Now that we’ve had the shortest day of the year, you know what that means – lighter evenings, longer days, more sunshine and spring is on its way.

Here’s our top 10 list of ways to feel good this January and beat the winter blues.

1 - Plan a holiday

It’s a new year for more than just the calendar, it's also a new year for your holiday allowance! So start planning your next short break or holiday to Dorset and give yourself something to look forward to.

Dream of beautiful beaches, miles and miles of green rolling hills and the prettiest picture-postcard villages you've ever seen.

What are you waiting for?

Admiring the view out to sea in Dorset

2 - Learn something new

Now is the time to make a new year’s resolution to learn a new craft. Choose something you’ve never done or perhaps return to a hobby you used to do, but now don’t seem to have the time for.

With January’s cold crisp days, you’ve got the perfect excuse to stay inside and concentrate on honing your skills. How about stone carving, decopatch or needle felting?

learning a new skill in Dorset

3 - Get active

If you’re one of the many people who have over indulged over Christmas and can’t look at another chocolate, you might be feeling the need to do something about it.

So if you’re feeling a little sluggish, the best way to boost your energy levels is get up and get active. We’re not talking about running a marathon, but how about a walk around your local park, a swim at your local leisure centre or if you’re feeling really keen you could join the gym or take up a new exercise class?

Getting fit at a local leisure centre in Dorset

4 - Sales shopping

Perhaps you got some vouchers or cash for Christmas and it’s burning a hole in your pocket. Well now is a great time to get shopping and grab yourself a bargain.

Dorset has a great selection of shopping experiences, from indoor shopping centres and traditional high streets to small town shopping and retail parks.

And once you’ve shopped til you drop, take a break and grab something to eat at one of our fantastic cafes or coffee shops.

Taking advantage of the wide choice of shopping in Dorset

5 - Be at one with nature

If you’re a keen bird watcher, then winter is an amazing time to visit Dorset.

More than 20,000 over wintering birds flock to Poole Harbour, with species including avocets, spoonbills and black-tailed godwit. The RSPB Nature Reserve at Arne or Upton Country Park are great places to watch them from and get something hot to eat or drink from their cafes. Or maybe you'd rather be on the water? Then hop aboard a 2 hour cruise around Poole Harbour for the opportunity to see one of the best bird spectacles in the UK and then get 2 hours ashore on Brownsea Island. There will be experts on hand to answer your wildlife queries in the bird hides and you may also catch sight of one of Brownsea's rare red squirrels.

Enclosed by the famous Chesil Beach, The Fleet Lagoon attracts thousands of wintering and migratory waterfowl, such as dark-bellied brent geese, common teal and tufted duck.

Keen bird watchers enjoy the fantastic display of different species in Dorset

© Peter Moore

6 - The first signs of spring

Towards the end of the month and into February, the famous snowdrops at Kingston Lacy will be starting to appear.

Walk through the gardens at this time of year and you will find carpets of brilliant white. The snowdrop walk stretches through the 40-acre garden for one and a half miles. The Victorian fernery is a good place to start before meandering down the Lime Avenue and on to Lady’s Walk, where Henrietta Bankes first planted snowdrops in the early 1900s.

Find beautiful snowdrops throughout Dorset as the first signs of Spring begin to show

© National Trust

7 - Enjoy some winter sun

Yes winter can be rainy, but there are also a good number of days where the sky is blue, the air is fresh and the wind calm. So make the most of it and get out for a walk or bike ride. And for after, there are lots of pubs with roaring log fires so that you can warm your toes and fill your belly with a delicious hot lunch.

Escape the cold and enjoy fresh air, winter sun and blue skies in Dorset

8 - Sign up to a good cause

There’s nothing like giving to a good cause to warm your heart. But it doesn’t have to be money, it could also be your time.

The next time you visit the beach, how about doing a 2 minute beach clean? It’s exactly what it says - spend just 2 minutes of your time collecting rubbish on your section of the beach. Lots of beaches now have litter pickers and rubbish bags to help you do this. You’ll be helping to keep Dorset tidier but also stopping the litter washing into the sea and potentially harming sealife.

Or perhaps you’d like to volunteer to help at your local park or nature reserve?  As well as enjoying being outdoors, you might also benefit from getting fitter and making new friends.

Beach cleans help maintain Dorset's stunning beaches

© Dorset Coast Forum

9 - Look to the stars

Join the Wessex Astronomical Society at Durlston Country Park’s observatory to view the night sky and contemplate whether we’re really alone in the universe!

As long as the sky is clear, you’ll be able to see star clusters, galaxies, the Orion Nebula, winter constellations and a close-up of The Moon. So wrap up warm, bring along a flask of hot chocolate and prepare to be amazed.

Spend an evening star gazing and explore the wonders of the universe from Dorset

10 - If all else fails, stay inside

Ok, we admit it. It’s going to rain at some point. But that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. We’ve got loads of indoor activities and attractions to keep everyone entertained.

Go see a film at the cinema, visit a museum and learn something new, wander around a stately home and pretend you’ve won the lottery, go ten-pin bowling, visit the animals and wildlife at Weymouth Sea Life, discover your own fossil at The Dinosaur Museum, or have a fluming good time at Splashdown Waterpark.

The list goes on and on…

Indoor fun at the Dinosaur Museum in Dorchester, Dorset

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