“Solitude is where one discovers one is not alone.” –Marty Rubin
We love animals, and believe in the therapy pets can provide. We also believe we can learn from them.
One of Deb’s cats has a secret drawer where she hides when life gets a little too stressful. She’ll use that alone time to calm down, and when she’s ready, she’ll come out and face the world again. Her resource to foster her strengths is a secret drawer. It’s her stress management.
Do you ever feel like you need a “secret drawer”, where you can think about things and reframe your focus on things that are going well? (Check out our January 2, 2019 post for more thoughts on reframing).
Are you someone who re-energizes by taking some alone time? Or by spending time in a group? If you’ve ever completed a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Personality Test you understand this concept. In Myers-Briggs, an introvert replenishes their energy with much needed alone time, because their energy is drained when with a group (which differs from the common thought that introverts are simply quiet and shy). An extrovert, however, needs to be around others to “fill their tank” and recharge.
When employing a solution focused approach to help others create solutions, it’s key to understand how people re-energize. To help flush this out, we can explore where they get their strength from? How they have coped in the past? How they have managed? When they answer these questions, it’s then possible to identify the type of solution they have engaged in, and encourage them to engage in these helpful behaviors more often. Keep in mind, when using a solution focused approach, the solutions do not have to be directly related to any identified problem. The focus is on what the desired future for the individual is, and pinpointing how to move in that direction. So when things are going well, we want to encourage engaging in behaviors from that time, more often.
What resources can you pull from when you need a secret drawer? If a little down time helps reduce stress or gives your mind the bandwidth to think and identify solutions, then take a secret drawer break. Or, maybe going out with people is what you need. Maybe you need a little of both, depending on the day.
A secret drawer may help you focus on and identify your solutions.
With the holidays in full swing at the time of this post, and carols in the air, the lyrics to a popular holiday song about “making a list and checking it twice” struck a chord with us. Not only does making a list and checking it twice help jolly Old Saint Nicholas keep up with who is “naughty or nice”, evidence shows that making lists lends a number of benefits.
While we @AFreshPOVforYou are personally super fans of lists (especially “to do” lists!), many clients have shared the value they personally find in making lists as well. One client took two days off work to make lists, organize her home, and run errands, noting that it helped her feel calmer. She’s noticed she’s physically and mentally healthier when doing this.
There are many kinds of lists. And whether they’re compiled on a post it note, piece of paper, in an app, in the Notes on your phone, in an electronic document, on a whiteboard, by asking Alexa or Google, or whatever method works for you…the goal is to get information and clutter out of your head and placed somewhere else to refer back to. Making lists can help bring a fresh perspective and point of view on life situations, including life with diabetes.
Here are 7 other benefits of making lists:
Reduces mental clutter. If a thought is written down or documented where you can easily refer back to it, then you no longer have to waste mental energy and capacity thinking about it. And that directly leads to benefit #2.
Reduces stress. With lists you can see what needs to happen without having to try to remember or fear you will forget.
Allows you to prioritize and allocate time most efficiently. You can separate minutia from what matters.
Helps maintain focus to get things done and combat avoidance, which is particularly helpful when feeling overloaded.
Serves as a valuable communication tool. Whether lists of questions for your health care team at the next visit. Lists of carbohydrate content of favorite holiday foods. Lists of home repair tasks you need a family member to help with. You get the idea.
Brings a sense of purpose and accomplishment when marking things off the list.
Promotes inner calm (not only during the holidays, but beyond). And undoubtedly that can translate into positive health impacts on blood pressure and blood glucose.
List making does offer an opportunity for creativity as well. While some prefer a plain “get it done” checklist, others may prefer a splash of creativity making lists “pretty” via formatting, spacing, color, and font choice. That can enhance calming for some.
While there are many types of lists, here are 10 types of lists that we’ve found valuable in our clients’ every day lives, and in our personal lives, to help calm and conquer (in no particular order):
To do or task lists. A simple running list of things to accomplish. Seeing allows planning and executing them better.
Accomplishments. Include even the little things – they add to feeling accomplished.
Worries. Putting thoughts and feelings into words by writing them down has a calming effect on the brain.
Gratitude lists. It’s easy to fixate on the things not going well. Rather by turning focus to the good things going on in life, one may become more optimistic and less anxious. When it comes to managing diabetes, for those that may use continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) for instance – rather than focusing on blood glucose out of range, noting gratitude for time in range. What was going on at that time? How can you do that more often?
Hopes/Life lists/Bucket lists. These are things that you’d like to do, see, or experience. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day routine and forget about the bigger picture.
Questions for your health care team. Going to a visit with a list of questions in hand can help insure you get the information you need.
Shopping lists. One client made an electronic list of all the groceries he bought routinely and arranged it in the order he’d find the items at the store. He’d leave room for additions. Each week, he’d print it off, cross off anything not needed, and add anything not on the list, then go shopping. He found the shopping list template stress-reducing by not having to “re-create” a shopping list each week. And heading into the store armed with an organized shopping list helped him get in and out of the store faster.
Self-care lists. These are things you can do just for you. So whenever you have even just a few minutes, you have inspiration and ideas at hand. The goal is to help remind you to make the time for self-care. And, you can’t look after anyone else without looking after yourself first.
Menu lists. A list of tried and true dinner meals that work for you saves so much brain power! No wondering what the carb count is or what to buy at the store. You have ideas in front of you. You may decide to add breakfast, lunch and snacks to the list too.
Health logs. Considering that a log is basically a list of events tied to specific dates and times, keeping a list of exercise achievements, blood glucose readings, food consumption, or medication doses for instance, can help measure progress and identify opportunities for change.
Keep lists handy and refer to them often. Which lists could help you calm, conquer, and realize a fresh perspective on life?
The holiday season is in full swing! December travels included a stop in New York City. What’s a trip to New York in December without a visit to the Rockefeller Center tree? Always a magical sight to get you in the holiday spirit!
We are big fans of musicals, so seeing one on any trip to New York City is high on the list. A few friends recommended a somewhat unlikely musical that received rave reviews (and a Tony Award!). A musical which really requires one to think differently about the interpretation of life’s events. The show is “Come From Away” Maybe you’ve heard of it? At the core, it is a story about the power of kindness and generosity of strangers during a horrific time in the world, the first 5 days following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States.
To briefly recap, the setting is Gander, Newfoundland – a remote island with a “retired” military post from WWII and an old refueling station for transatlantic flights (before planes were large enough to carry all needed fuel). When the U.S. airspace was closed to inbound flights following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 38 jumbo jets were diverted to Gander. This town of 9,000 nearly doubled in population as an additional 6,759 passengers became refugees so to speak – unable to leave or to even get their luggage off the planes for 5 days. Along with them were 9 cats, 11 dogs, and 2 rare apes (one who was pregnant). The town affectionately called these individuals the “Plane People”, and put aside their worries and issues to care for these tired and terrified fellow humans. Local residents cooked food all night long. Stores donated medicine, supplies, diapers and toilet paper, while others donated clothing. School buses provided transportation to shelters and even private homes. During this horrific time, while deep sadness was everywhere (one woman lost her son, a New York City Firefighter), friendships were formed. One couple would even later marry and return to Gander for their honeymoon. When the time came to leave, the “Plane People” asked how much money they owed the people of Gander, and were told, “Nothing. You’d do the same for us!”
This tragic event in U.S. history was translated into a certainly unlikely – and yet successful – Broadway musical. How did the creator, Michael Rubinoff, think this would work? According to Mr. Rubinoff, “Well, not many people shared that vision to turn this into a musical. It’s not obvious.” Building on that, when times are challenging and solutions are not obvious, it’s easy to feel down. One of those challenging (and stressful) times can be the holiday season. Add onto that the impact of managing diabetes and life can be downright overwhelming. (Be sure to check out our next blog where we’ll share one tried and true strategy to reduce stress). Yet during this often stressful holiday “season of giving”, there is some encouraging news. Did you know that giving to others may actually be good for your health? Giving is linked with reduced stress, less depression, lower blood pressure, and feeling happy. Giving back can be a helpful strategy or solution to manage holiday stress. A solution that may not seem obvious. We believe giving can help build resilience.
We witness giving in the diabetes community all of the time. So many people living with diabetes are advocates and educate others. They create fundraising campaigns like Life for a Child to provide insulin for children across the world without access. And we’ve seen posts on social media where someone runs out of diabetes supplies and within minutes, a stranger in a far off state connects with that person to share and provide support. When you have a couple of minutes, take a look at this special video from Diabetes What to Know about “paying it forward” and sharing the gift of education as well as the benefits of learning from others living with diabetes.
So during this holiday giving season, will you join us in reflecting on the impact of the people of Gander and channel that in some small way by giving back? Whether giving back to the diabetes community, or others you cross paths with that are facing life challenges. How can we all support, help, or encourage, as did the residents of Gander? There are many opportunities. It can be as simple as calling a friend and meeting them for coffee, even when you are feeling short on time. Or donating to a worthy organization that means something to you. Or as Ellen Degeneres says, simply “Be kind to one another.” We’ll all feel better in the end!
On Wednesday, November 14, 2018, World Diabetes Day, @AFreshPOVforYou was honored to moderate the 7:00 pm ET hour of the #WDD2018 Twitter Chat for #DSMA. Thank you to Cherise Shockley for allowing us to engage with the DOC on such an important evening.The questions put before participants were thoughtfully planned so that the information gained could be used in a small research study. In the near future, we look forward to sharing some of our learnings.
We were thrilled with the participation and the depth of the responses to our “miracle question” exercise (See our previous blog posts to learn about “the miracle question” and a bit about Solution Focused Brief Therapy [SFBT])
There were 32 participants who created 358 Tweets and generated 1.54 million impressions! Wow! If you’re familiar with Twitter Chats, search the #DSMA hashtag for all of posts between 7:00 pm ET and 8:00 pm ET on November 14, 2018 to follow the conversation.
An overarching goal of the Twitter Chat was to explore the perceptions of the diabetes online community (or DOC for short) on the miracle question approach to strengthen resilience and confidence needed to manage diabetes. As usual, the DOC is incredibly insightful and we learned so much.
Here’s a sneak peak at the many thoughts shared during our discussion.
We look forward to moderating a future #DSMA Twitter Chat in 2019 as we delve deeper into incorporating SFBT in diabetes care and education. Stay tuned!
The language used in healthcare has such a significant impact on how a person living with diabetes FEELS about living with diabetes and how they trust and engage with healthcare professionals.
If you already know us, you know we support the language movement and encourage everyone to think about language in a new and fresh way. When we drafted the scripts for the two #LanguageMatters videos (links on our web page on the lower right and in the blog post) that’s when we began to think about creating A Fresh POV for You because we knew there were more opportunities to impact the diabetes community in a new and positive way.
Here are a few quick and easy suggestions, that while simple can be a game changer and help stop the blame, shame, stigma and judgement often associated with diabetes.
Instead of using words like adherence and compliance, focus on what the person is actually doing to manage their diabetes. You can ask about when and how they are taking their medication, focusing on their strengths instead of judging behaviors.
Refrain from using language that implies the person living with diabetes is unmotivated or doesn’t care. Instead, recognize the time required to manage a chronic condition and appreciate the hard work they are doing every day.
Replace the word diabetic with person living with diabetes all of the time! (However, a person living with diabetes can choose the language that best suits them.)
As we suggest in the blog mentioned earlier, language choice is a habit, and just like anything else, it takes a little practice to change behavior! If you start to think about diabetes management from a solution focused approach you will naturally use language that is strengths based and action oriented, and not focused on blame. We can embrace a healthier way of talking about diabetes by changing perspectives on language and the impact it has on anyone living with diabetes. Let’s create fresh, new behaviors because #LanguageMatters!
At the close of our prior blog post we mentioned imprinting, and promised to share more with you on that. So here we go…
While imprint has several definitions, those that resonate with us at A Fresh POV for You are “to fix firmly on the mind/memory” or “to make an impression; have an effect.” So, with that said, here’s how imprinting works:
When you find yourself gazing at a striking view or in a most memorable uplifting moment…pause. Be present in the moment.
Take a deep breath in and a cleansing breath out.
Gaze at the view – noting where you are and who you are with. Take in colors, lighting, sounds, smells (maybe even taste if it’s food or beverage related).
Then take time to appreciate and acknowledge what you see before you and are experiencing (many liken this to having an “attitude of gratitude”).
Allow that view or moment – every detail – along with those positive feelings to etch into your mind’s eye so you can recall them in the future.
You see below two memorable views that we have both firmly imprinted in our minds. These photos were taken by the shore of Lake Como in Italy several years ago. The photo of us together was snapped on a cool September evening. We sat with our husbands, sipping a glass of Italian wine, talking about life for several hours, just enjoying each other’s friendship while watching the clouds drop over the mountains, feeling the cool breeze as dusk began to settle in, and listening to the waves lap and church bells toll across the lake. That spectacular view and those special moments in time are deeply etched (imprinted) in our minds.
When life is challenging (or just downright hard and painful), we try to turn our thoughts back to happy moments and picturesque views like this. We even keep pictures of some of our imprinted views on our phones so not only our mind’s eye but our actual eye can prompt us and help take us back. In our experience, this philosophy – or mental tool if you will – can build resilience while allowing your thoughts to take a break and refocus in a positive manner.
You (or those in your circle) may also find imprinting helpful, particularly when feeling down, stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. With mindfulness and repetition, imprinting may become more automatic. Sometimes we even find ourselves stopping and saying out loud, “Wait, I want to imprint this moment!” Give imprinting a try. Let us know what view or experiences you imprint, and how imprinting works for you.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes. – Marcel Proust
Have you ever felt “at anchor in the harbor,” floating in a particular place, prevented from moving anywhere by the proverbial boat anchor and obstacles surrounding you? Patients and clients living with diabetes that we’ve worked with over the years have frequently shared that managing diabetes leaves them weighted down by the challenges they face moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day. These challenges in turn may lead to feeling stagnant, immovable, with no obvious way to move forward. With that said, the harbor photo taken this week during a pause in the Thanksgiving holiday travels, brought us @AFreshPOVforYou to take a moment and reflect on the above words of Marcel Proust, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes.”
What if rather than focusing on the obstacles and what’s immediately around you, instead you look up. You look about. You see with new eyes. You see the bigger picture (and maybe even a stunning sunset!). When we @AFreshPOVforYou incorporate solution focused brief therapy into life with diabetes, we guide clients to focus on the “desired future,” rather than on past or current problems. We help people take small steps to move in the direction of that desired future – much like pulling up the anchor and setting sail to see what might be possible with new eyes. As Ann Bodmer Lutz, the author of Learning Solution-Focused Therapy notes, “Solutions for patients are not scientific puzzles to be solved by practitioners, but rather changes in perceptions.”
Think about a time when you’ve had success and recall:
What was different then?
How did you feel?
What were you doing or seeing in yourself?
What were your perceptions of things then?
How can you change your perception today so you can move forward again?
Stay tuned to future blog posts as we share stories of success.
Wherever holiday travels take you, we encourage you to take a pause and look around you with new eyes. Then acknowledge and be thankful for any fresh views, beautiful views, or uplifting moments. We call this “imprinting.” We’ll share more about imprinting in our next blog post.
Those of us @AFreshPOVforYou wish you and your family a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving!
While our focus is “fresh views”, today there is nothing “fresh” about the air in northern California or the views in the sky. The devastating Camp Fire in Paradise, CA is beyond words. We felt compelled to share our thoughts since this fire is so close to home for @DebGreenwood.
How can survivors of this fire living with diabetes or other chronic conditions even think about their next steps (never mind taking medication or counting carbohydrates)? The Apple Watch is a reminder every day that the air quality is unhealthy for all, and certainly not suitable for outdoor exercise. So we began to ponder, how can solutions focused brief therapy (SFBT) help those who find themselves in this situation and devastation to move one small step forward, and create hope and possibilities? Admittedly, this is really challenging and we’re struggling to find a way to think through this problem.
SFBT is all about asking questions and helping a person recognize their strengths. A recent blog post by Dr. Anne Bodmer Lutz, A Language of Hope: Top 10 Solution Focused Translations, helps us think about opportunities to support individuals to be future-focused when faced with challenges.
So, one question might be “Who are the most important people in your life and what do you most appreciate about them?” The answer may help one recognize that he or she has a support system around them, and that these important individuals can be a source of strength.
A second question may be “What do you know?” This question focuses on competence. For instance, for a parent of a child with diabetes living under a stressful situation, one might ask,“What do you know about your child that tells you he is going to be okay?”
Another question is the “indirect compliment” where one asks “How did you do it? Or “How did you manage to remember to take your insulin?” By recognizing what has been accomplished and past success, one can feel a sense of empowerment.
One thing learned from Dr. Anne Bodmer Lutz is that “cope” is just one letter away from “hope”.
Those of us at A Fresh POV for You are wishing everyone impacted by these California wildfires all of the possibilities and opportunities for your future.
We are big believers in “collective wisdom”, or rather the ability to learn from a greater community. When sharing thoughts and experiences we can learn from others. Would you agree? As we are delving into the use of Solutions Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) in diabetes we want to engage the DOC in a Twitter chat so we can learn first-hand from those living with diabetes every day!
One practice used in SFBT is called the “miracle question.” This method helps people use the resources they already have and leverage “exceptions”. Exceptions are simply times when life works better, or times when problems are less likely to take over. Focusing on personal “exceptions” means focusing focus on situations that went well in the past, or on positive things learned from past experiences (things maybe even forgotten about). Managing diabetes is challenging. Constant focus on “problems” can eroded confidence. We hear that repeatedly from clients we engage with. By instead focusing on abilities and the possibilities, there are solutions ready to use right in front of us. We can envision the future differently.
So, here is the miracle question: “Suppose tonight while you sleep, a miracle happens. When you wake tomorrow morning, what will you see yourself doing, thinking, or believing, about yourself that will tell you a miracle has happened in your life?” We challenge you to think about it. How would you answer it?
By focusing on “exceptions”, goals become different. Focus turns to what is desired in our life instead of what “won’t happen” anymore. To modify this question for diabetes management, let’s consider the following: If you could fast-forward to a time where you feel satisfied with your diabetes management, what will be different in your life that will let you know things are better?
Weigh in with your thoughts to these questions and others on Wednesday, November 14, 2018, World Diabetes Day, as we moderate the 7:00 pm ET hour of the #WDD2018 for #DSMA. During the chat we will be walking through a modified miracle question exercise to learn from all of you. We have received IRB approval to use the de-identified Twitter Chat data (that means we remove the Twitter handles before we review the data) for a qualitative research study to explore the perceptions of the DOC on incorporating the miracle question approach to strengthen resilience and confidence needed to manage diabetes. (And for those of you that may not be familiar with IRB approval, that just means a review committee applies research ethics by reviewing the proposed research methods to ensure they are ethical). Don’t worry, if you want to participate in the chat, but prefer for us to not use your answers in our research study, you can do that too. We’ll ask who wants to not be included during the chat and will remove your answers.
Please join in the discussion and let’s learn if this approach resonates with you!