Hey Jamie! How are you (really) doing today?
I'm doing really well thanks, a little tired as I'm two months into having a new puppy and work has been extremely busy, so I'm looking forward to taking some good time off for myself.
You're such a great advocate for mental health - particularly breaking down stigma around male vulnerability. Have these kind of conversations always been important to you, or did something happen to shift your perspective?
I've always been fascinated by the mind but I've definitely not always been this open about my mental health or involved in the conversation. I struggled with depression, anxiety and panic attacks for a lot of my late teens and early 20s, and it was these experiences (and those of people around me) that really made me want to get involved.
The conversation around mental health seems to have progressed a great deal in the last few years - but there's still work to do. Where do you think we are with mental health stigma today, and what do you think are the most important things to tackle?
In terms of the stigma, we have come such a long way, which in my mind is 99% a good thing. The 1% part that I see as needing work, is that because the conversation is so widely had now, there's a huge wealth of information (and misinformation) out there that can lead people down the wrong path. Secondly, access to mental health support on a public level is severely underfunded and lacking in other areas. Not everyone has the ability to pay for mental health support and the public health waitlists are too long.
When you're not interviewing wonderful people for your podcast and hanging out in the MindLabs studio, you're a breathwork coach. Can you tell us a bit about what that means?
It means I really haven't put my economics degree to good use! Beyond that, it means that I work with individuals, groups and businesses to show them how they can tap into the power of their breath to improve their physical, mental and emotional health. The breath is so simple, yet has the ability to shift our nervous system and give us access to altered states of conscious, to name a few!
The breath is so simple, yet has the ability to shift our nervous system and give us access to altered states of consciousness.
How did you first discover breathwork, and how has it impacted your life personally?
I was on a bit of a mission to find something that would help with my anxiety and tried a lot of different options! I got very into yoga and primal movement at a studio in Fulham where they also offered breathwork. I was pretty sceptical at first but I stuck with it and it changed my life completely. I've had some mind-bending and mind-blowing experiences in deep transformational style breathwork sessions that really allowed me to move through a lot of my own struggles. On a more day to day basis, getting into breathwork gave me back a sense of agency that I had lost through my anxiety. Anxiety made me feel so passive to my triggers and thoughts, and breathwork gave me a way to take back a level of control.
Are there any other practices that you do regularly to help stay on top of your mental health?
I'm a big fan of meditation personally. It's a staple of my morning routine and I try where possible to do it every day. It's been a big help for me in terms of creating some mental clarity and I often find it has a big impact on my creativity and focus too.
You were one of our first MindLabs instructors - and your classes are some of our most popular on the app. But I'd love to know: which are your favourite classes and why? (Excluding your own, of course!)
A great question, it's a tough one for sure! It's been so amazing to see all the amazing instructors coming on board. Personally, I love the live Deep Meditation classes with Anne-Sophie and of course I can't forget my good pal Richie Bostock, who was actually the first person I experienced breathwork with.
Have you had much personal experience with meditation and mindfulness apps in the past, and what do you think makes MindLabs different?
I've used a lot of the mainstream apps in the past and have enjoyed them, but struggled to stay engaged over time. I think from my perspective, MindLabs solves a lot if the issues that those apps miss, through the live and video-based content. It brings a whole new element to a wellness app that hopefully allows people to build more of a rapport with the instructor and as a result, increase their chances of building a long-lasting habit.
You can watch Jamie's classes on the MindLabs app, now available to download from the App Store.