As we seek to rebuild and revive our vibrant City of London community spirit, The Royal Exchange has partnered with the charity Mind in the City to explore mental health and the important role relationships, conversation, connection and community play in wellbeing. Here, we talk to Vanessa Sanyauke, the founder of Girls Talk London – an organisation that connects women with FTSE 100 businesses in the City of London – about how she maintains a positive and productive state of mind.
What activities, habits or rituals have you found to be the most conducive to maintaining good mental health through challenging times?
I find that meditating every morning and throughout the day has really helped me with my mental health during challenging times. It helps me with my breathing and keeps me centred and focused. The best apps for me are Headspace or Insight Timer.
In addition, I am an advocate for talking therapy and regularly have sessions with my therapist. These can happen once a month or once every week depending on if I am going through a challenging time. Having someone to process my experiences, feelings and thoughts with has helped me gain great perspective and clarity on things.
My daily ritual, without fail, is having quiet time in the morning where I read my prayer devotionals and journal.
Who is your go-to person when you need to talk about a problem or challenge you are facing?
I am extremely lucky to have an amazing tribe. My mum is always on hand to listen to my worries, and the best thing is that she never minimises any problem that I may have. Whether it is big or small, she listens, gives me great advice and gives me the time to talk things through with her.
One of my best friends, Lori, is someone who is always there to listen, no matter the time or day. She gives me words of encouragement and when I have really struggled she has been a voice of upliftment. Finally, having a supportive partner is really important and mine is also a go-to person for me. He is usually a very practical, calm and logical sounding board.
When you feel low, what activity helps you to feel better mentally?
I love to go for a run or a walk, it helps me clear my mind. I take my headphones with me and blast some fun and uplifting music. I always find afterwards I have a clearer mind and it helps me process my emotions and is a massive stress reliever.
Are there any resources that you use, and would recommend, to help maintain a positive state of mind?
Yes, I love YouTube for motivational videos and I have recently been using the app Insight Timer more often for curated meditation playlists. My favourite podcast for my wellbeing is Say Your Mind by Kelechi Okafor.
Have the events of 2020 changed your thoughts and feelings towards a work-life balance and is there anything you’ll do differently now?
Yes, I thought that working from home 24/7 would improve my wellbeing but actually it can mean that you end up not having the divide and mental space you get from commuting. I now know that it is all about understanding the key word ‘balance’, so it is not great to have a commute five days a week but it is also not healthy to have five days a week where you have no divide or change of scenery. Going forward I am looking to have a good mixture of some days working from home and the others going into the office, because you still need that interaction with people and human beings.
What thought always puts you in a good mood?
I curate my own playlists on Spotify, such as ‘Imposter Syndrome Busting’ or ‘Feel Good’ and when I am feeling down I blast these in my speakers or headphones and it uplifts me. Music is so powerful. I also love YouTube. I’m into interior design and property, so I’ll watch a five- minute home tour of a beautiful and expensive house to put me in a good mood!
Vanessa Sanyauke is the founder of Girls Talk London, an organisation that connects women with FTSE 100 businesses in the City of London; girlstalklondon.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