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    KEEP FRIENDS CLOSE: Today’s words to jump-start solution-focused practice

    “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” – C.S. Lewis

    With friends in the Mediterranean this time last year (before the days of social distancing)

    As our world begins reopening from the pandemic, we are longing for the day when we can be in close proximity to friends and family again! Some of the most treasured moments for us personally are sharing life adventures, laughter, and good food and drink with friends (can you see that in our smiles in the picture above from our Mediterranean escape a year ago??) Yet in these days of physical distancing, we are reminded how critical it is to keep friends close, and stay connected while being physically away.   

    Today’s words are: KEEP FRIENDS CLOSE

    So with that, today in our series on words to jump-start a solution-focused approach when managing diabetes, we’re again using a few words (rather than just one) to generate thinking about how to focus on being healthy, living healthy, and making healthy choices, as a follow-on to our last blog “YOU CAN BE HEALTHY”.

    We chose today’s words – Keep Friends Close – because they were used frequently during Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (#DSMA) Twitter chats we hosted in 2018, and seem appropriate in these days of physical distancing. It became crystal clear during those Twitter chats that among people with diabetes, friendships are incredibly impactful and important – especially friendships with peers who also live with diabetes.

    Beyond the concept of friendship alone, we want to stress 3 things (maybe it’s 4 things):

    • Truly valuing friendship
    • Understanding how friendships can support one in living their best life
    • How even in crazy times like we are now living, it is possible to maintain friendships, and might we even suggest, strengthen them

    Video chats, calls, and linking up through social media can provide breaks from upsetting news coverage and help reduce feelings of isolation, loneliness, fear, disappointment (missed graduations, delayed weddings, and the list goes on), help cope with stress, and manage diabetes distress. Those who regularly engage in social media and online discussions, like the previously mentioned Twitter chats have some advantage during these pandemic days because they’ve already experienced the benefits of online friendship and support. 

    Deb’s friends and family participating in a Zoom graduation party.

    What does this mean for diabetes care and education specialists (DCES)?

    Here are 6 solution-focused questions you can use in your conversations to focus on VIPs (friends) and identify opportunities to receive support and strength:

    1. Who do you most enjoy spending your time with?
    2. What traits would your VIP say you have that will help you reach your goals?
    3. What do important people in your life consider to be your best qualities?
    4. How can you use those qualities now?
    5. Suppose your friend with diabetes had the same issue you are facing, what solution would he/she find?
    6. What would the important people in your life say that is different about you when you achieve your goal?

    In these days, here are 5 ways you can encourage your clients to Keep Friends (VIPs) Close virtually: 

    1. Talk about concerns, how they’re feeling, and share emotional support.
    2. Swap strategies for coping with changes in sleep or eating patterns.
    3. Do virtual stretching, workouts, or meditations to help care for you mind, body and spirit.
    4. Share ideas on how they’re eating healthy. Since May is National Mediterranean Diet Month, maybe find a Mediterranean-style recipe they and a friend can cook together virtually via Zoom. Or try this favorite of ours from a previous blog here.
    5. Provide an outlet to unwind and laugh.

    THIS WEEK’S SOLUTION-FOCUSED CHALLENGE

    Each week we’re including a solution-focused challenge that can help evolve care and education in a solution-focused manner. Here’s this week’s challenge: When working with clients these next few weeks, try asking at least 3 questions to understand their VIPs and how they are working to Keep Friends Close during this pandemic. Here are some examples:

    1. Who are the most important people in your life?
    2. How have they been helpful for you?
    3. How are you focusing on staying connected with them while we have been staying at home?
    Friends and colleagues from around the world with a connection to diabetes (looking forward to the days we can huddle in for a picture like this again!).

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    YOU CAN BE HEALTHY: Today’s words to jump-start solution-focused practice

    A view of the Mediterranean Sea from Eze sur mer, France

    Make one healthy choice. Then make another. – sparkpeople.com

    In the midst of the pandemic affecting our world, we have found ourselves intermittently feeling like we’re in the twilight zone, stuck in a time warp, with the hours and days running together. How did it get to be May?? During these “healthy at home” days, we’ve spent a lot of time reflecting…and what a difference a year makes! This time last year we were packing our bags preparing to hop on flights to the magical Mediterranean Sea. We are superfans of the Mediterranean culture and eating style, and to think that we weren’t even aware back then that May is National Mediterranean Diet Month! With that in mind, throughout this month of May as we continue our series focused on words to jump-start solution-focused practice, we’ll share a few favorite tips and swaps to eat “more Mediterranean-style”. We hope they’re helpful to you and your clients in the effort to make one healthy choice, and then another, during these stressful and challenging times.

    Today’s word is actually a few words: YOU CAN BE HEALTHY

    Words are powerful. Read more about ACCEPTANCE, STRENGTHS, POSSIBILITIES, MINDSET, SUPPORT, and GRATITUDE in solution-focused practice. “YOU CAN BE HEALTHY”  were words used frequently during Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (#DSMA) Twitter chats we hosted in 2018. Participants engaged in a solution-focused exercise (you can read about it here), and identified their desired future state, their strengths, and their resilient capacity. Many expressed their focus on the future was about living a healthy life and being healthy despite living with a chronic condition. They expressed they did not feel that diabetes made them “sick” or a “sick person”, and desired to focus on the fact that “you can be healthy” while living with a chronic condition. These words really resonated with us because in a solution-focused practice the goal for diabetes care and education specialists is to step alongside as a think partner to focus on what CAN happen, what one’s “best hopes” for their future are, to envision possibilities, and build upon strengths..

    One can BE healthy by making healthy food choices. While a variety of eating approaches have been proven helpful in managing blood glucose, in the spirit of National Mediterranean Diet month, we’re focusing on the Mediterranean eating pattern and sharing 8 tips toward a healthy Mediterranean-style eating plan. You can read more about Mediterranean-style eating in an earlier blog here. 

    Tomato and greens salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a dash of Parmesan cheese

    8 Tips to Eat More Mediterranean-Style

    1. Fit in fish at least twice a week. Fish and seafood are primary protein sources in the Mediterranean diet with limited use of red meat. Fresh, foil-packed, or water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, and herring are healthy options.Choose tuna or salmon to top a salad at least once a week (we’re fans of foil-pack varieties for simplicity) and make fish your “go-to” order when ordering out. There’s your two servings!
    2. Fill at least half of your plate with Mediterranean style non-starchy vegetables. Vegetables are a staple of the Mediterranean eating pattern. Mediterranean-style non-starchy options include artichokes, arugula, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, celeriac, chicory, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, greens, leeks, mushrooms, nettles, okra, onions, peas, peppers, radishes, rutabaga, scallions, shallots, tomatoes, turnip, and zucchini. 
    3. Choose whole fresh fruit as the “sweet treat”. When the desire for something sweet arises, opt for Mediterranean-style fruits including apples, apricots, avocados, cherries, clementines, dates, figs, grapefruit, grapes, melons, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pears, pomegranates, strawberries and tangerines.
    4. Replace butter and margarine with healthful oils, such as olive or canola oil. Olive oil is the main dietary fat in the Mediterranean eating style.  Use these oils for cooking, dip bread in flavored olive oil, or lightly spread olive oil on whole-grain breads.
    5. Season meals with herbs and spices rather than salt. If you don’t have fresh herbs, 1 teaspoon of dried gives the same flavor boost ast 1 tablespoon fresh.
    6. Choose whole-grains. This includes whole-grain breads and cereals, as well as whole-grain pasta and brown rice. Other Mediterranean-style whole grains include barley bulgur, whole grain couscous, and farro.
    7. Crunch more nuts or seeds. Keep almonds, peanuts, pistachios, and walnuts on hand for a quick snack We keep small zip-top bags of pistachios at our desks at work.
    8. Make water the go-to beverage, with wine in low to moderate amounts if you choose to drink alcohol (cheers!).

    THIS WEEK’S SOLUTION-FOCUSED CHALLENGE

    Each week we’re including a solution-focused challenge that can help evolve care and education in a solution-focused manner. Here’s this week’s challenge around YOU CAN BE HEALTHY!

    1. Help clients identify at least one thing they’re already doing to be healthy by asking a question such as “What have you already tried that is helping you, even if only a little bit?”. 
    2. Explore how they are able to accomplish doing that by asking a question such as “What gave you the strength to …..” (fill in the blank….make that choice, make that change etc.).
    3. Then ask what additional healthy choice they desire to make. How can they build upon past success to do that? You may ask, “What will you be doing differently after this visit?”

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    GRATITUDE: Today’s word to jump-start a solution-focused practice

    Andrea Bocelli performing Amazing Grace during Music For Hope – Live From Duomo di Milano on YouTube

    Through many dangers, toils and snares We have already come. T’was grace that brought us safe thus far And grace will lead us home – lyrics from “Amazing Grace”

    As April and this most stressful National Stress Awareness Month come to a close, it seems fitting to try to maintain mindfulness of the people, feelings and things big and small that we are grateful for. 

    Today’s word is GRATITUDE

    In solution-focused practice, emphasis is on the present and the future (rather than dwelling on past problems). We know there is a direct link between thoughts one thinks and the feelings they feel. Several studies suggest that expressing gratitude can decrease stress and anxiety by activating the areas in the brain that release the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine. When practiced over time, healthy and productive thoughts can produce effective long-term benefit. A few months back we published a blog on developing gratitude practices, including keeping a gratitude journal. Read more about it here.

    On April 12, one entry in both of our gratitude journals was renowned Italian singer, Andrea Bocelli’s, live stream solo performance on YouTube of Amazing Grace (pictured above). Another gratitude entry this month is that our article, A Paradigm Shift: Taking a Solution-Focused Approach to Practice  was published in the journal ADCES In Practice! While it’s exciting to be published, we are most thrilled for the opportunity to share with other diabetes care and education specialists how to embrace a solution-focused approach in practice, shifting from focusing on trying to “fix problems”.

    Another thing we are both grateful for are friendships, far and near, and the video conferencing platforms that allow us to gather together on Friday nights for a “virtual happy hour”. We have fun catching up and sharing our weekly challenges and successes. Here we are hanging out last week! 

    Tami & Mike, Deb & Mark, Joan & David and Terry & Karen

    Through these “stay at home” orders, even though we live in four different states, we’ve had the epiphany, “Why didn’t we think about doing this before?” We can still connect and spend time with each other! We plan to keep doing this even after we no longer have to social distance. 

    How to get started with gratitude practices?

    In addition to the ideas shared in our previous blog on gratitude, here are 2 more strategies to help develop daily gratitude habits:

    1. Start a gratitude jar. A colleague of Deb’s shared this daily gratitude practice her family (children included) is using. When something is going well and they realize they are happy and excited, they write down what’s happening on a small piece of paper and drop it in a gratitude jar. Then during times when they are not feeling as happy and feel struggles, they go to the gratitude jar and read one of those slips of paper, bringing back those happy feelings. 
    2. Say a kind word. The quickest, simplest and easiest way to demonstrate gratitude is to say thanks to another. Let someone know exactly why you are grateful to have them in your life, sharing specific things they have done or said on your behalf.

    THIS WEEK’S SOLUTION-FOCUSED CHALLENGE

    We often close with inviting readers to participate in a solution-focused challenge. This week we challenge you to incorporate at least one gratitude practice into your conversations with clients. Encourage finding a daily time to practice gratitude and try to be consistent. Maybe it’s when they get up in the morning. Maybe it’s before they go to bed at night. Maybe it’s when they’re exercising. 

    We @AFreshPOVforYou are grateful for pets and the smiles they bring! These last few weeks we’ve been spending so much extra time on screens big and small, that our cats are even joining in!

    Tami’s “grand-kitty” Starry (Who knew she loved Andrea Bocelli and classical music??)

    We are grateful for you all and appreciate the opportunity to share our passion for expanding the use of solution-focused principles into diabetes care and education.  We thank you for reading!

    Deb’s “office cat” Puma watching Hulu!

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    SUPPORT: Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

    The Pont du Gard, a spectacular bridge that supports an ancient Roman aqueduct system built in the first century AD to carry water over 30 miles to Nîmes, Provence, France.

    April is national Stress Awareness month, and around the world stress is at an all-time high amidst the COVID-19 crisis! Since stress during an infectious disease outbreak such as this can worsen chronic health conditions as well as mental health, getting support is essential.

    It’s timely that today’s word is SUPPORT 

    Putting COVID-19 aside for a moment, diabetes is a complex and challenging condition – one that requires attention every minute, every hour, every single day. According to an October 1, 2015 blog posted by Manny Hernandez, people with diabetes (PWD) spend only 0.007% of their time over the course of a year with healthcare providers and emergency departments. They spend the remaining 99.993%  time self-managing their condition on their own. And thus ongoing support is critical. People who have a strong support system in place tend to be healthier (and recover more quickly when they are sick.)

    Asking for and accepting help (support) is a sign of strength.

    In solution-focused practice, it’s vital to step alongside the person with diabetes to guide them in selecting the resources or activities that best suit their needs, and that works for them.

    Support comes in many forms: 5 ways to guide your clients to engage in ongoing diabetes support

    1. Check in with loved ones often. A common reaction during this time of physical and social distancing is feeling socially isolated, especially for those that live alone or are in a community setting that is not allowing visitors because of the outbreak.Virtual communication can help you and your loved ones feel less lonely and isolated. Maybe it’s connecting via video chat, text messages, email, social media, mailing letters or cards, or a good “old fashioned” phone call. It may help for you to share specific ways they can support you (such as “Do join me in making healthy lifestyle changes, but please don’t offer unsolicited advice about my eating.”)
    2. Reach out to your diabetes health-care team. Call on them if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row. They are dedicated to helping you take an active role in caring for your diabetes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic many healthcare providers are using telehealth, so you don’t have to leave your home to get the help you need.
    3. Support yourself by taking care of your own emotional health. Last fall we wrote about a solution-focused approach to healthy copying. You can find 6 ways to deal with stress and cope with life with diabetes in a healthy manner here. This is even more important for those caring for a loved one during this health crisis, which can take an emotional toll. 
    4. Learn about free resources that are available. There are many resources available to support stress management and coping, and some of them are free! There are free versions of mindfulness apps for your phone to help with meditation or sleep. There are many YouTube videos available that are freely available to watch, including videos for self-help as well as videos that just make you smile and laugh. During this COVID-19 crisis there is a wonderful free resource from Livongo called myStrength. Anyone can sign up (no credit card required) to participate in a series of small lessons ranging from coping with stress to learning how to communicate while being physically distant from your friends and family.
    5. Connect with others with diabetes for peer support. Connecting with others in the vibrant online diabetes community is an opportunity to learn from others facing similar issues, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, when it is convenient to engage. Peer support using social networking sites improves glucose management, especially in people with type 2 diabetes. Other avenues to gain peer support are through a “support group” or participating in a diabetes program or workshop. The American Diabetes Association has an online discussion board that allows people with diabetes to share their ideas, questions, and opinions on a variety of topics. These settings provide great opportunities to discuss common problems and concerns as well as share helpful advice, offer support, and celebrate success in diabetes self-care. The Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists website has lots of resources about online peer support here and you can download a handout here.
    Tami & Deb staying connected via Zoom

    THIS WEEK’S SOLUTION-FOCUSED CHALLENGE

    We often close with inviting readers to participate in a solution-focused challenge. This week we challenge you to incorporate these questions around support into your conversations with clients.

    1. What types of support are helpful to you currently?
    2. What types of support could help you now?
    3. Where will you get it? 
    4. When will you take the step to see this support?
    5. On a scale of 0-10, where 0 means not likely and 10 means very likely, how likely are you to engage in a support resource to help you?

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    MINDSET: Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

    Deb’s “office kitty” has a mindset that is always focused on envisioning how to get outside and climb those trees!

    Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

    Given the chaos, worry, hurry, and stress that COVID-19 has rained upon the world, it’s timely that April is national Stress Awareness month. And who could have guessed several months ago when we slotted the word “Mindset”  as the focus for today’s blog that it would in fact be so relevant. We know you’re all busy and have many things on your mind, so we’re hoping this blog can help everyone take a short stress break and identify opportunities to reduce stress today.

    Today’s word is MINDSET: So what exactly is a Solution-Focused Mindset? 

    In a general sense, “mindset” is the way you think about your world, what you focus on, and how you relate to the world day-to-day. Change, like we’re all  experiencing now, means the emergence of new and challenging problems requiring new solutions. In matters big and small, diabetes-related or not, by embracing a mindset that focuses on solutions, and channeling energy into leveraging strengths and possibilities, you can cultivate a solution-focused mindset. One that envisions success. One which helps manage stress. Focusing on solutions and getting a plan in place helps reduce stress.

    Mindset has a more positive connotation than does stress, and implies that one has some control over the way they interpret and interact with their world during times of increased stress. Today we share with you 7 strategies you can use to help you as you function in your new environment, and also can help you step alongside your clients and support them in embracing a solution-focused mindset and managing stress:

    1. Create a morning mindset routine. We find that starting the day by making a list of each thing you’re looking forward to in that day (or even in the future) creates a feeling of anticipation and excitement that creates momentum for the entire day. Aim for at least 3 things. While you can note them mentally, in your phone’s Notes sections, or in a journal, if you write it them on a post-it note, you can easily post it somewhere that you’ll see it throughout the day (such as on your blood glucose monitoring supplies, on the car dash, on the refrigerator, you get the idea…) By focusing on the positive at the beginning of the day, it’s much easier to be happy, be focused, get work done more quickly. And often,  getting work done seems easier too.
    2. Live your Miracle Day. You may be familiar with the book by Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In his book, Habit 2 is called Begin with the end in mind. In thinking about this process, the solution-focused tool The Miracle Question can be employed to change mindset. It guides in envisioning how life would be different tomorrow if a miracle occurred tonight and your challenges were gone. It helps know what you want.You can read more about it and how to use it here. 
    3. Build on your past success(es). While we  might not have any specific past successes that directly relate to our world today, we can apply successes in similar areas. What has worked well for you in the past when you’ve been under stress? Or maybe you can learn from others and what has worked for them. On social media we saw a post about how people are outside taking walks more often while staying and working at home. In one neighborhood someone started writing messages in chalk to give people passing by some hope and strength. We thought this was a great idea and so started doing this too. We now have neighbors writing back to us!
    4. Move your body. It might be simply taking a walk. Physical activity lowers stress hormones and triggers the brain to release chemicals that make you feel better. (We’re finding that taking short walks to clear our minds is helping us to feel less stress and think more clearly). During this time of crisis, many physical activity outlets are offering free online opportunities for those staying at home.
    5. Use positive affirmations. We wrote about using positive affirmations in a blog last December on Healthy Coping here. When life is feeling especially challenging, we’ve found that practicing “daily affirmations” greatly helps us. An affirmation is a short, positive statement that you say to yourself to build yourself up: I can do this. I am strong. Each moment brings choice. I will not hold onto bitterness.I can live an overflowing life. Have you ever tried affirmations? The reality is that we believe what we tell ourselves and what we hear others say about us. Using affirmations can help to “rebuild” negative thinking and strengthen positive thoughts. When working with clients in a solution-focused way, we can  help them to create their own affirmations as one Healthy Coping mechanism.
    6. Surround yourself with positive mindset people. Stress can cause some to turn inward and isolate themselves.Talking to others about your stressors and seeking their support is one way to de-stress. A positive social circle can act as an echo chamber for positive ideas, focusing on a great future and supporting your dreams. Maybe it’s taking a walk outside with a friend (practicing social distancing, of course) or chatting via Google Hangout or Facetime. Whenever the two of us are together we have lots of fun and laughter. That is one way we cope with stress. Find your tribe.
    7. Close out the day with a “wins”checklist. These may be linked to some of the things you were looking forward to, or different things. They don’t have to be monumental. The point is to keep your focus on your day’s best experiences and recognizing how you were able to leverage strengths and doing more of what’s worked well in the past. Finding ways to practice gratitude may be helpful.  You can read more on gratitude here.

    Each week we’ve been inviting readers to participate in a solution-focused challenge. Given all of the real world challenges we are all facing…..we didn’t think you needed another this week! So, we encourage you to try out one or more of the strategies we shared today, and please reach out and let us know how you’re doing! We’d love to help you de-stress and focus on a positive mindset.

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    POSSIBILITIES: Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

    Take your mind off the problems for a moment, and focus on the positive possibilities. Consider how very much you are able to do.  ~ Ralph Marston

    Amidst the COVID-19 crisis our world is facing, and the accompanying anxiety and uncertainty,  we are trying to remind ourselves of the many things big and small that we are grateful for. And one of those is that tomorrow is the first day of spring! The change in seasons brings new beginnings and a fresh start. Buds pop open, as pictured on Deb’s peach tree above. And each of those new buds eventually brings beautiful juicy peaches. So with the arrival of spring, we are reminded that no matter what the situation today, there remain new possibilities for the future.

    We hope you find value and inspiration in our series focusing on words to jump-start solution-focused thinking and conversations. If you’re new to our blog, you can read more about our take on the power of word selection here. Last week’s word was “Strengths” – check out our perspective here.

    Today’s word is POSSIBILITIES

    In solution-focused talk, “possibilities” are interwoven with and build upon “strengths”, and what is working well. In theory, by doing “more” of what is “working”, there’s less time to dwell on things that are not going as well or as desired. Building upon strengths ultimately can create possibilities that you may not have even realized existed!

    In a survey we conducted last year, we asked individuals living with diabetes about their experiences with diabetes education services. As we’ve shared before, many people (71% in our survey) are not satisfied with their experiences. Largely, traditional diabetes care and education services have employed a “problem-focused” approach that concentrates on trying to pin-point causes of “problems”. (What caused your low? Why haven’t you been exercising? What led to your time out of range? You get the idea…) Overwhelmingly, the survey respondents expressed desire for their healthcare professionals (HCPs) to focus on non-judgmental communication with individualized, personalized care and education. The desire is that HCPs be positive and express “You can be healthy and we’re here to support your journey!”  Diabetes care and education specialists can play a key role in stepping alongside their clients with diabetes as think partners to envision possibilities. 

    THIS WEEK’S SOLUTION-FOCUSED CHALLENGE

    Each week we’re including a solution-focused challenge that can help evolve care and education in a solution-focused manner. This week the challenge is to consider conversations around continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). The expansion of CGM technologies means more people can have access to more data and use that data to learn much more about their diabetes than what a single number shows. In fact, in the previously mentioned survey, when we asked people what they wanted to be doing “more of” in the future, multiple individuals responded with “more time-in-range.” Of course, no one wants to have glucose values that swing up and down or remain above or below target, yet many conversations (while well-meaning), are often focused on pinpointing the cause of the time out of range and  the “whys”, when the cause is usually “diabetes”

    We’ve interpreted and applied learnings from the recent Advanced Technologies and Treatments for Diabetes meeting (ATTD) and presentation by renowned physician Dr. Rich Bergenstal to illustrate how to review CGM data using a solution-focused approach focused on possibilities and building upon strengths. (You can read the complete summary by diaTribe  here.)

    Here are 5 ways to evolve discussions around CGM:

    1. Flat, Narrow, In-Range (FNIR). When reviewing CGM trends, try using the FNIR approach, aiming for tracings that are flat, narrow, and in-range. It creates a goal and something that is possible with education, management, and support. More importantly, it steers clear of negative or disempowering terms while examining data. 
    2. Steady, Tight And in-Range (STAR). Another approach similar to FNIR, again focusing on possibilities of tracings that are steady, tight, and in-range.
    3. More Green, Less Red (MGLR). Are you familiar with the Ambulatory Glucose Profile (AGP)? An AGP report is a standardized glucose report that includes summary statistics, a glucose profile graph and glucose daily calendar graphs. It provides a report format that is consistent regardless of blood glucose monitoring device. Graphs help translate the numbers into a picture for easy, quick interpretation. Try using MGLR particularly with the bar graph that indicates time-in-range. With this approach focus on the green can draw focus to strengths. What and how did you achieve the amount of green we see on the chart? How can you do more of that to see more green and less red? This approach can help build possibilities and define actions.
    4. Thinking fast and slow. What this means is thinking about readings in real time – when one would need to act fast (like responding to a CGM low alert), then taking some time to look at retrospective data and “think slow”, spending time learning to pinpoint strengths and more realistically think about possibilities.
    5. Best Day. Another solution-focused option that we’re fans of is the “Best Day” pattern feature on the AGP report. Focusing on what went well on the “best day” when their glucose values were more in range can guide the individual to focus on their strengths.  Questions you could ask are, “What were you doing on this day to help you have more green and less red? What else was working for you?” This is also a good opportunity to practice “thinking slow” and encouraging individuals to spend time trying to learn from their CGM data.

    So with the arrival of spring, just as Deb’s peach blossoms have the possibility of turning into sweet, juicy peaches as they did last year (pictured below), taking a solution-focused approach to diabetes care and education can be a fresh new start and bring possibilities to light..

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    STRENGTHS: Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

    The strength in the Dolomite Mountains towering over a lovely placid lake in Northern Italy from Deb’s travels in 2018.

    We find ourselves in the middle of National Words Matter week. Did you know there was such a week? Words are the basis for communication, no matter what language is spoken. Because words matter, we’ve written about the #LangaugeMatters movement many times, you can read more here and here. Here at AFreshPOVforYou, we embrace the importance, power, and impact of words, not just this week, but all year long!

    Our series focusing on words to inspire solution-focused thinking and practice continues this week. You can read more about our take on the power of word selection here. Last week’s word was “Acceptance” – check out our perspective here.

    Today’s word is “Strengths”

    According to the Miriam Webster Dictionary, “strength” is: the quality or state of being strong : capacity for exertion or endurance: a strong attribute or inherent asset. In solution-focused talk, “strengths” are tasks or actions an individual can do well. For instance, seeking support. In a 2018 #DSMA Twitter Chat we asked participants about their strengths. One individual with diabetes replied:

    “I am strong when it comes to seeking support. When I am down, I am self-aware enough to address my hardship. I’m not afraid to be vulnerable.”

    Another replied:

    “My strength is that I refuse to give up. I am tenacious and do not take no for an answer.”

    An individual typically can recognize and clearly identify things they are able to do or achieve and feel happy. We can then encourage focus on those strengths, doing more of what is working, and leveraging those strengths, skills and qualities to create new opportunities. In the same Twitter Chat mentioned above, another participant shared:

    “I concentrate on the lifestyle. The day to day life of a person with diabetes. I work for overall health through exercise, and diet for BGL [blood glucose] results. The support I receive takes care of the rest. So, cure or not, let’s make it as good as we can and support the other.”

    We’ve learned that sometimes self-identified strengths are not areas we might immediately think of in the healthcare world, as evidenced by this individual’s reply:

    “My strengths are passion, humor, and striving to connect with the human being that is each of us. And reminding myself I’m a work in progress.”

    Diabetes care and education specialists can learn a lot from simply asking people what strengths they have to help them live well with diabetes. Those words speak volumes, as evidenced in this individual’s reply:

    “I have the strength to keep on going even [when] I have a few bad readings here and there.  I keep living and doing what I do.”

    The Association for Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (ADCES, formerly AADE) embraces using strengths-based language in diabetes care and education, and has a page of resources here that you may find helpful. 

    A solution-focused challenge

    So our challenge to you this week is to focus on using strengths-based language in your communications to help uncover strengths your clients have. And encourage them to build upon those strengths to do more of what is working for them.

    Here are 5 solution-focused questions you can incorporate to focus on strengths:

    1. What strengths do you have and use to help you manage your diabetes every day? 
    2. What other strengths can you identify? (Note: whenever possible we ask “what else” to expand the thought process)
    3. What would success look like for you (e.g. in life, in living with diabetes etc.)?
    4. How can you use your strengths to create opportunities for success?
    5. What else would you like to share with me today?

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    ACCEPTANCE: Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

    Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

    “Acceptance means to be in the embrace of what is without resistance. True acceptance is one of the most powerful and life-changing practices you can choose for your life journey.” ~Kirra Sherman 

    In our last blog we asked… 

    How can we draw attention to words that are powerful, impactful and transformative. More importantly, how can we build a new vocabulary in healthcare so these words easily flow into conversations between diabetes care and education specialists and their clients?

    Join us today as we launch into a series of posts that will focus on words to inspire solution-focused thinking and practice…words which we embrace in practice and believe you will find them impactful in your conversations too. Each post will introduce a new word to weave into your conversations when talking about diabetes or life in general. (Think of this as similar to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary “Word of the Day”.)

    Today’s word is Acceptance

    We’re referring here to self-acceptance, as well as acceptance by the healthcare team in recognizing that people respond to change differently. We chose this as the first word because we believe it is foundational to solution-focused thinking. It underlies everything else. 

    Accepting oneself can be hard! 

    Being realistic about personal strengths and challenges is often easier said than done. For instance, we both love the outdoors and hiking, especially to take in a beautiful fresh view. However, with the ticking by of the years and impact of a couple injuries, we find we can’t quite embrace all of the things we used to do……like hiking up to mountain tops! Yes, that’s a bit of a bummer. We will never climb Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, pictured above! Yet, we’ve come to eventually accept that, and focus now on what we can do and find joy and happiness in that. So, we take flat hikes instead of climbing, we take a cable car ride to the top of the mountain, and we simply enjoy the beauty of it. 

    Here we are enjoying a beautiful view at Urquhart Castle, Inverness, Scotland.

    Striving to be honest with ourselves and accept who we are, our abilities, and acknowledge when we’ve reached our limits is the goal. Without acceptance it’s impossible to move forward.

    Acceptance is critical when living with a chronic condition like diabetes. 

    People need to feel safe when engaging with their care team to acknowledge what they can do, along with what is challenging for them. Diabetes care and education specialists on the other hand, need to support those that live with diabetes as they learn to accept changes and new challenges in dealing with diabetes.And, practice acceptance understanding that people react to challenges differently. It’s critical to accept the person in front of you as they are, without judgement.

    A solution-focused challenge

    So our first challenge to you is to build your capacity for acceptance. Bring this word front and center in each encounter. Develop acceptance as a personal strength and help cultivate it in others. 

    Here are 5 solution-focused questions you can incorporate to focus on building acceptance:

    1. Could  you tell me about your strengths and qualities you are happy about?
    2. What is one thing you have come to accept in your life that took some time to process?
    3. How did you feel when you were finally able to accept that challenging situation?
    4. How could you use those experiences and feelings to move you forward to accept a new challenge now?
    5. How can I help you come to realize acceptance in your life?

    We hope you will enjoy this new series. Please share with colleagues and students and encourage others in keeping acceptance top of mind in interactions. 

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou


  • Fresh Views

    Words Are Powerful!

    “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling

    Words are powerful! Consider these famous brands whose whole identity is defined by a few  words. 

    • Bounty: The Quicker Picker Upper. 
    • American Express: Don’t leave home without it. 
    • United Airlines: Fly the friendly skies. 
    • Disney: The happiest place on earth. 

    We remember these words. These words have power. These words have certainly left an imprint!

    We’ve focused a lot on the power of words over the last year in this blog. Words can define how people view themselves and their situations. Words can empower. Or words can stigmatize and judge. Our belief and practice @AFreshPOVforYou centers around using words that focus on strengths and create solutions, instead of words that dwell on the past and on problems. 

    You may know that  we partnered to help create the Telly Award winning video, Changing the Conversation (you can find it here), that focuses on the impact words have when living with a chronic medical condition. The video begins with Words are powerful!  We’ve watched this video hundreds of times and yet, it still brings a tear to our eyes. Why? Because the words resonate with our emotions and what we believe to be true, but most importantly, the words came directly out of the mouths of individuals who live with diabetes – Every. Single. Day. They shared their thoughts, feelings and emotions with us to create the inspiring words incorporated in the video.

    Now what if the same thing happened with healthcare communication? If careful thought was given to words used in conversation with clients; choosing words that resonated with people living with diabetes. Words that mattered. We can change the way they feel. Words that empowered them. Words that could transform them for the better. 

    Over the course of writing our blog, engaging in research, and connecting with the diabetes community we have been compiling words that align with the tenets of a solution-focused approach to care and education. Words spoken by people with diabetes in surveys, research and focus groups. Words expressed during Twitter chats. Words written in papers. 

    So we considered…

    How can we draw attention to these words and have them easily flow into conversations between diabetes care and education specialists and their clients?

    As a step in that direction, we are launching into a new series of blog posts focused on some of these key words that inspire solution-focused thinking. These words, their meanings, and impact are so powerful that we will devote a blog to each word. Our hope is that each post will spur thinking, inspire, motivate and provide practical guidance as we’ll challenge you to incorporate the word into your daily practice and encounters. 

    How are your words impacting others today? 

    Together, we can slowly evolve our vocabulary and ultimately change our messages. Together we can embrace possibilities, opportunities and create a fresh vision for the future.

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a healthcare professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    A Fresh POV for You in 2020: Our Renewed Focus

    A beautiful sunrise to start a fresh day!

    A new year, new decade, and renewed focus for us here @AFreshPOVforYou! This blog is over a year old now, and while our overarching focus remains the same, our Mission has evolved over time.

    Our overarching goal

    Our broad goal at A Fresh POV for You is to focus on Possibilities, Opportunities and creating a Vision (POV) for the future, based on strengths and leveraging positive learnings from past experiences. Initially the primary focus of this blog was people living with or at risk for diabetes. However, we realized that we also want to share our learnings and how-to’s with other diabetes care and education specialists in order to begin to flip the paradigm to embrace a solution-focused approach in practice. 

    Our new Mission

    We guide healthcare professionals in taking a solution-focused approach to practice to enable clients with diabetes to embrace possibilities, opportunities, and a fresh vision for the future.

    Who are we? 

    We are solution-focused diabetes care and education specialists . We are passionate about doing diabetes care and education differently. Too much of life is spent focusing on problems. Forget the “problems”! Let’s turn attention instead to possibilities, opportunities, and a fresh vision for the future. As diabetes care and education specialists, let’s step alongside our clients as “think partners” to focus on what’s important to them, what’s already going well, and build upon that to reach their goals so that they may live life to the fullest. 

    We have both spent our entire careers partnering with people with diabetes to leave a positive imprint. In our discussions and research with people with diabetes, we’ve heard loud and clear that many are not happy with the diabetes care and education services they have received. A remark that has frequently bubbled up is related to leaving a healthcare appointment feeling badly because of significant negative talk and attitudes – feeling as if they, the person with diabetes, has done something wrong, and thus are not motivated or inspired to do things differently. We are advocates for person-centered, strengths-based language, and believe that self-compassion is essential when living with a chronic condition. 

    A peek at our research findings

    From our research we’ve learned that incorporating a solution-focused approach into our interactions with clients makes a difference. Five themes emerged from our qualitative study regarding what  “would happen” in a desired future state, including: more living life; laughter and humor; self-compassion; resilience; and support.Together, let’s do more of what works, and focus less on what’s wrong.  

    Top 10 things we accomplished in 2019

    1. Conducted a survey around the perceptions and impact of current diabetes education services. (You can learn more in this post)
    2. Hosted 2 #DSMA Twitter Chats around taking a solution-focused approach to life with diabetes. (Read more about them here and here)
    3. Conducted a qualitative research study via Twitter around the impact of implementing a solution-focused tool, the  Miracle Question, with people living with diabetes.
    4. Conducted in-depth focus groups with people living with diabetes to gain insight around wants and needs to co-design the future of diabetes care and education services. (Read more about co-design here)
    5. Presented at the American Association of Diabetes Educators annual meeting  on implementation of the solution-focused tool, the Miracle Question adapted for diabetes. (Read about that here)
    6. Presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) on our Twitter Chat research. (Read our abstract here and our blog posts here and here)
    7. In follow-up to the EASD presentation, had our work published in the European Medical Journal focused on diabetes. (Find it here)
    8. Submitted a paper on taking a solution-focused approach to diabetes care and education accepted for publication in AADE in Practice journal.
    9. Submitted a paper sharing some of our research findings to The Diabetes Educator journal. 
    10. Outlined the content for a solution-focused handbook (more to come in the next year!)

    Top learning from 2019

    A solution-focused approach to diabetes care and education resonates with people with diabetes and diabetes care and education specialists!

    Our fresh views

    We’ve called our weekly blog posts our “Fresh Views” because not only do we share views and practical guidance in the diabetes realm, we also often share inspiring fresh views we’ve experienced in our travels, be it a beautiful sunset, a sandy beach, or towering mountains.

    Getting to know us personally, beyond professionally is important. We believe in the concept of a “therapeutic alliance”- which means that the relationship between health care professionals and people with diabetes is the most important component. So, aside from being passionate diabetes care and education specialists, we are also speakers, authors, wives, moms, adventurers, and avid travelers always in search of the next fresh and magnificent view! We have lots of creative ideas and ways we hope to engage in innovative diabetes education services! 

    Follow us @AFreshPOVforYou on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest and learn more about our fresh views! 

    If you are a healthcare professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 


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