Lydia Millen’s 10 Tips for Connecting With Nature This Winter

By Ellie Smith

7 months ago

Lydia's new book, Evergreen, is about the healing effects of nature

As the cold, dark mornings creep in, staying indoors and hibernating becomes increasingly appealing. But we all know how important it is for our wellbeing to get outside and connect with nature. According to a survey from the Mental Health Foundation, 44 percent of people said being close to nature makes them feel less anxious – yet we’re spending less time outdoors than we were a few years ago. Lifestyle influencer Lydia Millen experienced the healing effects of nature first-hand, using it to rebuild her life after hitting what she describes as a ‘personal rock bottom’. This inspired her to write a new book, Evergreen, described as a ‘guide for anyone who is looking to unearth their inner strength and bring more joy and contentment into their everyday.’ Here, she shares her 10 tips for connecting with nature during the winter.

Lydia Millen’s 10 Tips for Connecting With Nature This Winter

Lydia Millen

Get outside every day

It sounds obvious, I know, but the more you spend time in nature, the more you’ll crave it and see how much good it brings to your life. With that in mind, next time you’re tempted to jump in the car or on public transport for a short distance, try pacing the pathways instead and pay attention to the benefits it brings you. With two dogs, I have to get outside each morning but it’s genuinely become one of my favourite parts of my day, so much so that I actively seek out ways to do more of it in my spare time. Don’t have pets or feel like you’ve got an ‘excuse’ to get outside? Join a local running club. Visit the allotments. Walk to a local pub with a friend! When there’s a will, there’s always a way. 

Pay attention to each of your senses in nature

We all have a vision in our minds when we picture nature in winter. If you don’t feel connected to that image, try stepping outside and looking beyond what you see. What can you feel? What can you hear? What can you smell? What can you taste? Personally, I’ve found that the more I focus on all of my senses in nature, the more I respect winter’s unique beauty and charm. 

Invest in appropriate weather attire

There’s a famous Billy Connelly saying that I quote in my debut book, Evergreen: ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing.’ And I couldn’t agree with it more. For that reason, invest in a good quality waterproof, thermals and walking boots when you hit the sales this January, instead of the latest ‘it’ item or trending fashion. The snow isn’t an inconvenience when you have thermals and good quality walking boots with grip. The rain is anything but miserable when you’re wearing waterproofs and Wellington boots and can wade through muddy puddles with ease! And the sub-zero temperatures are a lot less hostile when you’ve got hand warmers in your gloves and a wooly hat keeping the icy wind at bay.

Take inspiration from winter foliage and bring the outside indoors

Instead of treating yourself to a bunch of bright flowers from the supermarkets (that are often imported at this time of year) bring the outdoors inside by taking inspiration from winter foliage and connect with nature from the comfort of your home, too. For instance, there’s something so beautiful about the simplicity of a few fallen twigs arranged at random in antique pickling jars, a bowl of pinecones sat in a bowl or fresh ferns perched on a side table. So long as you forage sustainably and/or have the landowners permission, there’s an abundance of beauty waiting out there. You’ll save a fortune on shop-bought flowers, too.

Take inspiration from its colour palette

Winter or not, I feel more connected to nature when I allow its colour palette to guide everything from my interior design choices to style. For that reason, one of the quickest ways to connect with nature is to wear the colours that you see when you look outside. Think deep shades of cranberry, pine and chestnut or stormy greys, moss or evergreen. The best part? You’ll never go out of style because nature’s colour palette is always in season!

Search for nature’s wisdom and apply it to your own life

There are so many lessons that nature has come to master over the past 4.5 billion years in order to survive that offer so much guidance, if we choose to pay attention. For instance, in winter, much of nature slows down. Heavy rainfall is always followed by clear skies. Snowfall has a way of making the mundane look magical. With that in mind, next time you’re feeling like something is amiss in your life, try stepping outside and looking to nature for answers. What is winter trying to teach you right now? If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel more connected to nature if and when you allow the answers to that question to guide your thoughts and actions. 

Look out for local wildlife throughout the winter months

Whether it’s leaving out sunflower seeds, unsalted nuts or fat balls for the birds or leaving fallen leaves to provide shelter for hedgehogs, there’s nothing more satisfying than looking out the window and seeing local wildlife benefitting from our garden. Certain foods are poisonous for animals though so be sure to check websites like The Woodland Trust for guidance on what is and isn’t helpful!

Evergreen book

Mirror what nature is doing outside

Though I appreciate that there’s pressure to be seen here, there and everywhere these days, world over, mammals hibernate throughout winter and trees shed their leaves to save energy for spring. With that in mind, if you’re someone that gets to this time of year and feels run down, try following in nature’s footsteps and use winter as an excuse to go inwards. Not only will you reap the rewards short-term (because who doesn’t love an excuse to stay in and cosy up in your pyjamas?) you’ll also gather energy for the lighter, brighter months that follow and emerge fighting fit come spring.

Redefine your relationship with January and February

For years I always associated December with joy and January and February with being a ‘depressing’ time of year. When conversations about how ‘bleak’ winter is emerge in small talk each year though, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that we should all feel blue and miserable ‘because it’s January!’ It was only when I actively challenged the idea that the first two months of the year were depressing therefore that I started to see all of winter, not just December, as magical. (See points one and two for how I did this) It boils down to mindset. By choosing to focus on the benefits, you’ll find them

When in doubt, look up

Though admittedly, stars can be seen year round, nights are significantly shorter in summer months and humid temperatures add a noticeable haze to the air. For that reason, many astronomers refer to the winter months as ‘observing season…’ Which is why, my final tip is to look up at the night sky as much as possible throughout winter. It never ceases to amaze me how far each stars has travelled in order for us to benefit from its beauty. Use that reminder to ground you in the present moment and inspire you to make the most of this beautiful life in the days ahead.

Evergreen is out now