Many of you will be thinking – what on Earth are RCNNQN and RCN Students up to? Hopefully, the ramblings below will shed some light on our idea, and we hope they will inspire you to join in!

What a year – we have heard it repeatedly. And when we meet, all we talk about are restrictions, vaccinations, how intense work is etc…etc… Then if you’re like me, you try and focus on the positives 2020 has brought.

For me, it is completing my degree, registering, getting a promotion, and finally being in the job I have dreamed of. But, if I am honest, those thoughts are fleeting. While I am proud of them and know how important they are, on a day-to-day basis, they don’t stop me feeling low and struggling with getting out of bed to face the day full of uncertainty, negativity and recently for me, bad news.

This week my team received the news that a colleague had died at the weekend; suddenly and without warning, one day she was there in her ‘Merry and Bright’ Christmas jumper and then the next, we received a phone call to say she was gone. The week before, my uncle died, two years after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, and my heart shattered into a thousand pieces.

These things, on top of a world full of negativity in the news, on Twitter and in work all felt like too much to cope with. I have been angry and short-tempered, snapping at everyone and struggling to see the point. Twitter, a place that in the past has helped me be positive, has felt negative, personal and like a reflection of my bad mood and anger.

Those who know me well know this isn’t usually what I am like. I am, as my husband once described me, annoyingly positive. And not feeling like that each day made me angrier, and more negative until that was all that consumed me, and I couldn’t think of anything else. It hasn’t helped that I am also peri-menopausal – but that is a whole other discussion!

Then out of the blue, I had a short message from a friend who pre-covid I saw and spoke to every week, but we have both found online chats tiring and draining, so have spoken much less frequently. The message simply said, “I miss you.” These three simple words were a tiny thing, a small action.

But what that small action did was stop me feeling invisible, forgotten and insecure. It made me remember friendships that had meaning, and it gave me hope for the days to come. Later that day, my son, who has a diagnosis of ASD, said to his big sister, “sometimes I do love you a bit”.  Not much you may think, but that is possibly the first time in 15 years that I have heard him be spontaneously affectionate to one of his siblings. And finally, the last thing on that day to lift my spirits was my youngest coming home saying, “my Secret Santa was so excited by my present because you had wrapped it so nicely”.  Again, a tiny thing, but there is a repeated joke with my best friend about how slack I am with my wrapping. This year I’ve chosen brown paper to be environmentally friendly, some red string and wooden tags and spent a few more seconds making them look festive with Christmas stamps. I also worry endlessly about being a terrible mother whose kids feel neglected and have a mother not as good as everyone else’s.  Just that comment meant loads, in so many ways.

What those three small actions did individually was made me smile. What they did together is made me more positive. And what I then did, was a few small things for others, to make them realise the little things matter to me. I felt better for it, and hopefully, they did too.

The upshot of it is – the big, tragic stuff is still there, they still hurt like hell, but focussing on the little things has let me move forward, they have given me moments to smile; stringing those moments together has made me feel happier, more productive and most importantly, hopeful.

So, how can we use this in nursing?  What can we do on #NurseTwitter? What do we want you to do?  There are without doubt things that are negative that need addressing and changing and challenges we will face in the coming months. We can’t shy away from these, and I am not for a moment suggesting that we do. But, if those three small actions could make a difference to me, imagine what the force of us all doing small actions could be.

My favourite equation (I never thought I would say that when I was doing my GCSEs!) is Small Actions x Many People = Big Change, and that is what we are asking you to do. Small Actions. Do them write about them, tweet about them. Because sitting at home in my dining room writing this blog, I am sure as hell not going to cure Covid, find a treatment for Motor Neurone Disease or sort out a Brexit deal. But, I might make you smile, I remind you to do something for someone else or to just challenge someone in a way that doesn’t attack them personally. And if we all do that – 2021 may just be the year for #SmallActionsBigChanges

Clare http://www.twitter.com/MannersOfMarple

Published by RCN Newly Qualified Nurses

The voice of newly qualified nurses within the Royal College of Nursing. Providing support from six months pre-registration throughout preceptorship.

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