Delving into my childhood whilst writing my story

As you will remember I have been writing my story, to help me make sense of myself as I get older and leave a legacy for my children.

Regular readers will also remember that over recent weeks I have been struggling with January blues. In fact according to the media this week is the week where people feel their lowest, and Monday was labelled Blue Monday. As you will remember exercise has helped chase away those blues, but this week those blues have been harder to chase away, so I decided to jump back into my story.

I have been delving into my memory banks, bank to when I was a toddler, like my memories of making Christmas decorations, going cockle picking with dad and my uncle George and auntie Sheila. That made me smile, in fact it gave me warm feeling. A feeling of love and happiness. Now my childhood was by no means perfect but there was a lot of love. That love has helped me chase those blues a little further away.

Restorative powers of exercise

Since completing the 50km challenge in Movember I have done very little exercise.

I have noticed that this has had a detrimental effect on my mental health. My resilience had been much reduced. Foggy has become a regular companion on my commute to work and he has hung about filling my heads with negative thoughts.

Now couple that with the self imposed need to appear positive and happy to everyone. This had been exacerbated during December with starting a new role and it being Christmas. To me that meant that I must be positive at all costs and not show any frailty. Trying to be unerringly optimistic when you actually think you are a useless piece of shit is quite exhausting. I had a couple brief runs but never really sustained it.

Trying to break the viscous cycle is not always easy, and it is all too easy to find reasons why you can’t break that cycle of self pity and feeling so low. The thing is when you find the right excuse, you start to feel guilty which confirms your self-loathing.

This weekend I decided to give it a go again. I went for a short 1 mile run on Saturday. The feeling it produced was quite profound. As I started to plan how I was going to return to running up to 5km again. I could now see that the feelings I was experiencing are transient. I went for another 1 mile run today with a plan to run a further 5 miles over the next week, then slowly increase the distance I run in one go. I started giving myself the opportunity to succeed rather than fail. I feel so much more positive.

Now during the runs I felt like my lungs were going to explode, and Christmas really had taken its toll. But very soon after the runs I felt incredible. The feelings exercise evoke are quite amazing. I feel so much more positive, the anxiety in the pit of my stomach is going and so is the tension in my jaw. I feel happy again.

If you are feeling blue, or useless, or cannot see anything positive in your life, then consider exercise, it is remarkable. I know that all I have to do to pick up my mood is go for a run. It makes me feel safe again.

Unashamedly Proud Dad and fan

On 2nd January 2018 saw me and Lisa at the Sesh in The Polar Bear, Hull watching our eldest son play bass with Vialetters.

Now this is the third gig we have seen them and only the 4th they have played.

What a triumph it was. Easily the best gig they have played. They grabbed the attention of the crowd with their new indie pop anthems Dopamine and We Found a Dog. It was as if they had been gigging for years.

They played 7 songs in total and had the crowd buzzing throughout. The host of the evening was rightfully gushing about their performance. Look out for Vialetters in 2018, definitely a band to watch. I know I’m biased but all those in the crowd cannot be wrong.

Check out their new song on sound cloud.

Dopamine- Vialetters

My story is starting to take shape again!

After a few stuttering starts I am finally back on track writing my story.

I have wanted to write a book for years, but never really had the confidence. Then last year you may remember that I started with a mind map or several on paper. Then it sort of got stuck there as I got bogged down with detail of the mind map and lost my confidence.

Then just before Christmas I decided to give it a go again. I transferred the work I did onto an electronic mind map with much less detail.

I finished this map yesterday. This time I decided to write an overview of my story using the map as a reference point to develop the story.

I started writing up the overview this evening using google docs. As it gives me the flexibility to write when the feeling grabs me, and I can then go back to the map to remind me of any details I may forget.

Now I know I may falter again, I also know that I can adapt my approach and go again if it becomes a struggle again. My reason to write is stronger than my reason not to.

Do you really want to make that resolution count?

A week in to the New Year, if you embarked on a resolution, how is it going?

If it is not going well, don’t feel bad, you are not a failure.

Don’t feel rushed into making a change in your life just because it is the start of a new year.

You can make your resolution anytime. But it is vital you choose wisely and plan for success. You must believe in the change you want to make. The change must be more desirable than what you have otherwise where is the motivation to succeed?

On New Years Eve or even New Year’s Day we decide that we are not getting any younger, so this is the year I change my lifestyle. Without much planning if any we rush into a fitness and healthy eating regime. We go on our first run or first trip to the gym and the reality hits us like a brick in the stomach. Sometimes we will resolve to persevere as it is bound to get easier. However we always overestimate our level of fitness and attempt a regime that just is not realistic. Therefore we fail dismally and spend the rest of the month feeling fat and useless.

Now you can apply this to any resolution, such as stopping smoking, dry Jan and healthy eating.

Well don’t worry help is at hand. The answer is to apply the principles below then answer the following questions. But be honest.

First you can make a lifestyle change anytime you want. Don’t restrict yourself to January.

Changing you lifestyle is challenging, it will not always go to plan, so prepare to change plans and approach.

Do you really need to change? If you do, what do you want to change? Why do you want to change?

What does the changed lifestyle look and feel like?

How much do you want to change?

How likely is it that you will achieve it?

When do you want to achieve the change?

When you have set you goal you can then start to plan how you are going to achieve your goal.

The most important thing though is to set a goal that is realistic and is something you really want, not what you think you want.

A Week of Coaching Old Friends

thMG0DI9EB

It has been a funny old week at work. It was another short working week, with New Years Day being on Monday. By Tuesday though it was as if the Christmas holiday had never happened. That was probably because for me and many others at best Christmas was just two long weekends.

So it was back at work on Tuesday, feeling a little deflated that Christmas was over and the long dark, and cold month of January was spread out in front of me. I tell you Foggy was having a field day on Tuesday morning, filling my head with negative and destructive thoughts on the bus on the way in to work. I desperately needed some positivity to get me through this first week of 2018.

As mentioned in last week’s blog I had briefly reviewed last year’s progress. So once I was at work on Tuesday I started with a brief look back at last year and looking at what needed to be continued into this year. This gave me some momentum helping me look beyond the seemingly cold and gloomy month. So I had plenty to get my teeth into on the first day, including working on the meta-ethnography research I am working on with the university, arranging reviews of the rotation of new staff and arranging to catch up with some of my longstanding coachees.

I have been coaching 3 nurses in leadership roles for some time now, and I had not met up with them for a few months. It was therefore important that we met up to allow them to provide an update o what they had done and what was left to complete. I must admit I did instigate the catch-ups, by wishing them a Happy New Year and asking them if they wanted to meet. All 3 were keen to meet up, either to provide an update or to discuss new and emerging issues for them at work.

Just before each coaching session I always get very nervous and quite tense. I am sure I am not the only coach that feels like this. It is the desire to provide the coaching session the coachee needs that drives my anxiety. I find that I need to empty my mind just before the session and fight the urge to rehearse the session in my head before I get there. Otherwise there is a risk that I run the session as per my rehearsal and it is not run by the coachee. I am always fearful of making the coaching session about me the coach and not keeping the focus on the coachee. It is not that we might spend the whole session talking about me, but that I start to get seduced by the subjects that we are discussion and move into problem solving mode. This can be an easy trap to fall into when coaching people who are from the same professional background.  I must admit that on a couple of occasions in 2 of the sessions this did happen. Luckily I recognised what was happening before I started to problem solve. On these occasions I declared to the coachee what was happening to me. I said told them that I had, had previous experience of this and then told them what I had learned from my experience. By declaring what I was doing, I was making t very clear that this was my experience and what I learned about it, and that it may help them, but it is up to them to decide. It is Ok to provide direction from time to time as long as you declare it.

So what I learned from the coaching this week is that becoming anxious about the upcoming session is very important to me as it raises my self-awareness of my occasional tendency to internalize the subject matter, and that if I recognise this is happening then I need to declare this to the coachee.

Now I must say I thoroughly enjoyed all 3 coaching conversations. All 3 of them are doing some amazing things and truly do make a difference to healthcare. I always come away from the sessions inspired, having learned something. As I have been coaching them for a while, I have a good relationship with them all and they are definitely equal relationships where we feel we can challenge and support in equal measure.

Meeting up with and coaching 3 old friends has definitely improved my mood this week and put Foggy back in his box. I am now looking forward to the rest of January with a renewed vigour.

A brief look back at 2017 then full speed into 2018

New Year’s Day is a reflective day. Normally down to the over indulgence of the night before. I was a good boy this year and only had a few drinks, in front of the telly. Saying that I went for a run this morning and still felt the effects of a week of over eating and drinking.

Anyway normally when I look back at my life, like many others I get bogged down ruminating about all the events that did not go well. This is far from constructive and generally makes me feel rubbish about myself. No doubt that sounds familiar to many of you.

This year I decided to use a positive psychology approach, in fact an approach I encourage at work. Instead of constantly looking at what we don’t do well, why don’t we try to learn from what we did well. So I have looked at my achievements this year, and celebrate them. Thinking about them is easy enough, and is quite enjoyable, even inspiring. Writing them down and telling people is quite difficult, as no one likes a show off. But I am going to give it a go. Really telling people what you have done well is not showing off if you encourage others to share their successes. All it does is make us all feel happy and inspired to achieve more. That is the point of a review, to inspire your future plans using your previous recipes of success, rather than you recipes of failure.

So here are my highlights (my successes).

Most of my highlights are work related:

  • I have devised a document that incorporates a sepsis screening tool and sepsis checklist for children
  • I set up a new induction and rotation for newly qualified children’s nurses
  • I have coached 5 young people helping them to decide their future
  • I have coached 4 leaders to further develop their leadership skills
  • I have delivered human factors training to all the newly qualified nurses at our hospital trust in October, and now helping to roll out a programme for the all staff next year
  • I have started as coaching lead within the trust for a year
  • I am working in partnership with my local university, doing a meta ethnography on attitudes of young people with eating disorders to the care they receive in a general hospital.
  • I have started writing down my memories for my boys to provide them with a history of my family when I was growing up
  • I have finally accepted my depression and don’t let it control my life
  • I am optimistic now for the first time
  • I am starting to enjoy my own company and one day soon will actually tell myself how much I appreciate me
  • I am learning to share my job with someone else
  • I have started to write my own self help guide, and if it helps me I might share it with you all (for a small fee)

There may be some more achievements, but that will do.

You know what, I actually feel quite good. When you start writing it down you realise how much you have done. Give it a go, it really is inspiring. You may think that you have not done anything much. That is what I felt. It’s not true, you have, you are just conditioned not to concentrate on the positive, but dwell on the negative.

So now I have looked at what I have achieved I can look forward to what comes next. Now a number of what I have started will continue. In fact most of them will. Many of them will change and become bigger and better. This next year I also want to take part in some more research, start teaching coaching skills, further develop my coaching, and provide more coaching to more people (to make coaching accessible, and an important part of all of our lives).

2018 will be incredible and exciting if I make it. Your year ahead will be whatever you make it.

If you want to do something amazing, get in touch we can have a chat and decide if being coached is for you.