18 May 2020
A picture of Lockdown and mental health – blog by Cherry Shagan

Cherry Shagan, project coordinator for Sanctuary Group, has been trying to put her mental health first during lockdown. In this blog she describes what it’s been like and how she’s been boosting her mental wellness:

I’m sat here working from my desk (formerly known as my dining room table) with the windows of my flat as wide open as possible.

As a Time to Change champion, and with an interest in mental health developed through university studies and volunteering at ChildLine, one of my biggest concerns has been around the impact lockdown is having on mental health. I’m proud to work for an organisation that recognises this and which has created spaces to share tips around wellbeing. It is just as important to recognise and celebrate good mental health, and acknowledge that everybody has mental health in the same way as physical health.

I find myself reaching out more to team members virtually and checking in. My job role was always meant to be flexible and able to work from home, but I chose to come into the office as I miss human connection (and the noise!). During a weekly check in with team members we spoke about ways to keep mentally well and I was asked to share some of my tips:

  1. Routine – I spent most of the first week working on my sofa, but then in the evening it just seemed like there was no cut off point between work and leisure time. I live in a one-bedroom flat so space is minimal, but I did convert the dining room table into a makeshift desk. When I finish working, my laptop and phone go away and are hidden. I make sure my lunch is at the time it usually is and have been attempting a workout too.
  2. Social media switch off – I try to limit the amount of social media time after 10pm. If I do use it then I make sure it’s looking at conversations non-lockdown related. I follow quite a few people on Twitter and have muted a few people whose timeline seems to only be about lockdown.
  3. Humour – one chat at ChildLine recently taught me the importance of humour and talking about ‘normal’ stuff. Talk about films you want to see or books you want to read. There is an awful lot of sadness out there and, whilst I wouldn’t dismiss it, like most things there must be a balance.
  4. Deadlines and tasks – lockdown is open ended and I have spoken a few times not just to work colleagues but also friends about setting a realistic task over a few days and putting a deadline on it. As I read recently, that isn’t about learning a new language or a new skill, it can just be about painting that one wall that you started about five years ago and have been staring at ever since…just one example. Or making that phone call to that friend who has been on your to call list for a month.
  5. Talk – emails are useful but if you have a choice between an email or a phone call, reach out and make that connection.

Take care all and if you need some help and support, reach out.