“We’ve been through a tough time – it’s ok to not be ok”

Staff nurse Katy Maughan explains how she has coped with the stress of the past 18 months of the pandemic - by taking up a range of outdoor activities and fitness challenges organised by her fellow nurse Fior Sayer.

Here she explains how they have helped her mental health:

“Last year I started a new role, moving from the hospital into the community in January 2020, then as you know the pandemic hit!

Work was challenging due to limited staff, fear of catching virus and potentially bringing it home to your family and, for me, my son has health problems so we were very fearful.

Last year, after the care home I support was hit hard with covid, I developed anxiety. I could be sitting fine one minute then crying the next. It was awful. I saw Fior posting on Facebook about being outdoors, have a walk it will help. She may not realise but her posts were a huge support for me to keep going but also gave me coping mechanisms to deal with the stress and anxiety I was facing.

Fior then started the wellbeing days, knowing how beneficial she found them. Fior is the most kind, selfless person I know. My first session was the family day at the beach, after such a long time being away from people it was lovely to be outdoors enjoying the lovely weather and catching up with others, this was also my introduction to paddle boarding and we loved it! Actually went home and purchased one for ourselves, with three teenagers I also felt it would be a great hobby to keep them off the streets and hanging out with me.

Fior has helped me more than she will ever know. Not only have all of her activities been excellent for my mental health, I’m also feeling physically in better shape being outdoors and its brought me closer to my children having a fun activity to do together.

Scafell Pike was a huge challenge and Fior actually believed in me that I could do it and it was by far the hardest thing I have done but the most rewarding achievement. I have had a number of fractured ankles so the rocky terrain was very challenging. Fior supported the team throughout the day with words of encouragement.

The weather was beautiful on the walk up too, amazing views. Fior even got herself in the fresh spring to fill up peoples water bottles.

At the top of the peak we got photos and Fior congratulated me telling me how proud she was I had done it, even at 37 years old it’s lovely to have someone believe in you and be proud of your achievements.

I honestly believe without these sessions I most likely would have been on the sick and potentially started on antidepressants! But I’m in such a good place and it is all thanks to Fior and her support.

I can’t wait for the next activity I am able to attend whether that be staff only or family event.

She has inspired me to climb ben nevis so we are doing it before I hit 40! I would never have thought it possible for me but I’m so determined and its all because of her kind words and believing I can do it.

It’s important for nurses to know that it’s ok to not be ok, to get the help they need. We all have really been through a tough time.”