We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Lydia Millen, a luminary in the world of content creation whose journey has gracefully evolved over time. Originating from the worlds of beauty and fashion, Lydia has seamlessly transitioned into a leading lifestyle content creator, guiding her audience on a transformative journey towards holistic well-being and mindful living (still with doses of fashion and beauty thrown in for good measure!). 

In our conversation, Lydia shares intimate insights into how her profound connections with nature serve as a wellspring of inspiration for her creativity and content creation process. From enchanting foraging expeditions to tranquil sunrise strolls in her garden, she illuminates the profound impact of these simple yet soul-nourishing experiences. Her latest literary endeavour, “Evergreen,” stands as a testament to this harmonious relationship—an embodiment of nature’s timeless wisdom and seasonal shifts captured within the pages of her book. 

Beyond her profound connection with nature, Lydia navigates the digital landscape with a mindful equilibrium—a journey that she openly acknowledges has required time and inner work to refine. Prioritising offline activities for mental rejuvenation, she leads by example, fostering a life brimming with peace and purpose through honest self-reflection and intentional lifestyle changes. Lydia’s journey serves as an inspiring beacon, empowering others to embrace authenticity and cultivate lives filled with joy and meaning.

How does spending time in nature contribute to your mental well-being, and do you have any favourite outdoor activities that help you recharge?

Being in nature is one of the most grounding aspects that I strive to incorporate into my daily life wherever and whenever possible. It provides me with a real sense of perspective amidst the general hustle and bustle of life, including those moments or elements that feel particularly overwhelming. Witnessing nature’s ability to adapt to and endure freak storms, harsh winters, and dry summers inspires me to adapt to unexpected aspects of life and better endure personal storms. To be truthful, while I have explored creative ways to spend more time outdoors such as foraging courses, horse riding, and caring for my two sausage dogs, as well as establishing an optimistic kitchen garden with six raised beds and a Victorian greenhouse in an unused part of my garden, sometimes, something as simple as a morning walk around my garden at sunrise or a brisk walk to the local pub instead of driving is enough to ground myself again in a world that can sometimes feel like it’s spinning out of control.

Do you find that connecting with nature influences your creativity and content creation process, and if so, how?

I’d go as far as to say that when it comes to creativity and content creation, nature is my greatest inspiration, and I am genuinely guided by it through every aspect of the creative process. Whether it’s crafting content for my social media channels, decorating my home for the upcoming season, or even choosing my attire, nature influences my decisions. So much so that in 2023, I made the decision to encapsulate everything I do, everything I’ve learned, and the joy of embracing nature in this manner into my first book, “Evergreen.”

How do you balance your digital presence as a content creator with the need for unplugged time for mental rejuvenation?

In the early days, I found this very confusing, so I try to be understanding of what I didn’t know back then. Looking back, it wasn’t clear when my hobby evolved into my career, nor was it evident when the line between my career and personal life as a content creator became blurred. However, during COVID, I became determined to find a way to harmonize my career with my life. This led to many honest discussions with myself about which aspects of my career were causing the most disruption, and fortunately, I was in a position to change those elements. Now, I believe I don’t need to unplug from it all as a dedicated practice. Instead, I have filled my life with more offline activities, leading me to a very peaceful place. It’s important to note, though, that while this may sound simple, it has taken a lot of time and self-work to reach this point.

Your beautiful book Evergreen celebrates nature in all its seasonal glory… What do you want people to take away from reading it?

Firstly, I hope it serves the reader with many reasons, if they haven’t found them just yet, to reconnect with nature.

Secondly, I want it to serve as reassurance that, no matter what season of life you are in—whether it’s a glorious summer or a bleak winter—the lessons found in the natural world can guide, reassure, and even galvanize you into action if you pay attention to them. The fallen trees after the recent freak storms can often evoke strong emotions, as they do for me. However, the way nature weaves a new tapestry of life in their place serves as a reminder that just because something is lost—whether it’s a relationship, a loved one, or even a job—something beautiful will always fill the space left behind, albeit in a different form.

What role do fitness and movement play in your overall wellness routine?

Health and fitness have always been significant aspects of my life. It’s fascinating how our relationship with them evolves as we age. In the early days, the focus was largely aesthetic, but now, at 36, it’s more about how I feel mentally and physically. I’ve found that I perform best when I exercise in the morning, so that’s become my routine. I tend to engage in two personal training sessions per week, with one always scheduled for Monday to set a positive tone for the week. The mental boost I gain from this routine is invaluable.

Additionally, I vary my workouts with activities like pilates classes, 30 minutes of swimming, and in the summer, I enjoy fair-weather running. I also incorporate dog walks and gardening into my routine, which provides a balanced mix of intense workouts and gentler forms of exercise.

Moreover, I find solace in Yoga, especially Yin, for its physical release. Both my husband and I enjoy following YouTube classes at home, which we find hugely beneficial.

Do you have any specific wellness practices that have significantly impacted your well-being?

About a year ago, I began tracking my menstrual cycle using Natural Cycles and my Oura ring. I started noticing some very strange patterns, which led me to track those symptoms more closely this year. From there, I was diagnosed with PMDD in January. For those who don’t know, while it’s very under-researched at the moment, PMDD is an extreme sensitivity to hormonal changes in the body. I have to say, it was a relief to finally understand many of the things I had been experiencing. I delved into researching PMDD and what I could do to help alleviate at least some of the symptoms. I noticed that in many cases (though not all), there was a clear link between gut health, nutrition, and lifestyle.

This diagnosis gave me the opportunity to take a long, hard look at parts of my life and make serious changes. I did my best to remove as much ultra-processed food as possible and incorporated more whole and organic produce into my diet. I started prioritizing my sleep and introduced new supplements to support my gut health. You know, all those cliché things we all know but haven’t been doing seriously enough? Well, I did them, and it worked wonders. I’m almost four months into these changes, and I feel like a different person.

What has been your approach to designing your beautiful home? Where do you draw inspiration from?

Some context about our home is necessary here. Essentially, it’s the old gardener’s house for the stately home next door and is situated in a small hamlet between two villages in a conservation area in the Northamptonshire countryside. The old cottage was demolished, and in its place, they built a three-storey cottage, which is almost fully adorned with floor-to-ceiling glass at the exterior, offering views over a small woodland. Therefore, the landscape surrounding the house is integral to its identity. My first mission was to bring as much of the natural beauty of our surroundings indoors. I set about replacing many of the finishes; synthetic carpets were replaced with beautiful jute runners and wool carpets, porcelain tiles were swapped for tumbled and etched limestone, and I endeavoured to introduce as much raw wood and greenery as possible to truly foster a connection with the natural landscape.

If you could imagine your perfect evening routine, what would it look like?

I’d say finishing work on time at 5pm and taking a stroll around the garden. Then, getting straight into my “comfies,” enjoying a good hearty dinner followed by a glass or two of wine in the living room with the fire roaring. Curling up on the sofa with Lumi, our cat, and our two sausage dogs, Porter and Berkeley, while my husband watches something on TV. I’ll likely be reading a magazine or a book next to him. 

How do you approach goal-setting both in business and personal development?

I have a very pragmatic approach to life and business, aiming for peace in both aspects. If what I’ve strived for is a calm and peaceful life, you can imagine how incredible it feels when anything beyond that materializes. Speaking from personal experience, it’s easy to get lost in the pursuit of more. I’m determined to enjoy a happy life as much as possible, for as long as possible, so finding contentment in the everyday is integral to that goal.

Finally, if you could choose to spend a day with your past or future self, which would you choose and what would you say to that Lydia?

I’d take past Lydia for a long walk in the fields around her home, pointing out all the natural beauty that she’s been missing out on for so long. Then, I’d tell her that she would find happiness far greater than she ever imagined, and after all that searching, it lived within her all along.

Evergreen is out now.