“For me, lockdown has had a positive impact on my own mental health. It’s given me time to look at my own wellbeing needs and what I can do to improve things.

“I’ll be honest, I generally thought my mental health was good. At the start of lockdown, when we became homebased, I decided to walk every morning with my husband and the dog. What should have been a leisurely walk turned into something I didn’t realise I needed.

“With every walk I wanted to go a little further and walk more steps. Quickly I noticed how this was improving my wellbeing. It’s really hard to describe exactly how it made me feel, but there is nothing better than a sunny walk first thing in the morning where you would hardly see another soul, it’s extremely calming.

“Living and working from home wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Working from home is completely different to being at home during a pandemic and working - I needed to define that and make sure I had a balance, as I’m sure I’m not the only one who was spending more time in front of a laptop.

“In April I’d completely surprised myself – we had walked 174km! Who would have thought a walk every morning could be so good and make you feel alive!

“My mind was clear and ready to start each day a fresh, that time was ‘me time’ time to blow the cobwebs away and feel recharged for whatever today was going to throw at me.

“As we went into May I set myself a goal to walk 200km and enjoyed every walk we did, I’d become addicted to them and I could see the benefits this was having on me during these unprecedented times. By the end of May I had achieved my goal and had walked 220km 😄 the downside to this was I also gained five huge blisters – YUK!

“Unfortunately, in June things changed and as a result of an injury I ended up on crutches for six weeks unable to walk – this for me was a huge disappointment.

“I had gone from managing to walk every day to not leaving the house, the positive impact the last few months had given me was disappearing, I felt as if I’d lost my sense of purpose.

“I was starting to feel the impact of working from home, not really sleeping properly and having no defined work/home time, not being able to leave home meant I was on a hamster wheel. It was a case of I would get up, get dressed and go downstairs to work. It was almost eat, sleep, work, repeat for days at a time.

“It was during this time I discovered it’s ok not to be ok – thankfully my line manager and the team I work within all offered full support and encouragement. On the days I felt low they reminded me of how far I had come and what I had achieved to date, this kept me going to a certain extent as I so wanted to be back walking in the early morning air.

“Even though my mental health had taken a nose dive I was determined to get back to where I was. I need to take charge of the hamster wheel and stop it whenever I felt necessary. This meant retraining myself to take breaks away from the laptop. I started to walk around the garden at lunchtime just to get some fresh air – although manoeuvring with crutches wasn’t easy to start with.  

“I’m happy to say I’m now back walking – not as far as I was thanks to a stupid injury but I’m walking! I have once again started to see the positive impact this has on my own well-being, my family have also notice the change in my moods and how I manage through the working day.

“Walking doesn’t have to be a chore like I thought it was before I started this experience, I look forward to every walk I do, I take time to reflect on how I felt at the beginning of lockdown the highs I’d experienced and the positivity, but I now also appreciate the lows and how this also had a huge impact on my work/life balance.

“For me The biggest thing to come out of lockdown is it’s ok not to be ok. Every member of staff throughout CTSEW should know that they can say this, that there should be no repercussions from saying this and that the organisation will support them through this.

“NO ONE should be afraid to say they are struggling, or that they are having a low day, you’ll be surprised how many people are experiencing the same feelings and how we can support each other.

“I will always have this in the back of my mind. If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan BUT never the goal.”