Fresh Views

Bringing order to chaos: A solution focused approach

Photo from the home-front. Yes that’s a metal hanger in the washing machine!

Does your life ever feel like this? This was what Tami found when she opened the washer after her son did his first ever load of laundry a few years back! (And don’t worry, he knows this is out there).  How often does life feel the way this picture looks? Things are all mixed up. Things are happening that shouldn’t. Things are where they shouldn’t be, or we don’t want them to be. It’s easy to let our minds dwell on those things.

However, what if instead of focusing on the problem at hand and stressing, we focus on what actually is going well. In this scenario, Tami confesses when she happened upon this sight, at first she was mad. Then she had to laugh. Then she realized, there are actually some things going well here: He did his first load of laundry on his own! He knows how to operate the washer, and measure the detergent (there aren’t bubbles everywhere!). It’s all dark clothes – there are no white items in there. And nothing got torn by the hanger. In the end, it worked! The laundry got done. Now he can repeat (minus the hanger!)

Applying this to life with diabetes, do you ever look at your blood glucose and feel like everything is in chaos? This reminds us of “John”…. a few years back he brought his blood glucose log into his appointment. When asked how are things going? What’s been going well this past month? He immediately pulled out his log and proclaimed with excitement…”Look at this one week!” All blood glucose checks were in range that one week, as compared to the other three weeks where he was overall significantly above range. Rather than focusing on those values out of range, instead the focus turned to that one week in range. How did he achieve that? What was going on? He realized that was the week he was on vacation! His stress level was much lower. He made the connection that stress raises his blood glucose and less stress means lower blood glucose for him. It was a moment of realization for him! And a driver of change to incorporate more self-care and mindful focus on stress management when he is not on vacation. He decided to use his Fitbit to track his sleep to ensure he slept 7 hours every night.  He also used a mindfulness app to take 5-10 minutes every day to clear his head during the most stressful time of the day at work. While vacation may be an easier time to take good care of himself, he knew there were small changes he could make to move more in the direction he wanted to go. He was successful in bringing order to chaos with a solution focused approach.

A beautiful, and orderly, row of painted houses, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Now we know what you might be thinking…….if only my healthcare provider (HCP) would do the same and focus on those “exceptions” or things that are going well too. Maybe you can lead your next medical conversation in a similar style to John’s? Before you mention a problem you may be having, start by telling your HCP what you’re happy about and something positive about your diabetes management. You can tell him or her that you’ve learned about a solutions focused approach that resonates with you and you’d like to try to do more things that are going well for you. (You could share our blog post about building a therapeutic alliance with your team!) When you focus more things that ARE working well, there is less time to engage in habits or practices that are not working so well.

We know nothing is ever perfect and that chaos will sometimes rear its ugly head. That’s life with diabetes. So, when you’re feeling like you need to re-focus and reframe, call on those tried and true solutions that work for you.  Keep a list of 3 things to do every time you feel that you need more order in your life. (Re-read our post on making lists here!) Or try to see things from a new perspective. Learn what works for you!

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