“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.” ― Gever Tulley
Can you believe we find ourselves in the middle of November already? November is diabetes awareness month and the activities and events that take place create an opportunity to heighten awareness of diabetes care, education, and health outcomes.
Each year on November 14 World Diabetes Day (WDD) is celebrated, with global themes to improve access to critical medicine, care and therapeutics. This year’s theme is the role of the nurse in diabetes care. In many parts of the world, the nurse is frequently the healthcare professional that helps manage people with diabetes, especially in remote and rural parts of the world with limited health care access.
The goals of this year’s WDD emphasis include the following:
- to raise awareness of the critical role nurses play in the lives of people with diabetes
- to recognize the need for more nurses
- for nurses to educate themselves about caring for people with diabetes
You can read more about this year’s activities here.
We @AFreshPOVforYou want to acknowledge that nurses are especially important members of the healthcare team in the midst of the global pandemic! We see the role that nurses play every day as front line workers and appreciate all they do! For those providing direct care to people with COVID-19…what resilience to get up every day and go into work…not only facing the challenges of day-to-day work, but often acting also as a support person, and at times a surrogate family member.
TODAY’S WORD IS RESILIENCE
This month-long focus on diabetes awareness, brings about the opportunity to touch on one of the skills essential for people with diabetes to develop in order to live well with diabetes. That skill is resilience. And yes, resilience is a skill. We think about resilience as the ability to “bounce back” after challenging times. It’s having inner strength when life throws you challenges and still being able to hold your head up.
People who see themselves as being resilient are typically those who have suffered adversity, faced significant challenges and were able to come out of their struggles stronger and with a different perspective on life. Often those who have faced the biggest challenges are the most resilient. Living with a chronic condition like diabetes means living with chronic stress, and that can make managing diabetes more challenging. That’s where building resilience comes into play.
While some believe that one is either resilient or not, research shows that resilience is a skill that can be developed over time with practice and support. And when a diabetes care and education specialist – whether a nurse like Deb, a dietitian like Tami, or other diabetes health-care professional – engages in a solution-focused approach to practice, the ability to build resilience is not only possible, but highly likely.
When we reinforce and recognize positive behaviors and strengths, people tend to do more of those things more often. In solution-focused practice we call these “exceptions” or times when problems don’t exist and life is working well.
In our recent research we learned about resilience. Participants in our study described resilience as strength, optimism, stubbornness and persistence. People acknowledge they have no choice to move forward with diabetes management. One participant acknowledged “stubbornness and persistence. They seem to pay off (sometimes) I’d say resilience too, but that is a moveable feast and very noticeable when absent.” This comment really made us think about the need to support the development of resilience.
Cultivating resilience is critical in diabetes, especially in those who are not more naturally inclined to recognize their resilience. A friend of Deb’s that lives with diabetes shared a story where she accidentally gave a very large insulin bolus via her pump, almost her total daily dose of insulin at one time. While completely stressed and nervous, she texted Deb who immediately called her to help her problem solve. She spent the next four hours on the phone while eating more carbs than she had in the previous month, but was determined not to go to the ER. She wanted to take charge and manage the situation. So that stubbornness really paid off. She never went below 70. With the help of her continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and support, she was able to manage the situation. While the day was extremely stressful, she was able to think through her options and what they meant to her. While this situation is unique and not a frequent occurrence, it does help to identify a need for planning for challenges. A key focus in resilience is on recognizing stressors and building plans to work through the stressful situations and setbacks and come out on the other side feeling successful, even if it is just one very small success.
EACH WEEK WE INVITE READERS TO PARTICIPATE IN A SOLUTION-FOCUSED CHALLENGE… This week, we challenge you to support your clients to develop their own resilience. Here are 4 ideas to try:
- Start all engagements with positive statements with focus on the individual’s strengths and what’s working well for them (even if it’s not directly related to their diabetes management).
- Encourage small personal experiments to gain small wins. Every significant step forward towards goals is a step in the right direction. Recognize and celebrate these small steps. (Such as increasing time-in-range of 70-180 mg/dL from 50% to 55% or fitting in an extra 5 minutes of activity several days).
- Encourage your clients to engage in peer support whether in person or online. Help them learn how to seek support from others living with diabetes. Let them know that when they acknowledge their challenges and talk through them, they will often feel a sense of relief.
- Help clients to identify their VIPs (very important people in their life) who they can rely on for support. Sometimes it may be simply someone to listen to challenges. But, we also need people in our lives that “challenge us” and encourage us to see our true selves. Often we need different support people to play these different roles.
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Deb is an employee of Dexcom but all comments are her own.