• Fresh Views

    Top 10 Things 2020 Taught Us

    We were happy to see the sun set on 2020! 

    Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb, but how well you bounce. – Vivian Komori

    It’s been said that “Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.” That pretty much sums up 2020! We’ve all learned to “bounce” through the multitude of challenges before us this past year. Yet, through it all there were many positives that we @AFreshPOVforYou personally realized during those unprecedented days. And one of those positives was celebrating the second birthday of this blog!

    WHO ARE WE? 

    If you are new to our blog, we are solution-focused diabetes care and education specialists. We are passionate about doing diabetes care and education differently. Too much of life is spent focusing on problems. Instead, we believe in turning attention to possibilities, opportunities, and a fresh vision for the future. We see the benefit in stepping alongside our clients as “think partners” to focus on what’s important to them, what’s already going well, and build upon that to reach their goals so that they may live life to the fullest. We invite you to join us in doing the same if this is a new paradigm for you. We are advocates for person-centered, strengths-based language, and believe that self-compassion is essential when living with a chronic condition. 

    OUR MISSION

    As we welcome the new year, our Mission continues to be that We guide healthcare professionals in taking a solution-focused approach to practice to enable clients with diabetes to embrace possibilities, opportunities, and a fresh vision for the future.

    Our interest and passion around taking a solution-focused approach to practice (and life), means acknowledging what has gone well, acknowledging how that success was achieved, then identifying how to do more of that and build upon that moving forward.

    TOP 10 THINGS THAT 2020 TAUGHT US (in no particular order)

    1. Importance of connection with others and having support. We don’t take the human touch for granted after living through 2020. We learned that connection and support comes in many different forms. We found creative easy ways to Keep Friends Close, as well as family, through Zoom virtual happy hours, virtual graduations, virtual birthday celebrations; hugs through windows; and drive by celebrations. Find 5 ways to guide your clients to engage in ongoing diabetes support here.
    1. Do hard things early in the day to feel accomplished. We both work the best in the morning. While we’ve known this, it was never quite so clear as it was in 2020. We did the “hard” work early in the day when our minds were freshest, so that we felt accomplished. The stressful days left us tired and spent by days end, and after dinner to help us relax and “escape” we could often be found indulging in Netflix, Prime, and others (who knew you needed so many streaming channels?). We identified a time when things were working well (in the morning) and tried to do more of it. When working with clients, try to identify when they think the clearest and encourage them to focus on their diabetes at that time. Help them identify their “Exceptions”, those times when things are going well. If your client wears a CGM, help them identify a quiet time to retrospectively review their CGM reports to identify patterns and trends and develop 1-2 small behavior changes to move then towards their goals by “doing more of what is working well.”
    1. We CAN be healthy. While many have gained the “COVID 19 pounds”, and may have been over indulging during the past several months, we learned that we could continue to adopt healthy habits, even during a stay at home order. Deb likes and has been focusing on the Mediterranean eating plan that includes lots of healthy fruits and vegetables with less red meat. She also decided to go back to using her WW (formerly Weight Watchers) app to help her track her food, activity and sleep. Tami purchased an under desk elliptical machine to help keep her active during the week, and spent time enjoying great outdoor walking trails on the weekends while social distancing. While in ways it has been challenging being home so much, we learned that it can also be healthy. When eating at home there’s more control over the ingredients added to recipes. There also may be a little more time to prepare meals, or do “meal prep” for the week. Read more tips here.
    1. There are many possibilities, we just have to identify them. With restaurants closed and outside entertainment challenging, we quickly began to think of out of the box possibilities. Deb and her husband decided to have a “car picnic” after they picked up wine at a local winery. From the front seat of their car they could see the peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains while enjoying a picnic lunch and a cool glass of Rose. On the work front, taking a solution-focused approach to diabetes care and education can be a fresh new start and bring possibilities to light. Gather some tips from our blog here.
    1. Keep a mindset focused on finding solutions (rather than focusing on problems). We learned that in matters big and small, diabetes-related or not, by embracing a mindset that focuses on solutions, and channeling energy into leveraging strengths and possibilities, we can cultivate a solution-focused mindset. One that envisions success. One which helps manage stress. In our blog you’ll find 7 strategies you can use to step alongside your clients and support them in embracing a solution-focused mindset and managing stress.
    1. Acceptance and gratitude. While social distancing and stay at home orders in 2020 kept us from living out our plans for the year, we eventually came to accept that, and focus on what we could do and find gratitude and happiness in that. Read our tips on developing acceptance as a personal strength and helping cultivate it in others in our blog here, and tips to get started with daily gratitude practice here.
    1. The joy in giving. With life moving at a little slower pace, Tami found joy in giving to others. Small surprise “porch drops” on family and friends’ porches to brighten their day. Dropping by bags of food to be distributed to those in need in the community. She even took up baking bread as surprise drop-offs to those who would enjoy it. With the news coverage of families without food, Deb’s family and her workplace donated to www.feedingamerica.org on multiple occasions to support those in need. Sparking Joy in life and in diabetes education is an important element of our mission.
    1. Active listening is critical. With our daily Zoom meetings and family gatherings we learned that listening is crucial. It can be challenging to not “talk over” people when the virtual conversation includes many individuals. We couldn’t have “side bar” conversations unless they were by text or personal chat. We couldn’t read body language easily. Read more about how listening in a solution-focused practice can support the process of becoming a “think partner” with your clients.
    1. Resilience can be developed. How many virtual conferences or meetings have you attended in 2020? We attended more than we can count, and who knew just how successful they could be! While we missed the ability to be face-to-face with our friends and colleagues, we appreciated the opportunity to continue to learn and conduct business. We just kept going! That is what resilience is all about! Learn how you can build resilience in our blog here.
    1. Power of humor. How could we have survived the past year without humor! Laughing with friends online, reading silly memes on social media, and trying not to take ourselves too seriously. One of our dear colleagues and friends always provides us with comical relief and was no exception in 2020. You can sample our thoughts on humor in our blog here.
    Virtual happy hour laughs!

    2020 was a good teacher! Let’s embrace 2021 with New Year’s “solutions”, rather than “resolutions”

    Our challenge to you as we embark on this new year still facing struggles and uncertainty, is what if, instead of making New Year’s Resolutions this year (which require change and “fixing problems”), you instead guide your clients (and yourself) in making New Year’s Solutions? Who doesn’t like a solution after all? One way to identify solutions is to focus on things that have gone well in the past, and pinpoint how you can do more of that (rather than trying to change). One of the benefits of focusing on what went well, is that you can do it every day. Instead of dwelling on what you didn’t accomplish today, identify what was successful and try to do that “one thing” again tomorrow.

    WHAT’S TO COME? 

    Throughout 2020 we launched a series of posts, each revolving around a “word of the week” to inspire solution-focused thinking and practice. We embrace those words in practice and hope that you’ve found them impactful in your conversations too. What will we write about in 2021? Here are some of our ideas that we may write more about in the months to come: practical coaching tips; building your solution-focused question library; solution-focused behavior change; and incorporating solution-focused principles in a technology-enabled world. We’d love to hear from you, and learn about what you are interested in learning regarding incorporating a solution-focused approach in  your practice!

    We hope that  2021 will be kind to all of us and that together we can learn how to help people with diabetes live their best life!

    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. 

  • Fresh Views

    RESILIENCE: Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

    World Diabetes Day 2020 theme is the Nurse and Diabetes

    “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:

    1. 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).
    2. 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).
    3. 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.
    4. 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.

    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 an employee of Dexcom but all comments are her own.

  • Fresh Views

    HUMOR: Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

    Laughter is an instant vacation. – Milton Berle

    Given the stress, anxiety, and chaos that COVID-19 is still raining upon the world, we’ve been looking for opportunities to laugh and find humor in our everyday world. Earlier this week, that came in the form of a virtual happy hour (pictured above) with dear colleagues at the close of the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (ADCES) virtual meeting. A special shout out to Lorena Drago for being the “hostess with the mostest” and donning a blonde wig and festive party attire for the celebration! 

    You may be super busy these days and have many things on your mind, so we’re hoping today’s blog can help you take a short stress break, identify personal opportunities to laugh, and consider how you can look for moments to incorporate humor in encounters with your clients and diffuse stressful conversations.

    Today’s word is HUMOR: 

    Finding humor and laughter in the everyday world is a key opportunity to reduce stress. Personally, we often feel rejuvenated and ready to face the world again after a good belly laugh or a few silly moments. Suddenly the weight of the world is lifted off our shoulders. 

    Research has shown that not only can humor reduce stress, it can decrease anxiety and fear, and help people cope with challenging situations. Humor can instill a more lighthearted perspective and make challenges seem less threatening. Laughter increases hormones in the body that reduce stress, decrease pain, and can even improve the immune system by supporting T-cell development. Humor can instill a sense of power, especially during times when feeling powerless. In fact, we have documented through our research that humor increases resilience in diabetes management and is a key factor to living well with diabetes. You can read more about the research findings in our recently published research paper, Applying a Solution-Focused Approach to Life With Diabetes: Insights Gleaned via Twitter published in July in The Diabetes Educator journal (). In the study, laughter and humor were described by all participants as essential for overcoming the burden associated with living with a serious chronic condition.Strength and resilience were often equated with a sense of humor when faced with challenging situations

    Here are 5 ways that we have been finding opportunities for humor which we hope may spur some ideas for you and that you can suggest to your clients:

    1 – Get together and laugh with friends: Whether this is via Zoom or in a social-distanced driveway happy hour. Fun virtual backgrounds can add laughter for virtual gatherings.

    2 – Social Media cartoons, memes and videos: We have a couple of friends that also help us start each day with a funny cartoon or meme posted on Facebook. We look forward to that chuckle as we head off to our home office for work. Taking a mid-day break and searching for a good laugh is also good medicine. 

    3 – Binge watch comedy shows: Like Deb, you may have older kids home again with many schools and colleges being virtual. Deb’s found that watching old shows with her daughter has been a great bonding experience and opportunity to laugh. The current binge is Gilmore Girls (now up to Season 3).  Any suggestions for the next show?

    4 – Smile every day,  even when it’s hard: Starting the day off with a smile can help impact your mood.  You’ve heard the old saying “Fake it until you make it.” Well, saying that you’re going to have a good day and find humor in your day can really make a difference.

    5 – Laugh at yourself: If you tend to take everything very serious, especially these days, finding ways to relax a little and laugh at mistakes, misfortunes and circumstances can make life easier. Laughter connects us with others and most people find that laughter is contagious. The picture below candidly caught us sharing contagious laughter a few years back. This photo still makes us smile and is a gratitude reminder everytime we look at it. You can learn more about gratitude reminders in our post here and about Finding Joy in our post here.

    Each week we invite readers to participate in a solution-focused challenge. We encourage you to ask your clients this week what they have been doing in their life to find opportunities to laugh! Discuss with them that finding humor in the everyday world is healthy for them both physically and mentally.  If you are doing telehealth meetings and you see something that makes a person unique in their home, maybe you can ask them to tell you about its significance, maybe there is a light hearted story to tell. 

    Try out one or more of the strategies we shared today, and reach back to  let us know how you’re doing! We’d love to help you de-stress and focus on a positive mindset.

    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

    SOCIAL WELLNESS : Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

    With the United States slowly reopening, many are longing to physically be in the presence of family and friends, and are fatigued with virtual “gatherings” (ourselves included!). The very thought of even a small physically-distanced in-person gathering brings joy! After all, these summer months typically abound with backyard barbecues, family reunions, and pool parties. 

    Research has shown that these types of interactions are not only fun, but healthy too – helping people stay healthier both mentally and physically. They contribute to what’s known as “social wellness”. Fittingly, July is Social Wellness Month.

    Many people with diabetes, parents and children with diabetes spent last weekend engaged in social wellness by participating in the Virtual Friends for Life conference. Normally in Orlando every July, this meeting is so unique and so important for the many families that attend. At the meeting people wear a green bracelet when they have diabetes and an orange one if they do not. Tami used to serve on the Children with Diabetes board and we’ve both attended the conference several times and guarantee that it is a magical event. Especially when you see young children making “friends for life” with other kids, just like them, sporting their green bracelet, living with diabetes. While a virtual format does not allow for the connections that are made in person, there were many opportunities to have fun, dance, learn and “meet up” in the virtual hallway. People were doing their best to stay connected.

    Today’s words are: SOCIAL WELLNESS

    What is “social wellness”? Social wellness refers to building positive, supportive, healthy relationships that can offer support during challenging times. Support comes in many forms. In this blog we share 5 ways to guide your clients to engage in ongoing diabetes support. In case you’re wondering what exactly are hallmarks of  a “healthy” relationship, here are signs to consider:

    • feeling good about yourself around your friend, family member, or partner
    • feeling safe talking about how you feel, 
    • feeling listened to, and valued, and truly experiencing mutual trust

    Social wellness is now receiving greater focus and emphasis from the medical community. It is a critical aspect of overall health. Through research and focus groups that we’ve conducted with people with diabetes, we’ve heard time after time the critical nature of fostering a genuine connection with others with a lived experience. Strong and healthy social connections and networks are associated with the following:

    • blood pressure and heart rate that respond better to stress 
    • a healthier endocrine system  
    • enhanced immune system’s ability to fight off infection 
    • a more positive outlook on life
    • longevity

    In the quest to help people with diabetes be their healthiest self, here are 2 strategies for improving social wellness that you may want to explore with your clients::

    Strategy 1- Make Connections. Come alongside your clients to identify ways to find new social connections, particularly in these socially distanced days. Here’s a few ideas: 

    • Join an online group focused on an interest or hobby, such as painting, great hiking spots, or an online book club. 
    • Expand horizons by taking virtual music lessons, using a cooking app to learn how to make new recipes, or finding a recipe that you can prepare on zoom simultaneously with a friend.
    • Participate in a neighborhood event, such as a driveway happy hour with neighbors sitting in their own driveways, or walk by “concerts” where musically talented neighbors have mini “concerts” in their front yard or on their balcony.

    Strategy 2 – Build Healthy Relationships. Making connections doesn’t mean one has arrived. Relationships require work and nurturing to build strong bonds. Here are a few areas you can explore with your clients: 

    • Share feelings honestly and respectfully
    • Ask for what you need from others
    • Be caring and empathetic
    • Decide what you are and aren’t willing to do
    • When compromise is needed, try to find a compromise that works for all involved

    THIS WEEK’S SOLUTION-FOCUSED CHALLENGE

    Each week we offer a solution-focused challenge that can help evolve care and education in a solution-focused manner. Here’s this week’s challenge: Consider asking some of the following questions the next time you engage with your clients to help identify their existing resources to move towards social wellness.

    1. What do you do for fun?
    2. Who do you enjoy spending time with? What makes that time enjoyable?
    3. How do you show the people in your life that you care for them?
    4. What would the closest person to you say is their favorite thing about you?
    5. What are you most proud of about yourself?

    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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