shoveling snow, letting the dog out, or crossing the parking lot, focus your mind on picking up any bird sounds. This mindful, intentional action can also activate a happier state of mind while helping you become attuned to the winter birds that surround you.
  5. Gamify your outings. We like puzzles and games for the satisfaction of solving and discovery. It’s that magical moment when your brain rewards you with a hit of serotonin. So work that feel-good element into your new hobby and make birding into a game. Download eBird to your smartphone and start logging your findings, and see if you can find more birds than the week before. Your bird sightings will help scientists to boot!

To kick off your quest for a feel-good winter, get your bird feeder ready to go with a high-quality mix that uses fresh ingredients and no fillers. The sunflower seeds and nuts found in Lyric Supreme Mix appeal to a wide variety of beloved winter birds, including chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, finches, and woodpeckers.