Happiness online – January round up



So its the end of January and the end of the first month of the happiness project.

My resolutions were –

Take my supplements each day – I often take supplements but sporadically. I think I never really take them for long enough to appreciate if they are doing the trick. I also take supplements when I’m feeling run down as a desperate sort of ‘I’ll try anything’ approach to make myself feel better. My current batch is gingseng, coenzyme Q10 and evening primrose oil.

Journal twice a week – this has been identified as something I need to do as part of my fellowship. I know it helps but struggle to get into it or make the effort to sit down and do it. I hoped that this resolution would help create that habit.

Sort the paperwork/shredding mountain in the kitchen (15 mins a day in the Flylady style) – my kitchen (well, most of my house) is a clutter magnet that depresses the life out of me.

Eat more healthily – I’m overweight again. I’m doing nothing to sort it. I need to.

Go to bed early one night a week – December was a bad month for sleep as Samuel was up too often having tantrums in the early hours. Steven works nights so its usually me sorting it out on my own. I then work all day and I constantly feel exhausted. I know that this problem is not going to be sorted overnight so a short term help would be for me to have one early night a week to try and increase the amount of sleep that I get.

What has worked well? How has it made you feel? 

Overall, I’m feeling really positive and that I have achieved what I wanted.  This month has been busy and difficult at times for all sorts of reasons. Although I’ve felt tired I haven’t been at the end of my tether stressed. I feel like I am coping better. I’m viewing the whole month overall as a success.

My biggest source of happiness was the removal of shredding mountain –

It has improved further since the second photo (I do not have the energy to go and take another photo at this precise moment). I think it is a feng shui thought that clutter can zap energy. Just sorting this corner has helped hugely. It wasn’t that difficult to do tackling it bit by bit and it has inspired me to move onto other problem areas.

I’m journalling more as well. I find it easier to just randomly jot down things through the day rather than have a concentrated official ‘I am journalling’ time. I like lists so can easily write a list about a problem eg. ‘why is this upsetting me?’ or ‘what can I do now to improve this?’ I’m keeping it simple so its not big or scary or hard.

Is there anything you’ve learned or would do differently?

Going to bed early does help but it needs me to be more proactive about doing it. I easily waste too many hours in the evening sitting online. I need to stick with this far more and make more of an effort.

The general resolution of ‘eat more healthily’ really amounted to nothing. We’re going on holiday soon and neither of us could be bothered to make the effort knowing that any loss now will be piled on once we go away. I found a photo of me at work on my 30th birthday – I was probably at my lowest weight then. I found it inspiring and I know I need to get back on track with my weight. Steven and I have agreed that once we’re home we are back to weekly weigh ins and point counting. General statements are not that helpful – I need to make it measurable and be accountable to make it work.

How do you feel this month has gone generally? Highs and lows of January outside of Happiness Online. 

Its been quite stressful. Lots of things are happening at work – not good things. The number of demands on my time are going up and I feel I have to split myself between my team, my clinical workload and my academic work. Somewhere in all of this I have to do a service improvement project and four 4,000 word essays. The first essay is due in March. I have no days available at work to do this between now and the hand in date. I’m dreading the next few months and am at a point where I may have to put Samuel into nursery on my days off to try and get some work done. Not a happy decision but really can’t work this one out at the moment.




Clutching at Straws

I feel like I’m really struggling with everything at the moment.

Far too much to do. Things going wrong left right and centre and I’m desperately trying to keep a calm level head in the middle of it all. A couple of people at work are trying to make a drama out of relatively minor things whilst being critical of those who are getting on with life despite difficult challenges being thrown at them. One person in particular loves to take someone else’s crisis and turn it into their own melodrama and she has been on top form this week. I’ve had a very strong desire to just shut myself in my office and hide.

I’m away next week on a fellowship module then on annual leave for the next two weeks. The following week brings another fellowship module. I’m going to be away from work for 4 weeks at a time when several fairly major things are kicking off and need sorting. I’m petrified of what I will return to and I’m risking it over shadowing my holiday. I’m missing team meeting and today wrote out everything that needs to be passed onto the team. The general theme was ‘I asked you to do x, I emailed you about x, I made a crib sheet showing how to do x, we frequently discuss the need to do x at team meeting. X is not being done. What do I have to do to make you do it?’

The desire to scream and then slap people can be quite overpowering at times.

I know I am again being a miserable tired moany person who probably needs a slap herself more than anyone.

So, a sad straw clutching exercise about the positives –

  • Finally replaced the rear bulb in my car after half an hour of swearing. I can now drive at night without the fear of being stopped by the police (Its been out for 3 weeks – I know I’m bad)
  • Took the cat to the vets yesterday for his boosters. This had also been on my list of jobs I didn’t have the energy to sort. He’s going into the cattery in two weeks and my conscience told me I had to get them done now. He had one manky tooth but our vet is very honest and said it wasn’t worth the money to get one tooth done. He’s got to go back in 6 months in the hope that the rest of his teeth are bad enough to justify cleaning them.
  • Got my new phone. I love it. Also feel very sad that I like to read the Guardian in bed at night.
  • Samuel no longer cries when I drop him off at nursery. Since changing nurseries in November he had been hysterical whenever I left him. I found this hard as he’d never cried when I left him at his previous nursery. Even though they told me he was fine within a few minutes of leaving him, it still always unnerved me.  I’m now going to work feeling happier about leaving him.
  • Someone from IT managed to get my VPN log in for my laptop fixed today after two weeks of dithering with service desk and BT.
  • I bought a new handbag from ebay for such a bargain price I feel guilty that I paid too little for it. I felt I was taking a risk but the bag was immaculate.



  • And most importantly…….13 sleeps until we go on holiday




Plodding along (not sure if its nicely though)

Had a strange week really.

Someone I work with was diagnosed with breast cancer last week. We are a very small team so we’ve all been upset about it. She is not that much older than me and we have daughters the same age. It’s one of those things that is very close to home and a little scary to contemplate. I am in awe of her strength and attitude in facing this. After the initial shock on Thursday, the atmosphere in the office has turned back to our usual dark and bizarre sense of humour. Definitely a moment of laughing so that we don’t cry.

In terms of work this has thrown up some issues for me. I’m scared my team will implode under the stress of a lack of staff whilst she is on sick leave. Its happened in the past and I am adamant it will not happen again. A major contributing factor is out of my hand though. There is another ongoing issue relating to long term sickness and human resources. It means that I am paying for a member of staff who is not currently at work and I cannot replace them. Months of attempting to get it resolved have amounted to nothing. On Friday I debated sending an email to someone in HR but didn’t as my frame of mind was likely to get me into trouble.  I am deeply concerned that another person on long term sick leave will mean we cannot function. We have run at capacity with no give for a year. Any sickness has a serious impact on the service we provide. I’m scared that we have now reached a tipping point and the fact that bureaucracy is at the heart of it makes me want to scream.

Steven’s grandad is very ill and we’re just waiting for a phone call. Things have been bad since yesterday and we’re feeling in limbo.  His grandad had made his wishes clear a couple of weeks ago and as a family we’re all at peace with the whole situation. I still worried about what the next few weeks will hold.

I’m still exhausted. Have got the sleepbot app to see how much sleep I actually get and whether the lack of sleep is all in my head. The theme of this months happiness project is vitality. I confess I’m not feeling more energetic but my tiredness is not stressing me so I’m taking that as an improvement.

January Happiness Project Update


I’m now halfway through the first month of the Happiness Project. Up until yesterday things had been going well. I’d had two really good weeks where I felt on top of things.  I’ve stuck to three of my resolutions really well but haven’t bothered with the healthy eating. I’ve eaten less rubbish but still not enough of the good stuff. I also haven’t gone to bed early.

Yesterday Steven came home from work early and at 6.30am announced that he hadn’t organised days off for my next fellowship module. When I knew I was going to be away I gave him all the dates I needed him to be off work and at home. This was in November. I’ve asked him more than once if it was all sorted and he told me yes. The next module is in 2 weeks and he hasn’t got any annual leave left. We’d talked about this possibility and we’d decided that Steven would work an extra night one week and take the extra day off another. He’d sorted this arrangement on Friday and told me that I need to take this Thursday off work. I can’t – I have an all day clinic that cannot be rearranged with 4 days notice. I was so angry.

My options were to cancel clinic (not an option) or put Samuel into nursery and Eloise into breakfast club (total cost = £61). When I was offered the fellowship place and saw the amount that I would have to be away from home I nearly turned it down. Steven told me I had to take the place and that we would sort out the childcare issues. Yesterday I felt that it was being left to me to sort out those issues.

Childcare is an issue that constantly rears its head and I get so frustrated that I cannot sort it easily. We do not have a vast amount of family support locally and with Steven working nights I feel I get little sleep.  I resent people who tell me how tough or tiring their lives are when they work far fewer hours than me, have a partner to share the nights with and have a grandparent on tap to take the children for a night just for the hell of it. For Steven and I to get a few hours one evening to just leave the house alone requires such planning or begging for babysitting we generally don’t bother. In the last year we probably went out 4 times alone. A night without the children forget it.

So yesterday I was very miserable and spent most of it shouting. This morning Samuel woke up at 4.30am as he fell out of bed. I spent an hour dealing with a tantrum then just as he had gone back to sleep Eloise and the cat woke up, started making a noise and woke him up again. I accepted defeat at 5.45am and we all came downstairs. I’m miserable, tired and thinking why do I bloody bother. I would just like a break. One night, no children and without the logistical nightmare of organising it or begging for favours here there and everywhere.

So I’m not happy but its only been a two day blip. I’m hoping I can improve things by this afternoon.

Can nursing be a tick-box exercise?

Nursing made the headlines this week and again it was not for good reasons.

It makes me sad that frequently nursing seems to be at the heart of what is wrong with the NHS. Widespread media reports worry me that nurses, as a profession are portrayed as uncaring and cannot be bothered to actually care for people. As someone who takes pride in their work and tries hard to ensure myself and my team deliver high quality of care, it worries me that these reports imply that we are all this bad. I’m not trying to deny that poor standards exist or say that improvements are not needed.

My trust has a mission statement based on the NHS Constitution.  At a recent trust event we were asked in groups to discuss this mission statement and if it had the correct focus for our organisation. The feeling amongst my group was that it is a tokenistic gesture that doesn’t actually have any relevance for us as practitioners. I was very taken aback by this. The pledges made in the mission statement relate directly to the poor standards of care that are reflected in the frequent reports of public outcry. The discussion group comprised of all professional groups, not just nurses. It left me wondering whose agenda are we working to? As health professionals are we not bothering to take notice of the basics that are fundamentally important to out patients? Have we lost sight of what is important in healthcare?

Combining this attitude with the concern over standards of nursing it made me wonder who is responsible for this? Is it due to a minority of individual nurses who are in the profession for the wrong reasons? I suspect that the problem is far greater than a few people and that the overall problem is partly due to culture than personal attitude. Is nurse education that bad that it does not cover the basics of caring? As someone who was a followed a degree programme for initial registration, I was frequently told by others that I wasn’t interested in nursing, I wanted to be a manager. Their presumptions could not be further from the truth. I’ve watched the diploma v degree debate with interest and am saddened that many nurses view degrees as a bad thing purely on the basis that they believe degree courses are only capable of creating managers. Is there a lack of nurse leadership or representations on trust boards? Staffing issues are nearly always the main excuse for poor care – why are these not addressed more fully? Realistically I feel that all of these factors contribute towards the situations that we regularly find are occurring with the NHS.

As part of my next fellowship module I’ve been reading the report into the Mid Staffordshire enquiry. The report was more interesting than I had expected. It also made me realise the point behind many of the activities we regularly have to carry out at work.  Audit is an example of this. I confess I find regular audits at work a bind and a pain to complete. The  report made me consider what potentially could happen in the absence of an audit structure. At Mid Staffordshire audits were not carried out. The trust relied entirely on external inspections and did not monitor standards in between these visits.

This week at work I started regular group clinical supervision sessions for the team. Prior to this we had not formally completed clinical supervision but it is required by our trust in a new policy. Yesterday we mentioned to a visiting rep about our session that day and she sighed and said ‘Oh, another tick you have to put in a box for the sake of it.’ This made me wonder – is this reducing nursing to a tick-box exercise? Again, viewing this in the context of Mid Staffordshire, what would the alternative be in the absence of clinical supervision?

Whilst audit and supervision may seem like a pain at the time, their purpose is ultimately important. I’m lucky to work in a good team where we are open, able to raise issues and safely challenge or seek help when a problem arises. If a work culture is not that supportive though, the importance and value such activities would increase. Staff, and more importantly patients, need a mechanism that regularly ensures standards are acceptable and improved upon. Professionals need a forum where they can raise concerns rather than accepting them and becoming caught up in a culture of poor care.

David Cameron’s answer to poor nursing care this week was an hourly ward round carried out my nurses to ensure standards. I’m not convinced that this is the answer. I feel nurses will view it as yet another box to tick without considering its purpose. I feel it would be more beneficial to explain the reasons behind completing audits rather than adding more forms to the pile.

I do feel nursing has lost sight of what is important to our patients. The basic rights discussed in the NHS Constitution may seem trivial to professionals but are fundamental to those we care for. Until that difference in perspective is acknowledged the complaints will continue.