My Journey: James, Founder of Sanctus

In this interview James, founder of Sanctus, shares his journey with us, along with honest advice about what we can do to look after our mental health at work – whether we work for ourselves or someone else.

What is Sanctus all about?

We’re on a mission to change the perception of mental health and want to put the world’s first mental health gym on the high street one day.

How did you first become interested in mental health?

Through my own experience of poor mental health I suppose. I had a period in my life where I had pretty bad anxiety and then panic attacks. I didn’t really know what was going on and mainly blamed other things in my life for how I was feeling. I knew nothing about mental health and there wasn’t a space where I felt like I could talk about it.

So your life was on a different path before you discovered this calling?

Absolutely, I was a different person really. I was all about image and material things, very closed off too. Things are really different now.

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Self-care for people who don’t ‘do’ self-care

With the wellness industry having basically taken over the world in the last couple of years, self-care is one of those phrases you just can’t get away from. A quick search on the ‘gram brings up gorgeous photos of baths with actual roses in them (do people even do that in real life?), beautiful women peeling off charcoal face masks (I can only assume they’re fighting back the tears like champs) and smoothie bowls that inevitably require about 50 different ingredients (most likely including turmeric). While these are all, no doubt, excellent examples of self-care….they’re just so much effort. If you’re going through a tough time, or struggling with poor mental health, even having a shower can seem like an insurmountable task, smoothie bowl is a definite no. According to the NHS Self Care Forum, self-care is defined as ‘the actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness’.

The way I see it – especially from the point of view of someone with a mental illness – self-care is simply anything non-destructive you can do to make yourself feel happier in the short term.

As someone who isn’t massively into things like smoothie bowls and baths (controversial, I know), here are some examples of self-care that might not result in Insta worthy snaps, but will definitely help to improve your mood and, if nothing else, will force you to get out of your own head for a while.
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Summer of Change Festival

By this point in the year, New Year’s resolutions are often a distant memory, even for the most strong-willed amongst us. But that doesn’t mean we should save all of our plans for change until 2018. As my new favourite saying goes

if not now…when?

To inspire both personal and social change, The Canvas Cafe is hosting a two week festival next month, exploring 8 areas in which we can all make a positive changes; environment, work and social business, community action, relationships and love, happiness, dance and creativity, health and wellbeing, and a day focused on changemakers. I’m delighted to be part of the Health and Wellbeing day, joining a panel discussion – It Starts With You: Self-care in a busy world. I’ll be talking all things work/life balance, digital detox and mental wellbeing with Lucy Pearson (Unplugged Weekend), Shakira Sturgess (Miss Simple Living) and Dion Terrelonge (Style and Wellbeing). Our panel will be moderated by the amazing Marianne Cantwell, whose book Be a Free Range Human completely changed my views on the ever-elusive ‘dream job’, what it means to be successful, and the pursuit of happiness.

Get tickets here for what promises to be a lively and (hopefully!) informative discussion – your ticket gets you a free lunch too 😋

Get Your Yoga Fix at Your Desk

We live in a busy, fast-paced world and for many of us, spending hours of our day sitting in front of a computer screen is our reality. While there is no substitute for leaving your desk and taking a walk, going to a yoga class, or squeezing in a quick workout to escape your day, sometimes there is too much to get done and it is simply not an option. Below are four exercises that can be done at your desk. With these gentle poses, you can break up your day, reset your body and your mind and invigorate your productivity without even needing to leave your workspace.

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How Yoga Can Kick Anxiety’s Butt

One of the top pieces of advice for anyone suffering with depression and/or anxiety is to get moving. Exercise can be a powerful antidote to many of the negative thoughts and feelings associated with these conditions, even if providing only temporary relief. That said, while in the throes of a depressive episode or crippling anxiety, even the walk from your bed to the bathroom can seem impossible, so a trip to the gym is often out of the question. In those kinds of states, I can fully convince myself that if I attempted even a light jog, I would have a panic attack and die. Yes, seriously. So best just to stay in bed, right? Thankfully, I got into yoga – specifically Bikram yoga – when I was in a relatively good place. That made it slightly easier to drag myself back to yoga after months of feeling too weak, drained and frankly self-loathing to perform even the simplest of self-care acts. I’m still on my journey back to being a full on yogi (apologies in advance 😂) but yoga is now an important part of my mental health management and I truly feel that it can have the same power for many others struggling with similar challenges, and even those who are not! I especially find that yoga is an incredibly good antidote to anxiety. Of course, when it comes to mental health, our journeys are as personal and individual as the bodies we live in so this is entirely based on my own experience but hopefully sharing this will help someone find solace in yoga, and follow their calling to become one of those super annoying insta yogis #yogaeverydamnday

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B*tches Be Cray – My Mental Health Journey

If popular music and mainstream media are anything to go by, we all know that b*tches be cray. A throwaway phrase used to explain any behaviour displayed by one (usually female) human, that another does not – or does not care to – understand. But if we agree to ignore the distasteful and outdated language, there is an unfortunate truth in the phrase. Some b*tches really do be cray. And get this – some men be cray too! In fact, 1 in 4 of us – regardless of gender – will, at some point in our lives, be ‘cray’. Right now, I am one of the chosen ones.

I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety for around 5 years. Or at least, that’s how long it’s been since I had a diagnosis to explain what, to me, was just…well, me. Anyone who has both anxiety and depression will tell you that it’s like a constant tug of war, an evil juxtaposition. But more on that later. If my mental illness were to be shown in a pie chart, most of the time, it would look like this (10% depression, 90% anxiety). Anxiety is the real boss and depression just tries to creep in whenever life – and anxiety – has worn me down. Sneaky bastard. I recently came across this term, and an accompanying video on The Mighty, which really resonated with me, because it perfectly explains how I’ve felt for so long but never really known that other people felt it too. High functioning anxiety.

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