Irene Moore is a serial entrepreneur, business mentor and founder of award-winning Brit-born CBD brand Light Garden Wellness. She’s worked with the biggest brands in beauty, luxury and wellness for over 20yrs, before launching Light Garden Wellness after experiencing the benefits for her own anxiety and hormone-related pain.
A self-confessed self-care pusher, Irene keeps it real about what it means to be high-functioning and successful by the world’s terms and still feel like your anxiety is a dirty secret behind-the-scenes keeping you in a constant state of burnout.
A founder on a mission to build a brand that produces not only premium quality CBD products, but also wellness education and experiences that champion simple self-care for busy humans – Light Garden Wellness has all the ingredients of a cult British brand in the making.
Below she shares her journey from burnout corporate employee to successful wellness entrepreneur and reveals the scary truths behind high functioning anxiety and what you can do to avoid the slippery slope.
You call yourself a “self-confessed self-care pusher”… What does self-care mean to you?
To me, self-care is much more than a spa day here and a hot bath there. For me, it’s more about self-acceptance and practising true self-compassion so one can start to embrace simple self-care as an essential part of your daily routine, not a reward for working harder.
It’s the realisation that you are only as successful as how you feel and a commitment to cultivating empowering habits that make me feel loved and at peace in mind, body and spirit.
Your beautiful brand Light Garden Wellness was built out of necessity from a time in your life when you were struggling with anxiety and burnout. Can you tell us a bit more about this time?
I’ll be honest – I never identified as someone who had anxiety. I never saw myself as unable to cope with life’s challenges and stressful situations. In fact I think I used to pride myself on being able to handle a lot of stress. I now understand that it wasn’t because I had a high tolerance for coping with it, but because my coping mechanisms were unhealthy. I was simply – disconnected.
Rather than recognise that I needed to stop and take stock of my stress levels, my automatic response to stress was to overwork and channel my energy into ‘doing’ and achieving. This over-functioning and innate need to be constantly busy, is what led to my continuous burnout.
Understanding how high-functioning anxiety presents and realising that – whilst I’ve always been able to function at a high level even in super stressful situations – the way my anxiety was manifesting was through overcommitting, poor boundaries, people pleasing and not prioritising sleep or self-care.
Even at my lowest moments – when I was experiencing blackouts and having secret panic attacks – I still managed to convince myself that things couldn’t be that bad because it wasn’t impacting my work. If anything, over-functioning and overworking was actually helping my career thrive.
That’s why high-functioning anxiety is so dangerous and difficult to spot. Even by those very close to you who think you always have your sh*t together and don’t see the meltdowns behind the scenes. It’s the ‘go-go juice’ that many high achievers unknowingly use to propel them forward without considering the health implications that come with not factoring in proper self-care as part of your daily routine.
Was Light Garden Wellness always destined to have a focus on CBD?
No, it wasn’t actually! At first, I just wanted to build a self-care brand helping other entrepreneurs learn powerful techniques like breathwork, meditation and intentional movement to help them be more present and productive. Basically, everything I needed! It wasn’t until I was raving about CBD to my husband and how much it had helped me with my own PCOS-related pain and anxiety, but felt frustrated that I couldn’t always buy premium CBD products in the UK, that the idea dropped in to start my own CBD brand. I realised that I could amalgamate my passions for both self-care and CBD to help provide our customers with healing experiences and health products to support them from the inside out. Light Garden was born!
As a busy entrepreneur, how do you find time for yourself and what tools do you draw upon to minimise stress?
This is going to make me sound super controlling, but I actually make a plan of fun each month. Trust me – I know how ‘not fun’ this sounds haha!
I recognise that my obsession with planning things is definitely a trait of high-functioning anxiety, but the plan of fun really does help me feel calm and pushes me to be more sociable, which can sometimes be a struggle, even though most would call me confident. It also helps me prioritise more play in my life, rather than just working all the time – which used to be my previous default. For stress management, I’m a huge fan of habit stacking. I realised when I started my e-comm coaching business that relying on motivation or self-discipline alone to prioritise self-care wasn’t going to work for me! Now I tag my self-care practices onto existing habits I have in my day-to-day life so they become an extension of that habit rather than something I have to fit it around my day.
An example would be – I always make a morning coffee and I sit outside on my balcony to enjoy it in silence, so I tag on a morning meditation or breathwork immediately afterwards as I am already seated and calm. I also try to tag on just 10-15mins of yin yoga just before I shower at night so that the shower (and expensive body care I use afterwards haha) become a small reward for prioritising my body. It signals to my brain that it’s time to unwind and literally wash off the day’s worries. Of course, I also take CBD throughout the day when needed and always pop a few drops under my tongue just before I go to bed to help me feel rested and recharged the following day.
Have you always had “entrepreneur bones” or was it something that came to you a bit later in life?
No, I was born ready haha! I was definitely the ‘entrepreneur’ in every company I worked for, always looking for new ways to improve things and make campaigns more creative or efficient.
I always knew that I would work for myself eventually, but less because I wanted to be a ‘boss’ and more because I never really felt like I belonged in an office or really fit in with office culture. Don’t get me wrong I LOVED my work and the companies I worked for, but even when my career was flying it always felt like I should be doing something else. I climbed the corporate ladder pretty quickly and I now realise that work was really an escape for me so I didn’t have to face the health issues that I was experiencing privately. I also knew on a deep level that I wanted to travel and have the freedom to see more of the world as my parents did so in my mind the only way to do that was to work for yourself – so yes, I guess entrepreneurship was always on the cards.
What advice would you give to someone, business owner or not, who is struggling with high functioning anxiety?
For me – managing any type of stress requires a level of self-enquiry about where your negative or anxious thoughts may be coming from and recognising that we have options and the tools within us to help navigate them.
So much of high-functioning anxiety is around the need to always be ‘on’ so telling someone who is struggling with this to ‘slow down’ or ‘give yourself a break’, doesn’t always help! In fact it can be more stressful as the person living with high-functioning anxiety may not feel able to.
Start by recognising when you’re feeling particularly anxious and your response to that stress – are you overworking or keeping yourself super busy, but feeling burnt out in the process? Do you constantly feel tired, but never allow yourself to rest? Do you know you need help at home or at work, but refuse to ask for or even accept it? Are you feeling detached from your body and finding it hard to switch off from noise like social media, podcasts, TV or constantly socialising so you feel constantly stimulated? Do you overpromise or overcommit and then feel resentful or overwhelmed with everything on your plate? Are you sleeping through the night or being woken up by anxious intrusive thoughts?
It can be really helpful to explore these things and what you may be avoiding by being in a constant state of doing.
For me, finding CBD and other ways to get out of my head and back into my body – be it with meditation, breathwork, stretching or a power walk – really help me change my state. They help me be more present and are simple ways to step up your self-care when you’re feeling anxious. That’s why supporting our customers with these modalities as well as quality CBD products is such a big part of the Light Garden Wellness mission.
You’ve mentioned your struggles with hormonal health in the past. How has CBD helped you with this?
This is actually how I first discovered CBD. I have PCOS so I experience a lot of hormone pain so a friend gave me a homemade CBD body butter to apply on my lower back and stomach. What amazed me the most about CBD as a topical was that not only did it relieve the pain quite quickly, but also the pain never felt quite as intense after I had been using it for a few months.
I now know that this is because CBD actually supports our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) – the internal system linked to responses like chronic pain, inflammation, mood, appetite and sleep to name a few – so there is a compound effect with consistent use over time. It changed the game for me and the more I discovered about CBD and the many ways it was helping people with so many different ailments, the more I wanted to learn and advocate for.
What’s one life lesson (big or small) that you’d like to go back and tell your younger self?
When things get rough – try and do one small thing each day to help you find light in your day.
What does the future look like for Light Garden Wellness?
We’re planning lots of exciting things for our customers online, such as our Light Garden Wellness Festival, and also in-person events with a few pop-up experiences across the UK.
We’ve got more nourishing self-care and sleep products launching in the body care space for those who prefer topical CBD vs consuming it, plus we also have a dreamy new sleep podcast launching to support our customers who really struggle in this area.
The thing I’m most excited about is our new self-care experience called the Light Lounge – launching soon – for those who want live expert guidance on how to start with meditation, breathwork and intentional movement as simple tools for stress management.