Hoping to chase away the winter blues or holiday stress? Research shows that being outdoors in natural surroundings triggers a variety of health benefits. At the Chicago Botanic Garden, you can find peace, joy and inspiration in the simple sight of a sunny yellow pine warbler on a fir tree or a long-eared owl puffing up for warmth on a chilly morning.

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Here are five quick-and-easy ways to pamper yourself at the Chicago Botanic Garden and leave the holiday stress behind:

1. Treat yourself to weekend brunch at the Garden View Café and enjoy a fresh orange juice mimosa. Save time for a walk along the Lakeside Gardens. Stress? What stress?

2. Awaken your senses with a color fix. Even in the darkest days of winter, dwarf conifers hold fast to colors including blues and silvers and to thick, fragrant branches.

3. When you’re in search of solitude — not to mention a place to relax in Chicago and beyond — take a walk to Spider Island, where you’ll cross a black locust boardwalk and follow a path that leads to a secluded seating area with a magnificent view across the Garden’s lakes. Take a notebook and write a haiku, or take a photograph — then tweet it (’tis the season of sharing, after all) @chicagobotanic.

4. Sometimes just a glimpse of natural beauty is enough to steady the pulse. If you turn left at the top of the Dwarf Conifer Garden and head up the path, the bench at the crest has a stunning view of the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden. It’s the perfect place to leave all of Chicago behind.

5. Sign up for a wellness class before it’s too late. Mark your calendar now for the winter meditation walk on Jan. 23, 2016, and have something to look forward to in the new year.

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