This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and here, communications officer & PA, Sarah Topping talks about what she is doing to keep herself busy and protect her mental health during lockdown.

“When the Government announced the lockdown, I’ll be honest, I didn’t know how I would cope. I was in isolation for seven days before the lockdown was announced, and at first, I didn’t mind it – I would even go as far as to say that I quite enjoyed it. However, by the end of the week the days started to feel long, and it started getting to me. I live on my own in a flat with no outside space and I’ve suffered with depression, so I knew this would be a challenge.

Lockdown has given me time to realise how grateful I am for everything I have in life, in particular, my friends and family; I’ve realised how much I need them and how much of a sociable person I am. Being on my own is so hard, but I recognise that I’m so lucky to not be on the frontline and at risk as so many people are. In some ways, I quite like that life has slowed down so much, I will certainly take things much less for granted when this is all over.

The hardest thing for me, and I think so many other people, is that they’re not able to see their loved ones. For me, I really miss my nieces and friends’ children who I adore – just to be able to give them a hug is something I feel we have all taken for granted and I can’t wait to see them in person.

I am someone who needs to keep themselves busy, and I know it also helps my mental health, so I’m very glad to still be working. I have been making the most of the hour of exercise a day and have even started going for bike rides, something I haven’t done for years. I also started sewing last year and I’ve been making rainbow hearts for friends and family to display in their windows in support of key workers, as well as this, through a local craft club, I have been making uniform bags for NHS workers so after a shift they can put them straight in the washing machine and not transfer the virus. I also started decorating, but unfortunately this has been put on hold since I sliced my finger whilst sewing!

As well as doing these things, I have also found that podcasts have really helped me through this time; I have a few regular ones that I listen to and love, I always listen to them on walks and they make the time pass quicker. I also listen to a lot of music and read a lot of books, I love reading and I find that in the evening it helps me to wind down far better than my phone does!

For me, I have found that getting out, keeping busy and not consuming myself with the news or social media has really helped. You can get so caught up in it all and sometimes the reports are incorrect, and can cause people to worry more than they need to – I try to take everyday as it comes and also use this time as well as I can. But also, I think it’s important to not be too hard on yourself – especially if you’re struggling, you’d be amazed to know how many people are. Some people don’t like to ask for help (me included) but I put a post on LinkedIn about struggling and I was amazed by how many people reached out to me – that kind of community feel really helped me. Do what you need to do to get through this time and try to look out for people around you who might also need help.”


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