One Year as a Newly Qualified Nurse

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I recently hit a pretty big milestone; I managed to make it through a whole year as a qualified nurse (without losing my registration). That’s a joke but I can honestly say there’s not a day passes at work where I don’t panic about it. The past year has been a rollercoaster ride. Being a mental health nurse is filled with so many highs and lows and my brain usually feels like mush by the day of the end. It’s such a cliché but there’s truly nothing I’d rather be doing (except living in a campervan with two dogs). But there’s nothing I’d realistically rather be doing.

To mark the occasion I wanted to share just some of the things I’ve learnt in the last year.

  1. You realise quickly how little university prepared you for being a nurse.
  2. But on the other hand, you realise that uni put the fear of God into you about how ‘terrifying’ nursing is, when in reality, good organisation, a calm mentality and listening skills make up most of the job.
  3. You’re allowed to make mistakes – just own up to them immediately.
  4. Teamwork really does make the dream work.
  5. If you’re ever considering whether a patient needs their physical observations taking, then yes they do.
  6. Force yourself to do the things you are scared of. There will be shifts where you’re the only person qualified to do them.
  7. Listen to your healthcare assistants – they are the backbone of your ward/hospital/community service.
  8. Familiarise yourself with death, you will see it even if you think you don’t work in that environment.
  9. Learn your team’s strengths and weaknesses. “Oh you don’t deal with vomit? That’s great because I’m not good with spit.”
  10. Ask for help. There are no stupid questions. Nursing is about life long learning.
  11. Listen to patients, to relatives, to staff. Listen to everyone and listen actively.
  12. Find a pair of shoes that you can walk around in for 14 hours a day.
  13. Take your breaks. Nobody thinks you’re a superior nurse because you went a whole day without eating anything.
  14. Take every opportunity to learn something new.
  15. You’re going to feel like you’re not good enough approximately 5 million times a day. Even experienced nurses feel like this. It’s a good thing that means we want the best for our patients.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learnt from your job?

Rachel x-x-x


New Chapter

At the beginning of this year I was getting married, in two week’s time in fact. The date is burned into my brain. It was going to be an anniversary date to remember for the rest of my life.

And now, I’m not.

The date is simply going to fade into the oblivion of the other 364 days in the year.

A hard part of this whole experience is juggling other people’s expectations and opinions. When they hear that I’m not getting married anymore, they assume a relationship breakdown and that isn’t the case. We’re together and happy. Obviously I’m not going to go into the ins and outs but we’re just not getting married.  But of course everyone will have their opinions so I’ve just got really good at smiling, nodding and acting like I’m taking things on board when I’m actually thinking about what to have for dinner.

I’ve really been umming and ahhing over publishing this post for a number of reasons. In spite of my blog, I’m a really private person and I just wasn’t sure about putting this on the internet.

But in the end, I’ve decided yes, because the part I’ve found so difficult is comparing my life to everyone else’s. Through the filters of Instagram and the highlights reels we portray online, it can seem like everyone is living in a fairytale of Starbucks and cocktails. But that’s not real life and sometimes it’s important to share the bad parts too.

I have multiple friends getting married this year, and while that’s difficult in some ways, I’m also really happy for them. Their relationship isn’t mine and their lives aren’t mine and we’re all just taking different paths. But man is it hard to not compare yourself to everybody who is seemingly ‘moving on with their lives.’ But in the last couple of months I’ve taken a step back and seen that things are moving just fine with my life. I was just struggling to see that in the greyer days.

We’re a few months on now and things are significantly better. Learning not to compare yourself to others is a challenge and one that needs to be worked on. It won’t come overnight but it’s a lesson for life.

Rachel x-x-x



Why Is Looking After Your Mental Health Embarrassing?

My favourite section of any bookshop has long been the self-help section. I love reading books on wellness and mindfulness and anxiety, basically anything to do with improving your mental wellbeing. For a long time I was always a little nervous of heading into that quiet corner of the shop. What if someone saw the books I was looking at and wondered what was ‘wrong’ with me?

More recently I was sitting on the bus with a guided meditation app playing in my earphones when it suddenly occurred to me to make sure that the screen was off so that no one saw what app I was using. As someone who is quite happy to talk about their mental health, why do I feel so uncomfortable if people find out that I’m making a conscious effort to look after it?

We all have mental health, whether it’s good or bad. Some people can take care of theirs without much effort, some need a little more help, whether that’s through therapy or medication or self help books. And whilst I know there’s nothing embarrassing about that, there’s still some social stigma around people knowing that it’s effort for you.

No one would bat an eyelid over you stretching your legs to make an injury feel better or popping antacids for some indigestion, so why do we feel embarrassed about looking after our mental health?

Maybe some people find having a positive outlook easy but for me, it’s definitely something that I have to work on. I frequently overwork myself or don’t give myself enough credit and as a result I often overlook the positive aspects of my life in favour of the negatives. Over the past couple of years I’ve made a real effort to do everything I can to make sure that my mental health is just as good as my physical health is. I exercise regularly, I aim to get enough sleep every day, I have a mood tracker, I do yoga, I practice meditation, I set myself goals, I don’t drink too much alcohol (most of the time).

Whilst I talk about lots of those things on my blog, I would rarely tell anyone in ‘real life’ that I meditate or that I fill in a mood tracker every day. For me, on some levels, it does feel a little embarrassing that I need to make the effort. Surely everyone else doesn’t have to go to the same lengths to keep their mental health in peak condition.

But on reflection, looking after my mental health doesn’t feel so much different to looking after my physical health. When I go to the gym and eat well, I’m proud of myself. I’m proud for taking matters into my own hands, for working hard and for seeing results when I look in the mirror. When I look after my mental health, I should feel the same. But at the moment there’s definitely a wall there for me.

I hope that 2018 is the year that I can proudly tell people that I meditate because it makes me feel calmer, that I track my mood so that I can see if certain days, or times of the month are good or bad for me and that looking after my mental health isn’t something that comes as easily to me as my physical health.

Rachel x-x-x



Things No One Tells You About Meditation

When it comes to meditation, I am a mere newbie. Over the past few years I’ve come back to meditation time and time again with no success until more recently. Before I really put some effort into it I thought meditation was a load of rubbish. I just couldn’t see how sitting quietly was going to make me feel better. But miraculously it has helped, a lot.

I’ve told very few people that I meditate but those I have told, have given me some erm varying responses, such as

“It doesn’t do anything, you know.”

“Didn’t have you down as a hippie.”

And from my Mum:

“I always think it’s nice that you try new things.”

Generally people aren’t as nice as my Mum was so it’s usually met with a negative response that makes me sound as though I’ve just told someone I can levitate. After some research on the internet, it seems that there are a lot of misconceptions about meditation, so here are a few things that no one tells you about it.

It’s not like the movies

Meditation doesn’t always look like a Buddhist monk sat on top of a mountain chanting Om. You can do it anyway you find comfortable. Personally, I just plonk myself down on my yoga mat, either sitting on lying, whatever I fancy and breathe. Make sure you’re wearing something comfortable, because the last thing you want when you’re meditating is to be thinking about how tight the waistband of your jeans is.

It doesn’t take up loads of time.

I try to meditate for 10 minutes a day. This fits into my schedule and it’s not too time-consuming. I like to practice meditation after a workout or yoga practice, because I can just tack ten minutes on to the end of it. You can do it for longer if you have the time or shorter, depending on how long you have.

It’s hard to start with…

I am someone who really struggles to quieten my mind. It’s always whirring with thoughts and worries and I’m always thinking about the next thing that needs doing. Meditation is really hard to start with, because bringing your mind back to the present when it starts wandering isn’t something we do on a daily basis.

But it gets easier

The more you meditate, the easier it gets. The worries subside and it becomes so much easier to just focus on your breathing and appreciate your surroundings.

Have you ever tried meditation? Let me know in the comments! 

Rachel x-x-x



How To Be Alone

As an introvert, being alone is something I’m pretty skilled at. I love being alone, I crave it, and when I don’t get it, life feels pretty overwhelming. But not everyone feels that way. There seems to be a misconception that being alone equals loneliness when actually that is far from the truth.

Nowadays, alone time is rare. There’s always something to be doing or someone to meet up with, so getting some time alone is something that you need to make a priority, because being alone can be so beneficial. Even if you live with a partner or housemates, it’s important that you make time for yourself too.

You can think more clearly when you’re alone and you’ll be more productive as a result. It also gives you time for problem solving and deep thinking, and by understanding yourself better, your relationships will improve to.

But, for lots of people, spending time alone can be a challenge. Having spoken to some of my more extroverted friends, I’ve found that they hate being alone, and rarely go out and do anything by themselves.

I spend loads of time by myself and I love it, so whilst spending time with a group of people makes me feel incredibly nervous, doing things alone is just second nature to me.

So if you’re a person who struggles to spend time alone here are some ways that might help.

Understand why you always want to be around others

Some people just love social interaction and want to surround themselves with friends all the time. This is great, but make sure you’re not doing it purely because you don’t want to be alone. Being alone means time to think and that doesn’t appeal to everybody, because thinking too much can cause pain. But you also shouldn’t just be filling your time with seeing others as a way to avoid thinking.

(P.S. I’m not saying all extroverts are running from their thoughts!)

Start small

If you want to do more things on your own but aren’t sure where to start, then start small. Take yourself out shopping or for a coffee before moving onto some more daunting tasks like going to the cinema by yourself or for a meal. But, I promise that no one will think you’re weird for doing these things alone.

Embrace it

Alone time shouldn’t be scary. It’s the perfect excuse to do whatever you want with no judgement from anyone else. Get creative doing something you can’t usually do around your friends and you’ll soon find that you’re more focused on the activity than you are on being alone.


One thing I hate is when my boyfriend goes out for the whole day and I’m left with a huge expanse of time alone. Like I’ve said, I absolutely love being alone but when the person you spend the majority of your time with isn’t there for a period of time, it can feel pretty lonely. To combat this, I like to plan. I decide roughly what I’m going to do with my day, and make sure I’m not spending 8 hours feeling like I’m desperate for human contact.

Do you love alone time or can’t stand it? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x