Emily Claire : Emily & The Plants

BB: So how did Emily & The Plants begin?

EC: The business is two and a bit years old now, and it came about from healing and working on myself and trying to get healthy again. I realised that a lot of what I was learning and what was working wasn’t very widely known. I felt like it was a huge piece of what was missing in helping people stay healthy and helping people heal. 

It sprung from that and then developed as my experience and knowledge grew.It started out as a blog,  sharing information about herbal remedies and a more mindful way of living and developed from there. First with 1 to 1 coaching and then graduated into creating tinctures and products that clients could use, but also that other people could purchase if they couldn’t afford to do the 1 to 1 coaching at that time – I was very aware that the people I was wanting to help had been in a similar position to me, and probably wouldn’t be able to work or have that much disposable income. 

More recently it has turned into a more preventative and more seasonal way of living, rather than focusing on just curing people. A lot of my work focuses on a holistic, whole body approach to healing, and for me that includes lifestyle. The habits and the things that we repeat every single day, they’re the things that make up our health.  Society has taught us to ignore a lot of the stuff that actually, genuinely makes us healthier, happier people. We’re told that success and happiness is found in material things and wealth and money, when really chasing those is what ends up making a lot of us sick to start with.

BB: What was your life like before illness?

EC: After uni I ended up in events planning, and I was working for the home office police force, running these quite high profile assessment centre events.We would design and prepare these events and then go down and run them. I was working 16 hour days for three weeks straight, and event planning in general is quite a stressful job. I think that combined with a lot of things was what in the end, triggered my health issues. Once I got sick, I tried to go back into it, and It was too much for me. My nervous system couldn’t handle it. I quit and spent 3 or 4 months travelling. It was when I got back and finally relaxed that I ended up getting sick.

BB: Did you go through a period of denying your illness to try and keep your life ‘normal’?

EC: A lot of it was denial and then there was that part that was –  the doctors don’t know what they’re talking about, I’ll be fine. I’ll just carry on going and it’ll sort itself out. However it didn’t. 
I think a lot of people go through a similar thing, from what I’ve seen with people who are dealing with or I’ve dealt with chronic fatigue and burnout, there’s that part of you that connects your self-worth with how productive and busy you are and you’re not willing to give that up. So you just keep pushing on through and hoping for the best, and then it all sort of crumbles around your ears.
I think partly that was because. I wasn’t listening to my body. I didn’t understand the illness and it was really my body trying to protect me and say, hey, hang on, you need to rest here and heal. 
I probably would have healed a lot quicker and my illness being less severe if I’d have listened that first time around rather than just pretending it wasn’t happening and then ending up sort of ten times worse because what little reserves I had used up and had nothing left.

BB: Did you have much support after you became unwell, as some people with chronic fatigue can face a lot of suspicion about the diagnosis itself?

EC: My brother and his wife were very much  – I don’t believe in it, there’s no such thing, there’s nothing wrong with you. You should be out working.  I was very lucky that my mum was very supportive and she has always been there. I lost quite a lot of friendships as well, from people who wanted the old Emily back, the fun Emily, which is the last thing you want to hear when you’re struggling yourself and feeling like you don’t know who you are anymore. 
It’s easier to look back now and understand it all happened for a reason and it put me on the right path. Illness isn’t easy to deal with because it sort of strips you of everything you think you are and you have to sort of start again rebuilding everything.

BB: At what point did you realize that actually fundamental change was going to be necessary for you?

EC: At the start. I don’t think it was ever really a realisation or not something I was willing to accept consciously. My life had been reduced to being at home, sitting in the same room, staring at the same four walls. I realised that if I carried on that way, I could very quickly and easily sink into a serious depression. I found that I was managing to go on short walks and I was using nature and those tiny weeny little moments like spotting a beautiful flower or watching a bumblebee or like small things like that. They were the only moments of joy I was having on a really shitty day and they were the things that started to help me. So I carried on doing more of that.

BB: It helped you emotionally or it helped you in another way – how did that work?

EC: Initially it was emotionally and mentally. It was starting to slowly cultivate that positive mindset and focusing on the good things rather than the bad and then almost without really realising it adopting a more mindful focus on being in the present rather than on the things that I couldn’t do anymore. It allowed me to focus on the present and start to slowly rebuild and find out who I was again – what made me happy? What helped me and what wasn’t helping? There were things that I would feel more energised from doing and then the things that left me drained. 
I built a new routine for myself, finding different things that I could enjoy doing like getting back into painting and drawing and, and things that were still enjoyable, were creative, but not exhausting and draining on my energy. 
Although it started off as helping me to focus mentally, the knock on effect of that was that I was happier and felt more positive about the situation. So, when the doctors were, this is as good as it’s going to get for you, so we’ll see you later, off you go, I didn’t give up. I’d seen that I’d made some improvements, so that made me think, well, I’ll find the answer for myself then.
Before I got sick, I had absolutely no idea that the holistic world existed and that there was any other way of healing other than going to the doctor. It was a huge learning curve, this whole world opened up and my focus became this research and I guess experimenting on myself to see what worked and just trying things.  The mind, the mental and the emotional came first and then as that improved, I was then able to focus on healing the physical as well. I now know and understand now that nature has that healing effect on your nervous system and reduces stress, so without even really realising it, I was helping my body.

BB: How’s your health nowadays?

EC: I still have days where I feel quite drained and tired, but other than that, I would say I’m pretty much at 90%. I probably need more sleep than some people can function on, but  I no longer get the flare ups or the days in bed that I used to get. Yeah, so much better than it was.

BB: Do you feel any draw to going to your previous lifestyle?

EC: I’ve done it once – never again! I’ve got the emotional scars and everything else. I can’t imagine having to go sit in an office. I don’t think I could ever go back. I did try about four years or so ago going into retail, but that was too stressful and unpredictable to be able to really manage my energy. I lasted about six months and then it took me another six months to recover again. It never really ever crossed my mind that I was going to work for myself, it just sort of happened on its own, but I don’t think I could ever go back now at all.

BB: What’s the most common patterns that you see in your clients?

EC: There are some that have already started trying to live more seasonally or more mindfully to find that balance. They’re realising that something needs to change. There are those that want to make the changes, but don’t really know how to start.  I would say that that’s sort of where most people are, when they find me. They start researching and trying to find out what their next steps could be, that’s when they end up coming across a lot of what I’m sharing. They find the blog first and then migrate over to the other things that I offer.

BB: What do you think it is about the modern world that’s making us sick?

EC: I think it’s a combination of a disconnection from nature and modern society. There is a disconnection from our natural cycles. If you think back to how our ancestors lived, it was very much in tune with the seasons and the natural rhythm of the earth. They hibernated in winter as much as animals do because they didn’t have central heating, they didn’t have lights, so they had to have those times of resting and then come spring, they were more active again. 
We’re now expected to work without stopping and resting or taking care of ourselves is seen as an indulgence, where taking time away is seen as some sort of failure because you’re not moving forward and you’re not achieving some goal.

BB: What steps would you suggest someone take if they are feeling drained and overwhelmed, even if not suffering from chronic fatigue?

EC: I would suggest starting with the basics. Look at sleep and nutrition;  make sure that they get good quality of sleep and focus on balanced meals. So meals that have complex carbs, healthy fats, protein, loads of fruits and veggies and eating as healthily and cleanly as they can. Focusing on lots of healing ingredients and trying to get as many micronutrients as possible. Make sure to get out and get fresh air and go for walks and exercise.
Do something creative or just for fun and try to reignite their interest and re-find creativity. When we’re tired and fatigued, it isn’t always that we’re just tired and we need more sleep. It can be that we aren’t feeding our imagination, or we aren’t being creative enough, or we aren’t getting enough fresh air. 
Find ways to break out of the routine and do something different – it can be enough to wake you up again. Doing different things that your body and your brain aren’t used to doing can almost give you a different perspective and allow you to step back from that everyday routine and hopefully help you see a bit clearer what it is that’s causing the fatigue or the exhaustion.
Bodies are so complex, it’s really hard to be able to just go, it’s clearly that one thing, so I’ll just change that. Our bodies are like their own little ecosystems, so if one thing is off, it can be affecting everything else and it can take a while to find the cause.

BB: Are there any ways people can try to reconnect with nature?

EC: I like to stand barefoot and close my eyes, take a few deep breaths and just notice using all my senses –  seeing what I can hear, and then feeling the grass under my feet and the sun on my face and bringing myself back into my body. 
It can be as simple as going for a walk and noticing the plants that are growing and what’s flowering and what’s different. Nature is always changing and it always amazes me, no matter how many times I walk down the same path, there’s always something new. There’s just something magical about nature for me, and I don’t know if it’s about connecting to the inner child, but I always sort of find something that will make me smile or make me feel a little bit lighter. 
Being out there in the elements is grounding, it’s refreshing, it’s uplifting and it makes me feel better. It’s a reset and you can go back and start again. 
Just be present and and let go of everything else and and just be for a few minutes.

BB: Do you think you’ve found your calling?

EC: I don’t know if it’s my calling, but I’m definitely a lot happier and it’s definitely the direction I need to be going on or in. Things happen, you adapt and you try and find a place. I vividly remember being a kid and looking at adults and thinking that they had it all together, they knew what they were doing, and you kind of get there and realise that everybody’s just guessing and nobody really knows what they’re doing.

BB: How can people work with you?

EC: My website https://emilyandtheplants.com has a lot of free resources and guidance for people who are interested in living more seasonally and intentionally. A great place to start is my free digital course called Rooted & Intentional which has 12 lessons to guide you through the basic foundational habits that will help you heal, feel good & support your long term health and wellbeing, along with a host of practical tools to help you start that journey.You can sign up and find out more via https://emilyandtheplants.com/rooted-intentionally-you