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 William Russell, The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of London, about how he 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?
During challenging times, staying fit and healthy is really important. Not only do I find that exercise improves my physical health, it also plays a hugely positive role in enhancing my mental health too. Over the past few months, I’ve done a range of sports, from jogging and biking to playing tennis. When possible, I also like to go on a walk to clear my head. It gives me some space away from the office and time to think things through without distraction.
How important is a sense of community to you and what/where is yours?
For me, having a sense of community is absolutely critical. In my early years, I found a great sense of community at school and at university. Now, I find that community within the City of London and its many connected institutions, such as London’s Livery Companies. During this pandemic, I’ve been doing everything I can to keep that sense of community alive in the City, whether that be by organising virtual events or visiting our key workers that are keeping the City going.
Inside The Mansion House, where the Lord Mayor of London works and resides
Who is your go-to person when you need to talk about a problem or challenge you are facing?
When I need to talk about a problem, I always talk to my wife, Hilary, the Lady Mayoress. We have known each other since we were 18, so she is very aware of how I handle difficult situations and emotions. Through talking issues through with her, I am offered another perspective which helps me to see the issue in a new light and brings me much closer to a resolution.
Are there any resources that you use, and would recommend, to help maintain a positive state of mind?
During lockdown, I joined a reverse mentoring scheme. This gives me the opportunity to learn from a junior colleague about their experiences and background and to talk through any issues that might arise at work or in their career. I like meeting new people so I have greatly enjoyed sharing stories with my mentor and gaining a new perspective on different situations and the world we live in today.
What is your daily mantra for maintaining a healthy mind?
Be kind to others. You are always going to feel much better about yourself if you’ve brought some positivity into another person’s day. We are all trying to do our best after all.
William Russell is The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of London. He lives and works in the City and his role is to serve as a global ambassador for the UK-based financial and professional services industry, promoting British business both at home and abroad; cityoflondon.gov.uk
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