Having grown her company from a food blog to an app, four best-selling books, a London deli, four ranges of food products in around 6,000 UK stores, and a new podcast (already with over 2 million downloads)—all in just seven years—you might be inclined to say that Ella Mills, of Deliciously Ella, is indeed busy.
And with busy often comes stress, pressure and various other anxiety-producing demands. Yet Ella is cautious to buy into what she says is a cultural obsession with quantity over quality. Instead, she chooses to consistently come back to the ‘simplest things’, suggesting this is where a more sustainable approach to wellness lies.
I asked Ella how she manages a growing business, daily stresses and bringing more balance and well-being into her life personally. She was honest in saying she’s had moments where the ‘busy’ has taken hold, however said wellness for her is about bringing it back to the basics—looking after your body and mind, in a way that feels enjoyable.
There have been times when I’ve thought I was too busy to take that hour at 6.30am for yoga or to meditate for ten minutes before sleep, I’ve never really been too busy for that, but I’d get myself into a much more frantic space and I’d never perform as well at work or feel as happy in myself.
She’s also much more conscious of what she can do to support herself on an ongoing basis now. Being a ‘big believer’ that happiness is something that doesn’t just ‘happen’, it’s something we keep working on.
Ella suggests feelings of burn out can start to impact every aspect of our lives and so taking time to look after yourself really matters. As more people suffer from work-related stress and anxiety, we’re skipping lunch breaks, and not taking our annual leave because of it—people are in desperate need of this time out.
In an always-on culture, how do people start to make these changes?
Ella has found her own morning practice of yoga the most valuable, saying physically making space helps her mentally make space and create a positive mindset daily. However, she’s also quick to remind that one size doesn’t fit all. There are so many ‘wellness tools’ to choose from and finding something that works for you and your lifestyle is the best solution to feeling healthier and happier in the long run. And, it’s the small changes that make all the difference.
I have tried so many different, more wacky things but honestly the things I come back to are the simplest: ten-minute mediations, vinyasa yoga, walks in the park with my dog and husband and no phone, baths before bed, seven hours sleep and healthy, plant-based food.
For Ella those small changes initially started with a focus on eating more nutritiously—after hitting rock bottom mentally and physically in 2011—and quickly grew into a passion for the plant-based lifestyle she now advocates.
Deliciously Ella is partly a result of Ella finding a passion and joy for cooking nutritious, plant-based meals at home. And when you enjoy what you do, you’re much more likely to bring about balance and well-being in your life.
As Brene Brown, world-renown social researcher and multiple New York Times best-selling author shows in her research, play and enjoyment are critical for creating a balanced, happy life. In Gifts of Imperfection she describes play as something we do “because it’s fun and because we want to” and that it’s “as vital to our health as nutrition and exercise”.
Ella’s sense of joy could just be contagious. Clearly, the trends for eating healthier, more nutritious meals have been increasing. The Global Wellness Institute suggests that more consumers “than ever before” are conscious about their own health, and that of the planet. Their predicted trends have included more mood-enhancing foods on airlines through to exponential growth of those identifying as vegan.
But there’s more work to be done, with just 27% of the UK population eating their ‘five-a-day’, when really we should even be aiming for ten.
Ella is clear about the impact they want to have through continuing to educate and inspire people. Their mission extends from supporting people to live happier and healthier lives all the way through to addressing global challenges of climate change.
Ella Mills is one of eight UK ‘Women In Wellness’ I interviewed across different types and stages of business, to understand how they are growing successful businesses whilst bringing balance and well-being into their own lives. Ayurvedic Therapist, Natalie Eve, also shared that taking time to look after yourself is vital for well-being. The remaining articles will be published throughout March in celebration of International Women’s Day.