Mental Health

Easy ways to fit wellness into your day, with Nicola Elliott

Not sure how to get started with wellness? We catch up with Nicola Elliott, the founder of NEOM and author of new book, The Four Ways to Wellbeing, who shares her tips for creating a wellbeing toolkit.

Nicola Elliott on fitting wellness into your day

What does a typical day look like for you?

There are some non-negotiables in my day, but there’s also flexibility. I wouldn’t get the most out of life knowing that I had to do everything rigidly.

I always like to get morning light after waking. My book talks about the 11 Golden Rules of Sleep, and it’s been a gamechanger. Something that I learnt was the importance of respecting your circadian rhythm. It sets you up for the day and helps you get a good night’s sleep. Morning light exposure can help to regulate our circadian rhythm.

I try to get out in the daylight for half an hour in the morning. This might be taking the kids to school, or walking along the river if I’m working in London.

I always take omega-3, magnesium and vitamin D in the morning too, and I tinker with fasting depending on how I feel. I aim to get movement in four times a week and, for me, that’s walking and doing weights.

Variety is important so I have to make sure the day is made up of lots of little bits of interesting stuff. Work for me is fun, it’s where my friends are and it’s where I can be creative. Luckily, I’ve been able to craft a job that doesn’t feel too much like work!

One of the best things I did was invest in a horse when I hit 40. My daughter and I go riding after she’s finished school and that’s so lovely. I think having a hobby that’s outdoors can be very grounding and it’s guaranteed to shift a mood.

Plus, it means I’ve got a group of friends that I talk about something completely different with. I’m not Nicola from NEOM with my horse friends. It’s a great breather from everyday life.

What do your evenings look like?

I’m really a bit of a hermit! I like to create a snuggly, homely vibe. The house will be filled with candles to create a calming zone. I’m a big cook, too. The end of the day is always candles, comfort food and snuggling up on a sofa.

My bedtime routine is key, and I like doing it – it’s a really lovely wind-down. I’m quite religious about it!

I have a bath every night with our Perfect Night’s Sleep Candles and Magnesium Bath Milk. I’m a bit of a magnesium fiend – I get it in where I can as it’s brilliant for so many functions.

And I’m an avid reader. I always aim to be in bed for 10pm with half an hour’s reading time.

Wellness can feel overwhelming at times – do you have any tips for getting started?

What I’m really keen to do is to help people create a wellness toolkit. We’re all different, with different lives and changing wants and needs – what works for me won’t necessarily work for someone else. Having a framework can make this seem a little bit more achievable.

The four pillars of NEOM – better sleep, less stress, boosting your energy and lifting your mood – are key. We develop every NEOM product underneath one of them, and it’s also a framework for wellness that provides some flexibility.

With these pillars in mind, we can plot different activities against them and start to explore what works best in our own lives.

But doesn’t it all take so much time?

I’m not an evangelist. You won’t find me doing yoga on the beach or a run at 5am in the morning and just drinking green smoothies – that’s not me, even if I wish it was sometimes! I’m a realist. I like a chicken pie and a good white wine.

At NEOM we always say ‘small steps, big difference’. Wellness really can be about the small things.

I don’t have time to carve out two extra hours at the end of the day to do something more – it’s not about that. Rather than overhauling our entire lifestyle, we can just make tweaks to many of the things that we’re probably already doing.

Maybe it’s just walking from one meeting to another, or it might be taking your coffee and sitting next to an open window to get that morning light, rather than scrolling on social media. If you have a bath in the evening, add magnesium salts and sit in there for 15 minutes to let it soak in.

Everyone wants to know what I do and what supplements I’m taking but, while it would be lovely to have a silver bullet, it doesn’t exist. It’s about creating a toolkit that works in tandem with your lifestyle. The minute it starts feeling like you’ve not got time – it’s not going to work.

If it’s something that enhances your life and fits in amongst everything else, then that’s a tool that can stay. Wellness for me is about getting the most out of life and enjoying it to the max.

How has your approach to wellness has changed throughout life?

You have different priorities – different things that work. It’s an ever-evolving toolkit, which is great as I get bored of doing the same thing all the time.

As you get older, you have to work on things a little more. It’s in your control to be able to help yourself get a good night’s sleep etc. but you definitely have to work at it more than what you might have done aged 25!

Exercise changes and evolves, too. I used to prefer much more high intensity exercise, and I certainly didn’t do weights.

I didn’t have as much need or desire to learn or enrich my mind, either. Maybe that box was ticked in other ways but now I feel a lot more desire to nourish myself with learning and development.

Many of my decisions in my 20s and 30s were around building a stable home and prioritising the children. One of the luxuries of getting older  is that you can have one eye on them but also one eye on you. Some decisions I make now aren’t just focused on them.

What are you doing to future-proof your health?

When I was starting NEOM, I trained as a nutritionist and as an aromatherapist and I’m quite fanatical about nutrition, particularly the importance of eating the right fats.

I’m also big on weights. In your 20s, movement is often more about how you look, whereas in your 40s, it’s more about respecting your body and getting the most out of it. There’s so much brilliant research on the importance of looking after our bone density. I think weights are not only a great way to keep our bodies in shape, but also a practical way to look after it.

In terms of my personal development, I want to keep things interesting. When you’re 25 you might think to yourself ‘if I build a successful business by the time I’m 45, I’ll be done’. But then you get there and realise it’s not a means to an end. You want to keep growing.

You can start to be a bit more flexible and consider whether things are going to nourish you, or if you even find them interesting. The shackles and pressures of our earlier years are no longer as prevalent.

Is there something about wellness that you’d like to demystify?

It’s important to create a toolkit for yourself – you need to find what works for you, and what you enjoy.

Initially, it can feel very daunting that there isn’t a simple to-do list to follow, but once you get past that, you realise that there’s a lot of flexibility to find what works for you. There’s a huge amount of trial and error, and it might take you a year or two to get there but it should be very bespoke and something that adapts to your lifestyle.

Wellness should be pleasant and something that enhances your life. It’s absolutely not a list of things that you have to do on top of everything else.

When you reframe it as that, you can go out and create a really rich kit that works for you. Enjoy the process of creating that kit. It’s going to work 10 times better because it’s all about you.

Find out more about Nicola Elliott’s book, The Four Ways to Wellbeing

After eighteen years of building the UK’s leading wellbeing business, Nicola combines her own no-nonsense advice with insights from experts on sleep, stress, energy and mood, so that you can find the solutions that work for you.

Nicola believes that wellbeing starts with the little moments. Whether you’ve got 30 seconds or 30 minutes, she shares simple tips and tricks to suit your lifestyle and help you feel better than ever.

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