Donna Booth is an award-winning wellbeing specialist who offers a complete solution for all your wellbeing needs. In this interview, Donna shares her professional journey and insights in self-healing and wellness.
Please could you share your background and what inspired you to guide people in their life challenges?
My previous background was quite corporate. I was a management consultant, very involved in change management and customer relationship management, and then in the public sector around business development. I became increasingly disillusioned and burnt out. A lot of what I was doing in my management consultancy role was called development, but you were going into companies looking at how they could streamline processes and ultimately strip people out. It was all about profit, and it just didn’t really sit very well with me.
One of the last companies I worked for was really interested in meditation. This was early days before Google and others were training their staff in meditation, and before it was so mainstream. I went on a meditation and yoga training retreat and also trained in transcendental meditation, which just changed everything.
In about 2008, I was done; I was exhausted, depressed, anxious, in physical pain and eventually I was diagnosed with ME and chronic fatigue syndrome, but I think really it almost certainly was brought on by burnout. I approached my company and at the time there were redundancies available. My role wasn’t eligible, but understanding that I would leave anyway, they were very kind and offered a package which I used towards setting up my business, Vitality.
My vision for Vitality was to be a place where people could access different therapies. Different things work for different people, and some things feel more accessible than others. I wanted to create a holistic space for people to recover from burnout, to build their resilience, to look at stress management and to understand self-care and that’s really where my journey took me to almost the opposite of what I’d been doing previously although the skills I learned in those roles have been hugely beneficial. I do still offer consultancy work and run workshops within the public, corporate and 3rd sector as to individuals so I’ve almost gone full circle but understanding that the well-being aspect is really key for the business world and individuals.
What services do you offer?
I’m a wellbeing specialist offer mindfulness based cognitive behavioral therapy and clinical hypnotherapy. I also teach mindfulness and yoga classes in person and online. I run retreats that bring all the other work together in gorgeous, super relaxing venues and we actually won Lux Magazine’s ‘Best Women’s Wellness Retreat in Scotland.’ We now have an online version of Vitality, Vitality’s Inner Sanctum, which born out of the pandemic. It is an online retreat center offering themed retreats, well-being courses, visiting expert workshops and moon circles. Our Inner Sanctum accessible from anywhere and we have a lovely group of people within the membership. It is so nice to get to know people from all different places.
What are some of the more common aspects people approach you with?
Anxiety is a big one, it has always been a big one and it’s gotten worse. There’s been a real sort of movement or explosion almost in health anxiety, stress, burnout – people don’t really call it burnout but you’ll see people who have just lost interest and lost touch with the magic in life, just going through the motions. That is usually when I see people, where they’ve lost their purpose and reason to get up in the morning. We work on whatever aspect of Vitality is best suited to bring them back to realizing life is worth living and is in fact pretty incredible. I’m a big fan of the practical and the scientific mixed with a bit of magical thinking, I think it’s really important to have all aspects of that in my practice.
Traditionally when people feel unwell, it is a visit to the doctor’s room and very often treatment is through medication even more so with the rise of anxiety following the world pandemic we have all faced. What are your thoughts on this and the importance of turning to self-healing in a holistic sense?
I think it’s absolutely key, I’m not anti medication. I think medication absolutely has its place when used properly and as support, but it just doesn’t solve anything on its own. It’s almost like a pause. It takes a whole life or holistic approach to what’s going on in the person’s life that has got them to where they are and what tools they need to learn, that stop them from relapsing. How do they recover? How do they find the magic in their life? How do they find their purpose?
One of my big mottos is ‘self-care is never selfish’ and self-care is a much bigger thing than having a bath with candles, for example, it’s about what you eat, what you read, the people that you spend your time with, what your home environment is like, your financial situation, attending doctor’s appointments, attending dentist appointments, self-care is making sure that you are taking care of yourself. Some people may see that as selfish, but actually, if you look after yourself, you are in a much better position to take care of other people. Self-healing and the awareness of that is absolutely key and is the most important aspect of holistic health.
In your experience in working with people, what would you say is the number one thing that holds most people back from living the fulfilling life they would like to live?
Fear is a big thing. People are terrified of failing but also of succeeding. The fear of change, where it’s almost more comfortable to just keep going, feeling bad than it is to take the risk of everything getting better. Being in a comfort zone may feel comfortable but it’s actually a trap and when you’re not pushing yourself or trying new things or taking risks, very quickly, it drains your confidence and your self-esteem. That is where people become really fearful of change and keep going in this comfortable rut where they’re not fulfilled and they’re not excited by life and they’re not really living. They’re just kind of sleepwalking through this comfort zone. So, I think fear and being too comfortable is probably where I see people being held back from living the life that they really want to live.
Lastly, when it comes to health and wellness are there any non-negotiable practices you use personally to maintain your self-care?
I have my yoga practice, meditation, even if it is just taking a few moments to tune into what’s around me or my breath.
I love to spend time outside, in my garden or walking my dogs, that connection to nature. I adore sea swimming; it is one of my absolute favorite things to do even though here in the north of Scotland, the sea is freezing. One of my favourite practices is morning pages -journaling every morning to get the layer of stuff out of the way so I can focus better. I think of it as ‘brushing your teeth for your brain’.
Nature is always a fast track back to what’s important rather than everything in between with media and social media and all the stuff we’re told is important. It can get really overwhelming, so time away from that, being mindful and being present is so important.