A FORMER footballer who was paralysed in a freak accident and defied the odds to walk again has shared advice on maintaining positive mental health while in isolation.

Sean Bailey's neck was crushed by the weight of an opponent while he was playing for Newton side Vulcan FC in 2005 and he had a six-hour operation during which he had a metal rod inserted to repair his dislocated neck and damaged spine.

Battling Sean defied the odds to walk again. Despite his playing days being ended, he focused on coaching and set up the Manchester United deaf team.

St Helens Star:

Sean in hospital after his injury

Sean has been involved with football for people with cerebral palsy and launched Cerebral Palsy United, in Manchester, who enjoyed great success.

In 2017 he was named the North West's sporting unsung hero at the Sports Personality of the Year awards.

Sean has since created a wellness consultancy, delivering education on lots of things from mental health first aid to sleep workshops both publicly and in the corporate world.

With the testing times of the conoravirus pandemic, Sean has shared advice for residents to help maintain positive mental health:

We are undoubtedly in extremely challenging times, COVID19 is truly testing the resilience of every single person in the nation. Never before have we seen disruption to our lives on this scale and this is going to challenge our mental health in many ways.

The stress of obtaining food to support yourself and your family, the anxiety created by the uncertainty of the ever-changing situation, the loneliness created by being within isolation are deeply challenging scenarios but this our current reality.

These scenarios and others will challenge your mental wellbeing on very different levels but being in isolation for a sustained period could present the greatest challenge of all. Why? Because we as a nation have never had this level of restriction on our lives before.

Every one of us can rise to this challenge and protect our own mental health whilst supporting the mental health of those around us. These simple interventions can really make a difference and they are absolutely within our control.

Day light exposure

Getting day light exposure is key for our circadian biology. Circadian biology is more commonly known as your body clock, it is the release of many hormones that will affect mental and physical health. One of the most important hormones under the control of our body clock is melatonin which is crucial for a good night’s sleep; sleep is one of the most important tools in sustaining positive mental wellbeing.

If you are in isolation, a simple way to get more day light exposure is sitting much closer to a window during day light hours.


Exercise whilst in complete isolation can be difficult but it is crucial in maintaining positive mental and physical wellbeing. There are many ways we can overcome this obstacle; equipment free bodyweight workouts, digital yoga sessions are two excellent and effective methods of exercise, they are readily available online and can be done anywhere with any effort level


What we eat affects how we feel. Controlling what we eat now more than ever is of the upmost importance. Food availability has limits so we must be wise with choices. Avoiding highly processed foods and replacing them with whole foods will maintain positive mental wellbeing.

Try to get more beans and legumes into your daily meals, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils are all very cheap options, are very long lasting and can be added to most dishes, they are also great for gut health which in turn benefits mental health.


Mindfulness is bringing your attention to the current moment, it can be practised anywhere for as long as you like. You can observe mindfulness whilst making a cup of tea in the morning by bringing your thoughts, focus and breath to the immediate moment. The effect it can have on your mental wellbeing can be very powerful as breath is one of primary drivers of your nervous system.

A simple effective exercise to stimulate being mindful is box breathing which is observed by breathing in for 3 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, breath out for 3 seconds and hold for 3 seconds and repeat.

Small consistent steps are robust ways of securing our mental wellbeing. Try to find what your steps are to make you feel healthier and happier, by consistently applying them during periods of isolation should lessen the effects of the current situation.