Fresh Views

Flipping the Paradigm: Applying a Solution-Focused Approach to Healthy Coping

In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers. ~ Fred Rogers

Getting some “beach therapy”

Today we greet you from our first @AFreshPOVforYou writing retreat! “Writing Retreat”…those are BIG words that have been more than a year in our minds, and are now a reality as we sit across the table from each other drafting the content for our first book!  No small feat, but one we are excited about! We are passionate about taking a solution-focused approach to life with diabetes…so let your mind imagine just what this book may be about. We’ll share some sneak peeks as things move along.  

Now back to our to our blog…

Welcome to week 3 of our 7-week series on applying a solution-focused approach to the AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors for managing diabetes. This series is focusing on “flipping” the conversation from a “problem focused” (traditional medical) approach to a solution-focused conversation. Have you tried any “flips” in the past 2 weeks? Please let us know if you have, and what your experience was. 

Last week we shared about taking a solution-focused approach to Being Active – you can read it here. And the week prior we focused on Healthy Eating here. Today we’re concentrating on Healthy Coping

AADE7 Self Care Behavior #3: Healthy Coping

It goes without saying that stress is a part of life…family stressors, work stressors, financial stressors, health-related stressors…at times it might seem like stress is all there is. Add to that the relentless demands of diabetes. The combination can bring a variety of coping challenges and ultimately impact self-care. On the flip side, there are many positive ways to deal with stress and cope with life with diabetes in a healthy manner. It’s all about having a tool-box of resources or tactics to pull out or call upon needed. Here are 6 ways that resonate with us to give you ideas:

  1. 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 our writing effort).
  2. Take a break. It might be taking a walk on the beach or simply having a cup of coffee and listening to the waves hit the sand (as we were in the photo above…wishing we were there now!). Or you might enjoy curling up in a comfy chair and reading a book. Or standing and stretching, taking deep breaths inhaling and exhaling slowly.
  3. Use positive affirmations. When life is feeling especially challenging, we’ve found that practicing “daily affirmations” greatly helps us: I can do this. I am strong. Each moment brings choice. I will not hold onto bitterness.I can live an overflowing life. An affirmation is a short, positive statement that you say to yourself to build yourself up. 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.
  4. Get enough sleep. In our experience, many people discount the value of sleep. When chronically sleep deprived the stress response can be even greater. (yep, we’re getting our zzz’s this week!)
  5. Spend time with people that make you happy. 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. Maybe it’s getting together with a friend for lunch. Whenever we are together we have lots of fun and laughter. That is one way we cope with stress.  
  6. Practice gratitude. You can read more about this in a blog we wrote on gratitude here.  

When working with clients instead of focusing on what is not working well or what is “wrong”, here are 3 illustrations of how to flip the conversation:

Try this: How do you manage on the most challenging days with diabetes to keep moving forward?

Instead of this:  Managing diabetes requires a lot of time and effort. It’s something you just have to do.

Try this: On the nights you’ve been able to get to bed earlier and get more sleep, how were you able to do that? How did you feel the following morning?

 Instead of this: You mentioned you’re only getting 5 hours of sleep each night. You need to get to bed earlier. 

Try this: Where is your stress level around ____ on a scale of 1-10? What would it take to reduce it 1 point? What do you need to accomplish that? How can I support you?

Instead of this: You just need to stop thinking about this issue and move forward.

Focus most of the time and energy on thinking about and discussing what is already good, effective, and successful then leverage that to identify solutions.

When you meet again, here is a 3-step follow-up approach to try:

Try to incorporate this approach with clients to reframe conversations and see if you can help them to focus on the exceptions (those times when the “problem” could have occurred but somehow did not) and their desired future state, rather than ruminating on what is not working.

  • Step 1 – Have you seen any improvements since we last met? (if yes, ask about it. If not, go to step 2)
  • Step 2 – Have you noticed times when the problem (defined using the clients own words) did not occur or happened less? (here you are identifying exceptions. If yes, ask about it. If no, go to step 3)
  • Step 3 – Describe for me what would be different if the problem had been solved? (this is the Miracle Question approach we’ve written about many times. Here and here are two of them)

The solution-focused decision tree is adapted from Fredrike Bannik’s 1001 Solution-Focused Questions.

We challenge you each week to try incorporating some flips into your conversations and let us know what impact they have.

Join us next week as we discuss a solution focused-approach to Monitoring

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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. 

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