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Dr. Yvette Ankrah: “Let it go”

Let it go. Understanding that we cannot control every aspect of our lives and being able to let go of what we cannot control is an important lesson. That doesn’t mean that we are without power. Our power lies in what we have control over, which includes our emotions, our thoughts and our behaviours. We […]

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Let it go. Understanding that we cannot control every aspect of our lives and being able to let go of what we cannot control is an important lesson. That doesn’t mean that we are without power. Our power lies in what we have control over, which includes our emotions, our thoughts and our behaviours. We can choose how we respond and what we will engage with to protect our energy.

When we first went into a national lockdown, remembering this came in very handy — Looking at what was possible, what media I engaged with, what content I chose to put out and my decision to support as many people as I could by sharing my knowledge about stress, overwhelm and burnout.


As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr Yvette Ankrah MBE.

Dr Yvette Ankrah MBE is a transformational business coach, consultant and recovering overachiever! She works with high achieving female leaders and business owners to get success without the burnout. She has over 20 years of business experience and is an accredited NLP and Performance coach with a PhD in sociology.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?

Wellbeing is something I have been interested in for a long time. I have engaged in coaching and wellbeing courses for over 20 years, as part of my own personal development, long before I considered being a coach. I decided to bring it front and centre to my business. To start talking about self-care and well-being and sharing my own journey from chronic illness to wellness.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I received an MBE for my campaigning work to get more support for women in business in the UK. An MBE is an honour given to citizens from the Queen for their contribution to society. I received a phone call from a Government office and I accidentally deleted the message! I thought it was about something completely different. When I received an email, I thought it was a joke and did not consider it to be real, until I spoke to the sender of the email. You have to keep the award secret until it’s formally announced, and it can be a while between being told and then actually receiving the award at Buckingham Palace. On the day of receiving my MBE we were stuck behind the changing of the guard and I had to jump out of the car run all the way to the Palace in heels and my outfit to make sure I arrived on time.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

I began my career as a journalist and had the pleasure of interviewing authors who went on to become well known in that field. One of them was a writer called Andrea Levy who had written a book called Every Light in the house burning. In my notes I’d shortened the title, and this ended up in the final article. She called me up to tell me off — I was mortified but I learned to always double check my work and not take shortcuts!

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

I spend a lot of time speaking about stress and burnout to a range of audiences. I don’t just share theory I shared my lived experience. I talk about self-care in particular as it is a tool that can change your wellbeing. I was diagnosed with the chronic condition fibromyalgia following a year of tests, after I collapsed at home. At the time I was running a women’s networking group, my coaching practise, I was in the middle of my PhD and looking after a toddler. I’m someone who has always burned the candle at both ends and in the middle! I was a chronic over achiever and believed that the only way to achieve success was by burning myself into the ground.

For most of my career, my idea of self-care was enjoying the odd spa day or weekend away. I’d already experienced burnout in my Corporate career, but what I’d done was change careers, I never changed my habits or behaviours.

Even after receiving my diagnosis I continued to fight instead of considering what my body might be trying to tell me. I’ve had lots of signs and signals that something wasn’t quite right, but I’d ignore them until I couldn’t ignore them anymore.

I just ran my life around my chronic illness rather than considering how I could change my habits and behaviours and work in a different way. I only truly made a change after yet another hospital admission, this time including a very painful procedure which left me unable to move for weeks. I was then ready to tackle the internal work and I trained in NLP. During that training I had a huge breakthrough and no longer experienced any issues relating to fibromyalgia.

I am on a mission to stop people burning out, particularly women who are more susceptible to stress. I hear it and see it so often with high performing women and I want them to know that there is another way to achieve the success they desire without burning out.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There is an African proverb that I like to quote — “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.”

There have been many people who have supported me along the way. And I am still surrounded by uplifting people who help me to grow. I also come from a long line of strong, dynamic women!

However, when I was young, I used to play music and my music teacher took us all around London to play in venues such as the Royal Albert Hall. I was quite a precocious child and I’d find myself in environments where I didn’t feel I belonged. It was quite daunting. That music teacher let me know that I could walk into any space and have a right to be there and hold that space. He regularly pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me see that I was capable of more than I believed. Gerald Forsythe OBE was a brilliant man who never knew how much of an influence he had on me and the confidence he helped me to find

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

Beliefs — we all hold certain beliefs that we have picked up from caregivers and internalised from experiences along the way. That doesn’t mean that our beliefs are true. However, these can stop us putting healthy habits into practise. For example, you may have been told to always clear your plate as a child, because children that didn’t do that were seen as wasteful. You can then easily turn that into a habit of how you relate to food.

The language we use — how we think about and speak about the changes can have a huge impact on how we relate to them. Nobody wants to give up anything or to lose it. So, what do you think happens when you start talking about losing weight?! It is much better to phrase things in terms of what you will gain, e.g. Lower blood pressure means less chance of having diabetes

Not being connected to your ‘why’ — why is it important for you to cultivate this new habit or behaviour? Staying on the theme of weight loss, being able to fit into that little black dress may not be enough of a motivation for you. It needs to be deeper and more connected so you’ll be more motivated to keep going

Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)

Practice gratitude

This is the biggest game changer for your emotional well-being. Not only is it scientifically proven to change the connections within your brain, you will quickly see the changes in your day-to-day life. It helps shape your perceptions and changes how you view life. My car broke down outside of my house and I called the vehicle recovery company for support, who said that they were concerned that I had a major issue with my engine. The car got towed to the garage and was worked on. My response to this major inconvenience was this: I was grateful that my car broke down outside of my house so that my child and I were safe, I was glad that any fault found was going to be repaired and I was thankful that I had support in place to do this. I can say that that would not have been my response before I began practising gratitude on a daily basis!

Use your breath

We have the ability to change our state and our energy by simply using our breath. Most people are not conscious of their breath and the power that they have within them. Whilst there are a variety of breath techniques, one of the simplest things that you can do if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed is to focus on your breathing. Just doing this for two minutes will regulate your body and enable you to think.

As you breathe in, focus on the expansion of your body, the feel of the air as it goes in, the temperature of the air and as you breathe out notice how your body contracts, how it feels as the air leaves you and notice how your body feels as you do this. A simple but powerful tool.

Drink water

Most adults are dehydrated and for quick pick me ups we often turn to caffeine. However, water is better to lift you up as it supports brain and muscle function.

When we’re dehydrated, it affects our attention, memory, and mood. Our brain is made up of 75% water and as soon as we are dehydrated, it slows down the blood flow to the brain and the amount of oxygen that the brain can take in.

Sipping water throughout the day will help your cognition and the well-being of your body

Let it go

Understanding that we cannot control every aspect of our lives and being able to let go of what we cannot control is an important lesson. That doesn’t mean that we are without power. Our power lies in what we have control over, which includes our emotions, our thoughts and our behaviours. We can choose how we respond and what we will engage with to protect our energy.

When we first went into a national lockdown, remembering this came in very handy — Looking at what was possible, what media I engaged with, what content I chose to put out and my decision to support as many people as I could by sharing my knowledge about stress, overwhelm and burnout.

Write a self-care plan

Taking time to address your needs, see what’s working well and what needs improvement will enable you to find ways to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally and physically. You can create routines that help you make new habits and change your behaviours.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Eliminating hustle culture — it’s a recipe for burnout and makes people believe that they’re not good enough, unless they are working themselves to the point of exhaustion. It also destroys self-esteem and self-belief, not to mention increasing stress, anxiety and of course burnout. It is inferred that everybody is working from a level playing field, but they are not.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou

As a young teenager I supported children who had been bullied in my school — I learnt then how important this quote was and still is. I’ve applied it to everything from events, to training and coaching.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Brenḗ Brown would be my choice right now. As an academic I love how she makes her work accessible and enables so many to be engaged in her research. She has a great presence on stage and great energy.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Connect with me on LinkedIn or Instagram

https://www.linkedin.com/in/yvetteankrah
https://www.instagram.com/yvette.ankrah

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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