• Fresh Views

    Benefits of Being in Nature

    Teton mountain range in Wyoming

    Nature itself is the best physician.– Hippocrates

    Given that our blog posts are called “Fresh Views”, we are always on the lookout for opportunities to experience these views first hand. You may have read a previous blog where we talked about “imprinting” these fresh views so they’ll stay with us forever. Given the season, we wanted to share some of the benefits we find in nature by sharing some beautiful photos from our time in the great outdoors that have allowed us to reduce our anxiety, improve our mood, and promote a sense of calm for both of us.

    With summer in full swing, we’re both enjoying the opportunity to spend more time in nature. Did you know that there are many benefits of being in nature? Whether for an hour, a day or a week, we find so many benefits spending time in nature. And there is actually scientific evidence that identifies many beneficial effects from spending time in nature and the impact it has on health, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving one’s mental health, and promoting healing. Studies show that 120 minutes spread out over the week may be the ideal amount of time. 

    While we both love our dramatic mountain scenery and listening to the ocean waves crash on the sand, even a local park or garden can do the trick. Any place that gives your mind a break, provides time to reflect on what’s going well for you, gives you the freedom to think of other things in your life that are also going well, and consider how you can do more of that. We find that our mood immediately improves and our sense of self improves.

    Tami and her husband spent some time in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks earlier this summer. Surreal beauty. Coincidentally, Deb is headed to Grand Teton later this summer too.

    Yellowstone National Park

    The cool breeze, peace, and reflection of the mountains was so calming and brought a smile to their faces. This was definitely an image they  imprinted.

    Yellowstone National Park thermal hot spring

    On this trip, Tami and Mike got far more than recommended 120 minutes of being in nature! The thermal hot springs are fascinating and offer other-worldly beauty! Focusing on them and the mountains provided a mental break from the demands of daily life.

    A mother goose protecting her 6 babies under her wings from the rain. Don’t miss the couple of curious goslings sticking their heads out!

    Sunrise in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

    Sunrise in Jackson Hole, Wyoming over a creek where otters were playing. A time to reflect on and appreciate the many sights from the day prior, think about other things in life that are going well, and look forward to what the current day will bring.

    Deb is fortunate to have a California State Park at the end of her street.  She enjoys weekend morning walks along Folsom Lake. On a clear day she can see the  snowy mountains from Lake Tahoe in the distance, and in the spring the lavender Lupine super bloom is often breathtaking. Taking these walks really gives her mind a break and provides an opportunity to reflect and simply enjoy the beauty of nature so readily in her reach.

    View of Sierra Nevada Mountain Range from Folsom Lake, CA
    Lupine Super Bloom, along the shores of Folsom Lake, CA

    And when summer arrives and the lake is full, there is nothing better than being in a boat on the lake, anchoring in a cove, and enjoying the cool water on a hot 105 degree June day. It’s amazing how relaxing with the beautiful scenery around you can really promote calm and lift one’s mood almost instantaneously.

    Enjoying a later afternoon boat ride and a dip in the cool water on a 105 degree day

    While Deb and Mark really look forward to their week in Wyoming and viewing the majesty of the Grand Tetons, they appreciate the nature that is nearby that can provide a much needed respite from the daily grind of life.

    We hope these images of nature have inspired you to find rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation with nature this summer, whether near or far.

    If you would like to try to imprint the images you see, follow these easy steps:

    1. When you find yourself gazing at a striking view or in a most memorable uplifting  moment…pause. Be present in the moment.
    2. Take a deep breath in and a cleansing breath out.
    3. 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).
    4. Then take time to appreciate and acknowledge what you see before you and are experiencing (many liken this to having an “attitude of gratitude”).
    5. 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.

    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

    Deb is employed by Dexcom, but her words and opinions in this blog are her own.

    Tami is employed by the University of Kentucky HealthCare Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center, but her words and opinions in this blog are her own.

  • Fresh Views

    Diabetes Technology and Solution-Focused Practice: Meditation and Mindfulness Apps

    Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.- Jon Kabat-Zinn

    Lake Como in Italy. This view from our travels there a few years back we always find calm, peaceful, and a reminder to live in the moment and be mindful.

    This week in our Diabetes Technology and Solution-Focused Practice series we’re discussing the value of meditation and mindfulness apps in solution-focused practice. You may have seen the results of a meta-analysis recently published in Diabetic Medicine which showed that mindfulness and acceptance-based approaches to diabetes education may more effectively reduce A1C levels, anxiety, depression, and diabetes distress than education as usual. This impact was noted both immediately and up to 1-month post intervention. In helping your clients find what works for them, and build on that, meditation and mindfulness apps can be another tool in your solution-focused “tool box”. 

    Do you encourage your clients with diabetes to use meditation and mindfulness apps? There’s certainly no shortage of options these days! Over the last few years, more than 2000 new meditation apps have rolled out, with even more new options as a result of increased demand during the pandemic. And who doesn’t welcome those that are free! 

    5 FABULOUS FREE MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS APPS

    These 5 apps are free, with several of them also having premium paid versions with extra content and capability. We find that the free versions are helpful to be able to get a taste of the app and it’s approach, with the option to move on to the premium version with expanded content options, if desired.

    Smiling mind. (Available for iOS) This app not only provides opportunity to take a break from life stresses through meditation, it guides in incorporating mindfulness practice throughout the day through “activities” like journaling or audio prompts bringing attention to your senses by counting things that can be seen, felt, heard, smelled and tasted. Pretty cool! There are a number of “programs” related to stress management and sleep.

    UCLA Mindful. (Available for iOS and Android). The name says it all. Heavily grounded in the science of mindfulness, this app developed by the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), features a variety of meditations in English and Spanish. There are sessions as short as 3 minutes long and some up to a half hour long that they refer to as “podcasts”. This app can help one practice self-kindness, work through challenging emotions, as well as focus on other areas.

    MyLife Meditation. (Available for iOS and Android). You may have been familiar with this award-winning app as Stop, Think, & Breathe, which it was formerly named. There is a section focused on what mindfulness is and why it’s beneficial. We’re fans of the fact that each day when you open the app, you’re asked to “take a breath” and check in with yourself, then rate how your mind and body are on a scale of “rough” to “great”. Based on emotions you’re feeling that you select from lists of words, the app then recommends guided sessions according to those feelings. (Premium paid version also available).

    Insight Timer. (Available for iOS, Android, and web) Tami uses this on her phone. This app offers over 90,000 free guided meditations. Topics covered include anxiety, stress, sleep, mindfulness, relationships, insightful talks, and much, much more. Sometimes for quieter mindfulness and focus, she’ll use the feature where you can simply set a timer and focus or meditate to  calming ambient noise or calming music. (Premium paid version also available)

    Calm. (Available for iOS, Android, and web) Tami downloaded this free during an offer early into the pandemic. There currently is a free trial with a premium paid version.  Calm includes meditation and sleep stories focused on improving sleep quality, reducing stress and anxiety, improving focus, and overall self-improvement. Deb uses the Premium version specifically for the nightly sleep stories. She really enjoys the simple yet calming stories to help her fall asleep. Yes, they are not stories that are engaging and exciting, but that’s the plan. The goal is to not have your brain try to engage, but to relax and prepare to sleep.  

    During this crazy and chaotic year, creating opportunities to calm your mind and create opportunities to support a peaceful bedtime or a stress-free break in the middle of the work  day is very important.  

    How can you support your clients to develop positive mindfulness habits?

    We suggest striving for open and frank discussions with clients when meeting with them. Ask about their mental and emotional health to identify if a mindfulness app might help them.

    1. An easy way to move towards this conversation is to ask about their sleep patterns and quality? If they are having trouble sleeping you might ask them if an app might be an option they would consider.
    2. Ask about their anxiety level. Is Anxiety impacting their ability to make healthy behavior changes? If the answer is yes, continue to ask probing questions to identify what they are willing to do to make health behavior changes.  Remember, one small change in the direction of their goals will lead to more changes in the future.

    It may be beneficial to revisit this past year, explore how they’ve grown and changed, and consider what’s next and how to move forward. Mindfulness and meditation apps can be helpful in managing stress, diabetes distress, anxiety, and depression to ultimately help impact blood glucose and improve happiness and quality of life. 

    May is Mental Health Awareness month so a great opportunity to think about ways to encourage healthy habits.

    We plan to continue to write about a variety of other technologies that impact and influence diabetes care and education including diabetes apps, digital health tools, diabetes devices, online peer support and online coaching. Stop back by in 2 weeks to see what’s up next!

    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. 

    Deb is employed by Dexcom, but her words and opinions in this blog are her own.

    Tami is employed by the University of Kentucky HealthCare Barnstable Brown DIabetes Center, but her words and opinions in this blog are her own.

%d bloggers like this: