Claire Rother MSc is a somatic practitioner, mind-body expert, holistic coach and integrative health specialist with over 10 years’ experience. Here she shares her mental health experience and journey with us.
As a professional who helps others to reclaim their health and vibrancy and heal from the effects of chronic stress, burnout and trauma, I have spent a lot of my life thinking and studying mental health - understanding how and why humans struggle in the ways they do and what can be done to improve the way we feel and move though our lives across all levels of experience; mental, physical and emotional.
Yet perhaps even more importantly - as a woman who comes from a family with mental illness and who has herself struggled with her mental health and wellbeing - my deep drive and passion to learn about mental health and how to support optimum mind-body wellbeing has been a very personal journey.
Having suffered from an eating disorder for many years, as well as anxiety and depression, my journey to restoring and reclaiming my mental health has been a journey that I’ve been passionately invested in and it is one that has allowed me to arrive at a place where I feel like I am vibrant and living.
When I think about what mental health means to me, I think about these two words; restoring connection. This is, I believe, the essence of healing and true wellbeing of the mind and body; restoring connection to our bodies, to others and to nature.
Unfortunately, there are so many things in life that can get in the way of our proper connection to ourselves and others - things like trauma and attachment injuries in childhood, chronic stress, and living in a capitalist society that glorifies constant hustle and productivity. When we lose this connection we lose our sense of aliveness and vibrancy, our life force stops flowing through us and instead gets stagnant and blocked, and everything can start to feel dull and lacking meaning. Perhaps most tragically of all - it is in these states of disconnection that we lose touch with our own wholeness, our inherent worthiness, goodness and power. We can feel like we no longer know who we are anymore.
Personally, there are many ways that I have been able to reclaim my mental and emotional health and restore connection to my body, others and nature. Some of the key things that have helped me to be more connected to myself are developing a mindfulness and meditation practice, breathwork and biofeedback (I love the HeartMath) system and I am a trained HeartMath coach too), yoga practice and simply carving out some quiet and alone time just for me. These things have allowed me to come into my body and be more in touch with my feelings and more aware of my thought patterns - which has opened up the possibility of changing my habitual patterns of feeling and thinking (as they say, change must start with awareness).
As someone who used to suffer from severe social anxiety, reconnecting with others authentically has been very healing, and really started with me learning how to reconnect to myself. In particular, learning how to settle and soothe myself, to find a sense of inner safety and security and becoming mindful of the thoughts I was having about myself and others that were stopping me from connecting fully and fuelling my anxiety.
As someone who grew up surrounded by nature, the natural world has always been very important to me. Yet as I got older and moved to London, got busy studying and then working, I started to feel less and less connected to the world around me. I believe that when we are more connected to ourselves we naturally seek out and make more time for connecting with nature - there is a beautiful resonance in our nervous system when we are surrounded by the welcoming arms of the natural world. As my healing journey became much more intentional and conscious, so too did my effort to get out into nature. Simple things like tree hugging (yes! Even my fancy grandar used to do this in all her glamour and glitz and she swore by it for helping with her anxiety), walking in nature, even things like watching nature documentaries, listening to nature sounds (whether real or recordings (waves and birds are my favourite) and spending time in the company of animals can help if we aren't able to actually get out into the nature.
I remind myself that it's the small everyday things we do that make the real difference to our mental health and how connected we feel. I remind myself that even on days that feel so full and busy, those are the most important to carve out some time - however small - for some connection. For instance, the other evening I found myself having just got my two children to bed, feeling really tired, listening to the sounds of the ocean on Spotify sitting in the light of my salt lamp in my bedroom putting on my TEMPLESPA REPOSE Relaxing Night Cream - taking my time to tenderly massage the cream into my face, feeling my hands on my skin, taking in the beautiful aroma that I can feel calming me...even in small moments like this we can intentionally connect to ourselves. These small moments repeated are what create the huge shifts in our life, if we can only slow down just enough to honour them.
Claire Rother MSc is a somatic practitioner, mind-body expert, holistic coach and integrative health specialist with over 10 years’ experience working with women to help them heal, grow and improve their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing so that they can move past the patterns and behaviours that are holding and expand into the fullest, most vibrant expression of who they are.