• 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


    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

    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

    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

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