Chef, three-times bestselling author, businesswoman, restaurateur and soon-to-be first-time mum, Jasmine Hemsley, is one of Britain’s hardest working people in the wellness world. She’s also one of the loveliest and the most down to earth, proving having a whopping 115k followers on Instagram does not equate to a big ego.
As this weekend saw World Mental Health Day take place, we sat down with the Londoner to talk life during lockdown and how the pandemic has had an affect on her wellbeing. From the sound baths that got her through to adjusting to a ‘new normal’ and her delightful baby news, here’s what she had to say…
What were your last positive memories before lockdown kicked in back in March?
At the beginning of the year I celebrated my 40th birthday with a good friend with a big joint party at The Standard in Kings Cross. I hadn’t had a party in about 15 years and it was a chance encounter with said friend at my café in Selfridges and her asking if we should celebrate it together that made me do it! Otherwise I tend to have a quiet adventure with my other half somewhere out of town and a little dinner with friends.
A month or so after the party, I launched my first sustainable dress collab with Needle & Thread (which was 18 months in the making) and we managed to pull off a launch dinner a 12 days before lockdown — it was my last social outing, and a proud moment where I went out with a bang!
What have y0u found tough this year?
Lockdown was a huge shock. So many friends in the hospitality industry have not been so lucky. Incredible restaurants, hotels and food concepts have been dashed during this time, and with hospitality being the third biggest employment industry in the country, especially for young people, it’s heartbreaking.
What has this year made you grateful for?
My fiance Nick and I were grateful to be at home with our dogs and as we watched our plans for the year crumble, we spent our spare time getting resourceful and resurrecting a veg patch. It cleared our heads, slowed us down and gave us the connection we needed to the planet at a time when it’s all so shaky. A few months into lockdown we found out we were expecting a child and we felt so much hope for the future.
How has 2020 changed your relationships to those closest to you?
Nick and I have always tended to be homebodies, but during this time we’ve really embraced it. Slowing down has really helped us to learn to celebrate the positives, no matter how small, which puts negatives firmly into perspective. I dearly miss my wider circle of friends and acquaintances, but have also loved finding more quiet and finding ways to connect with friends and family more intimately through virtual quiz nights, socially distanced walks in the woods and picnics. I’ve been loving long phone calls rather than quick texts and finding ways to help each other out and support.
How did you adapt to changes in your work?
When it came to work we had to be creative — something that no longer rushing around and being drawn into the hectic pace of London life has afforded us — and while we’ve nearly always approached business with what we are passionate about rather than what is lucrative, we believe even more so now that this reaps mental and physical rewards. This year has highlighted how “change is the only constant,” how the best laid plans can change and how to be flexible and find strength in it.
What’s been the biggest challenge in terms of your mental wellbeing througout the pandemic?
Structuring my day — although working from home has long been the norm for me, the general “lockdown vibe” of things and naturally slowing down made it all the harder to plan a routine and outline for my day.
Quite early on during lockdown, I started hosting my “Lunch Break Soundscape” sessions: 15 to 20-minute crystal sound bath sessions on Instagram Live. It felt like an opportunity to help others (and myself) take a small break in the day for themselves, something I know a lot of people found difficult when they were taking on the multiple roles of parent, teacher, cleaner, cook, etc. all under one roof… It helped give me a purpose too, building a routine and creating a beautiful space in my home because I needed to be there in front of the camera at 12:15p.m, every weekday. I’m still hosting them now too.
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What advice would you give to others to navigate the strange times we’re living through?
If there was ever a practice that could help you in every area of your life, from the physical and the mental to the spiritual and emotional to the creative and the intellectual, I would say it’s meditation. This isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea and there are meditative practices that are more appealing and suitable for those who can’t begin to imagine “switching off,” such as sound baths, manifestation/intention-setting worksheets, etc., all of which I find immensely helpful to keep the balance and be more proactive than reactive, while also going with the flow of what life throws at me.
This year has highlighted how “change is the only constant,” how the best laid plans can change and how to be flexible and find strength in it.
The simple act of meditating twice a day where possible helps me be a better me — for both my own sake and others’! It makes me more efficient and decisive and less scared to change course when I need to. I practise Vedic meditation and am very grateful for my teachers just being a text away to help inspire and motivate me. For those in Sydney, check out my dear teacher Gary Gorrow, in LA and NY my good friend Susan Chen, and for those in London my friends Jillian Lavender and her husband Michael Miller at the London Meditation Centre.
Finally, what’s kept you going and staying positive?
My sound baths, my partner Nick and my dogs, gardening, meditation, my local park and my best friends who thankfully live local to me. Also WhatsApp groups that kept me connected to friends and family — I am grateful for all!