This Mental Health Awareness Week, we've taken some time out to chat to two inspiring women within our community, Claira and Noelle, about all things self-love, combatting societal pressures, and breaking the stigma surrounding mental health.
Every open conversation about mental health is a step closer to fighting the stigma, and we're so grateful to both Claira and Noelle for sharing their thoughts so openly.
First, Meet Claira
I’m Claira, a BBC Radio Presenter and self-love and confidence coach. I spent a lot of my life not liking myself or my body. I then spent many years relearning and reprogramming myself and my mind so I could feel free and at peace. I can now say I love myself.
We love how empowering/uplifting your content is – what motivated you to start sharing content about self worth?
When you have hated yourself and your body, when you have despised yourself and your body for years, and you finally find freedom from that you want to share it with everyone women in the hope they’ll get free too!
I lost my mum when I was 9 to breast cancer and my sister got breast cancer at 25 and died at 31. I carry the BRCA Gene mutation which gives me an 85% chance of getting cancer. That’s why in 2015 I had a preventive double mastectomy. Believe it or not that was the turning point when it comes to my relationship with my body. I fell in love with her for all she does for me and realised she was my best friend. It’s just been getting better ever since.
Do you feel like societal pressures have had an impact your mental health?
HUGELY! There’s pressures for us to look a certain way, act a certain, achieve certain things and what feels like endless others.
These can cause anxiety, stress, worry and most of all fear! Fear is what holds so many of us stuck and it’s taken me years to work through my past and my beliefs that where holding me stuck!
What has been your biggest learning on your journey with finding self-love/self-worth?
That only I can do it. Only I can give it to myself. It’s not easy. It won’t necessarily be quick but it’s so worth it. In fact, creating a good relationship with us is life changing. It’s the most important relationship we’ll ever have and the only one that lasts our entire lifetime! It’s so important we get it right as it is the foundation from which we experience our entire reality.
In your opinion, what can people do in their own lives to breakdown the stigma around mental health?
TALK and keep talking! It’s so important to normalise conversations around mental health and emotion so we can better understand ourselves and each other. It should not be taboo to talk about or show emotion. It should not be taboo to discuss our trauma.
It’s important to understand that mental health is a spectrum and we are all on it!
Normalise getting help. Healing ourselves is the single biggest investment we can ever make in ourselves.
What piece of advice would you share with others?
PUT YOU FIRST! People often see this as selfish but being the best version of you is not only good for you, it’s good for everyone else too. Like I mention build a good relationship with yourself and everything else gets easier.
When do you feel most in your comfort zone?
Hmmmm comfort zones are funny things! Comfort zones can be very uncomfortable, they are simply what is known to us. For example the job we hate or the crappy relationship we won’t leave. We stay because we know it and the unknown is scarier than staying in what we know even if it is shit!
Everything good is on the outside of the comfort zone!
I feel most in mine when I’m stuck it old patterns but luckily I normally realise quite quick and shift myself out of there!
When did you last push yourself out of your comfort zone?
I recently went on holiday solo! I travelled at 32 for 10 months on my own in 2016 (although I was very rarely alone! Travel is very social).
A lot has happened since 2016 and this time around none of my friends could go away when I wanted to so I booked a trip to Mexico last month. I felt very anxious about it booking it but I’m so glad I did. Sometimes we have to do things that feel uncomfortable to get to the things that feel expensive and great.
Anything else you’d like to share?
GO FOR IT! Life doesn’t last forever and nor do we! Working on your mental health and/or learning to love yourself might seem scary but sometimes the only way forward is through! You won’t ever regret it but you might regret never trying. If you want to change your life start by changing yourself. You are the root of it all!
Huge thanks to Claira for sharing her journey with us so openly – we hope that you all enjoy these inspiring insights and reminders as much as we did.
Next, we speak to our OG Pantee girl, Noelle – a self-proclaimed foodie, mental health topic lover & advocate for therapy.