As we seek to rebuild and revive our vibrant City of London community spirit, this autumn The Royal Exchange has partnered with the charity Mind in the City to explore mental health in the City and the important role relationships, conversation, connection and community play in wellbeing. Here, we talk to Jenny Harris, communications director at The Ned, about how she maintains a positive and healthy state of mind.
What activities, habits or rituals have you found to be the most conducive to maintaining good mental health through challenging times?
When life is stressful, I really need my sleep. My mum always called it ‘nature’s medicine’ and I firmly stand behind that. Exercise is also key for me when I’m feeling off – I find that either doing yoga or working out about three times a week makes a big difference to my mental health.
How important is a sense of community to you and what/where is yours?
Having a sense of community is crucial – humans are social animals. Both professionally and personally, I like to be surrounded by people. I come from a big family and I’m not really used to being on my own. I have a big work family at The Ned too, which I love.
Who is your go-to person when you need to talk about a problem or challenge you are facing?
My husband Fred is really level-headed, which is helpful when I need to get a different perspective. My mum always has good advice too, she never fails to make me laugh and worry less.
Would you agree that a problem shared is a problem halved?
Talking through a problem with someone else definitely helps you to solve it. Even hearing yourself explain something out loud can give you the solution. It’s easy to dwell on things and overthink stuff if you keep it to yourself.
When you feel low, what activity helps you to feel better mentally?
I love yoga and I’m a big fan of Steffy White’s YouTube workouts. I just do them at home in my lounge when I need an energy boost. I also couldn’t get enough of Ryan Heffington’s dance workouts throughout lockdown. I was doing them on Zoom calls with a group of friends and it made us feel like we were all together again.
Are there any particular things you’ve identified that can trigger a low mood, or anxiety, for you? And have you discovered any ways to combat them, that help you to feel more positive again?
I didn’t love working from home in lockdown – I found it pretty lonely and isolating. To combat that I arranged to see friends and family so I still felt connected to people.
Are there any resources that you use, and would recommend, to help maintain a positive state of mind?
I’ve always liked the app Calm – the different ‘scene’ sounds really chill me out, although I drive my husband mad falling asleep with them on at full blast. I’ve been listening to the radio more than ever as well, it makes me feel connected and settled.
Jenny Harris is communications director at The Ned hotel and members’ club, which is part of the Soho House group. The Ned is situated opposite The Royal Exchange at Bank station crossroads, with entrances to its dining hall on Poultry and Princes Street; thened.com
The Royal Exchange’s local Mind network – Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest – offers a range of innovative and collaborative services to support people’s mental and physical wellbeing, resilience and recovery. Click here for further information about how to access this local service, make a donation or find out how you could help with campaigning, volunteering and fundraising
Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest is part of the national Mind network, which provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. If you, or anyone you know, is experiencing difficulties, visit mind.org.uk to access information about a broad range of topics and services, designed to help you overcome the challenges of this difficult time
Visit The Royal Exchange this autumn to celebrate the vitality of community and rediscover the joy of sensory experiences within our welcoming boutiques and eateries. Read more about our Reconnect campaign here and let us know how you are reconnecting with the world on Instagram @theroyalexchange and Twitter @rexshopper