• Fresh Views

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

    Andrea Bocelli performing Amazing Grace during Music For Hope – Live From Duomo di Milano on YouTube

    Through many dangers, toils and snares We have already come. T’was grace that brought us safe thus far And grace will lead us home – lyrics from “Amazing Grace”

    As April and this most stressful National Stress Awareness Month come to a close, it seems fitting to try to maintain mindfulness of the people, feelings and things big and small that we are grateful for. 

    Today’s word is GRATITUDE

    In solution-focused practice, emphasis is on the present and the future (rather than dwelling on past problems). We know there is a direct link between thoughts one thinks and the feelings they feel. Several studies suggest that expressing gratitude can decrease stress and anxiety by activating the areas in the brain that release the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine. When practiced over time, healthy and productive thoughts can produce effective long-term benefit. A few months back we published a blog on developing gratitude practices, including keeping a gratitude journal. Read more about it here.

    On April 12, one entry in both of our gratitude journals was renowned Italian singer, Andrea Bocelli’s, live stream solo performance on YouTube of Amazing Grace (pictured above). Another gratitude entry this month is that our article, A Paradigm Shift: Taking a Solution-Focused Approach to Practice  was published in the journal ADCES In Practice! While it’s exciting to be published, we are most thrilled for the opportunity to share with other diabetes care and education specialists how to embrace a solution-focused approach in practice, shifting from focusing on trying to “fix problems”.

    Another thing we are both grateful for are friendships, far and near, and the video conferencing platforms that allow us to gather together on Friday nights for a “virtual happy hour”. We have fun catching up and sharing our weekly challenges and successes. Here we are hanging out last week! 

    Tami & Mike, Deb & Mark, Joan & David and Terry & Karen

    Through these “stay at home” orders, even though we live in four different states, we’ve had the epiphany, “Why didn’t we think about doing this before?” We can still connect and spend time with each other! We plan to keep doing this even after we no longer have to social distance. 

    How to get started with gratitude practices?

    In addition to the ideas shared in our previous blog on gratitude, here are 2 more strategies to help develop daily gratitude habits:

    1. Start a gratitude jar. A colleague of Deb’s shared this daily gratitude practice her family (children included) is using. When something is going well and they realize they are happy and excited, they write down what’s happening on a small piece of paper and drop it in a gratitude jar. Then during times when they are not feeling as happy and feel struggles, they go to the gratitude jar and read one of those slips of paper, bringing back those happy feelings. 
    2. Say a kind word. The quickest, simplest and easiest way to demonstrate gratitude is to say thanks to another. Let someone know exactly why you are grateful to have them in your life, sharing specific things they have done or said on your behalf.

    THIS WEEK’S SOLUTION-FOCUSED CHALLENGE

    We often close with inviting readers to participate in a solution-focused challenge. This week we challenge you to incorporate at least one gratitude practice into your conversations with clients. Encourage finding a daily time to practice gratitude and try to be consistent. Maybe it’s when they get up in the morning. Maybe it’s before they go to bed at night. Maybe it’s when they’re exercising. 

    We @AFreshPOVforYou are grateful for pets and the smiles they bring! These last few weeks we’ve been spending so much extra time on screens big and small, that our cats are even joining in!

    Tami’s “grand-kitty” Starry (Who knew she loved Andrea Bocelli and classical music??)

    We are grateful for you all and appreciate the opportunity to share our passion for expanding the use of solution-focused principles into diabetes care and education.  We thank you for reading!

    Deb’s “office cat” Puma watching Hulu!

    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

    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

    THIS WEEK’S SOLUTION-FOCUSED CHALLENGE

    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

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

    Deb’s “office kitty” has a mindset that is always focused on envisioning how to get outside and climb those trees!

    Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

    Given the chaos, worry, hurry, and stress that COVID-19 has rained upon the world, it’s timely that April is national Stress Awareness month. And who could have guessed several months ago when we slotted the word “Mindset”  as the focus for today’s blog that it would in fact be so relevant. We know you’re all busy and have many things on your mind, so we’re hoping this blog can help everyone take a short stress break and identify opportunities to reduce stress today.

    Today’s word is MINDSET: So what exactly is a Solution-Focused Mindset? 

    In a general sense, “mindset” is the way you think about your world, what you focus on, and how you relate to the world day-to-day. Change, like we’re all  experiencing now, means the emergence of new and challenging problems requiring new solutions. 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, you can cultivate a solution-focused mindset. One that envisions success. One which helps manage stress. Focusing on solutions and getting a plan in place helps reduce stress.

    Mindset has a more positive connotation than does stress, and implies that one has some control over the way they interpret and interact with their world during times of increased stress. Today we share with you 7 strategies you can use to help you as you function in your new environment, and also can help you step alongside your clients and support them in embracing a solution-focused mindset and managing stress:

    1. Create a morning mindset routine. We find that starting the day by making a list of each thing you’re looking forward to in that day (or even in the future) creates a feeling of anticipation and excitement that creates momentum for the entire day. Aim for at least 3 things. While you can note them mentally, in your phone’s Notes sections, or in a journal, if you write it them on a post-it note, you can easily post it somewhere that you’ll see it throughout the day (such as on your blood glucose monitoring supplies, on the car dash, on the refrigerator, you get the idea…) By focusing on the positive at the beginning of the day, it’s much easier to be happy, be focused, get work done more quickly. And often,  getting work done seems easier too.
    2. Live your Miracle Day. You may be familiar with the book by Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In his book, Habit 2 is called Begin with the end in mind. In thinking about this process, the solution-focused tool The Miracle Question can be employed to change mindset. It guides in envisioning how life would be different tomorrow if a miracle occurred tonight and your challenges were gone. It helps know what you want.You can read more about it and how to use it here. 
    3. Build on your past success(es). While we  might not have any specific past successes that directly relate to our world today, we can apply successes in similar areas. What has worked well for you in the past when you’ve been under stress? Or maybe you can learn from others and what has worked for them. On social media we saw a post about how people are outside taking walks more often while staying and working at home. In one neighborhood someone started writing messages in chalk to give people passing by some hope and strength. We thought this was a great idea and so started doing this too. We now have neighbors writing back to us!
    4. 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 this time of crisis, many physical activity outlets are offering free online opportunities for those staying at home.
    5. Use positive affirmations. We wrote about using positive affirmations in a blog last December on Healthy Coping here. When life is feeling especially challenging, we’ve found that practicing “daily affirmations” greatly helps us. An affirmation is a short, positive statement that you say to yourself to build yourself up: I can do this. I am strong. Each moment brings choice. I will not hold onto bitterness.I can live an overflowing life. 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.
    6. Surround yourself with positive mindset people. 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. A positive social circle can act as an echo chamber for positive ideas, focusing on a great future and supporting your dreams. Maybe it’s taking a walk outside with a friend (practicing social distancing, of course) or chatting via Google Hangout or Facetime. Whenever the two of us are together we have lots of fun and laughter. That is one way we cope with stress. Find your tribe.
    7. Close out the day with a “wins”checklist. These may be linked to some of the things you were looking forward to, or different things. They don’t have to be monumental. The point is to keep your focus on your day’s best experiences and recognizing how you were able to leverage strengths and doing more of what’s worked well in the past. Finding ways to practice gratitude may be helpful.  You can read more on gratitude here.

    Each week we’ve been inviting readers to participate in a solution-focused challenge. Given all of the real world challenges we are all facing…..we didn’t think you needed another this week! So, we encourage you to try out one or more of the strategies we shared today, and please reach out and 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

    Making a list (and checking it twice): A way to calm and conquer

    With the holidays in full swing at the time of this post, and carols in the air, the lyrics to a popular holiday song about “making a list and checking it twice” struck a chord with us. Not only does making a list and checking it twice help jolly Old Saint Nicholas keep up with who is “naughty or nice”, evidence shows that making lists lends a number of benefits.

    While we @AFreshPOVforYou are personally super fans of lists (especially “to do” lists!), many clients have shared the value they personally find in making lists as well. One client took two days off work to make lists, organize her home, and run errands, noting that it helped her feel calmer. She’s noticed she’s physically and mentally healthier when doing this.

    There are many kinds of lists. And whether they’re compiled on a post it note, piece of paper, in an app, in the Notes on your phone, in an electronic document, on a whiteboard, by asking Alexa or Google, or whatever method works for you…the goal is to get information and clutter out of your head and placed somewhere else to refer back to.  Making lists can help bring a fresh perspective and point of view on life situations, including life with diabetes.

    Here are 7 other benefits of making lists:

    1. Reduces mental clutter. If a thought is written down or documented where you can easily refer back to it, then you no longer have to waste mental energy and capacity thinking about it. And that directly leads to benefit #2.
    2. Reduces stress.  With lists you can see what needs to happen without having to try to remember or fear you will forget.
    3. Allows you to prioritize and allocate time most efficiently. You can separate minutia from what matters.
    4. Helps maintain focus to get things done and combat avoidance, which is particularly helpful when feeling overloaded.
    5. Serves as a valuable communication tool. Whether lists of questions for your health care team at the next visit. Lists of carbohydrate content of favorite holiday foods. Lists of home repair tasks you need a family member to help with. You get the idea.
    6. Brings a sense of purpose and accomplishment when marking things off the list.
    7. Promotes inner calm (not only during the holidays, but beyond).  And undoubtedly that can translate into positive health impacts on blood pressure and  blood glucose.

    List making does offer an opportunity for creativity as well. While some prefer a plain “get it done” checklist, others may prefer a splash of creativity making lists “pretty” via formatting, spacing, color, and font choice. That can enhance calming for some.

    While there are many types of lists, here are 10 types of lists that we’ve found valuable in our clients’ every day lives, and in our personal lives, to help calm and conquer (in no particular order):

    1. To do or task lists. A simple running list of things to accomplish. Seeing allows planning and executing them better.
    2. Accomplishments. Include even the little things – they add to feeling accomplished.
    3. Worries. Putting thoughts and feelings into words by writing them down has a calming effect on the brain.
    4. Gratitude lists. It’s easy to fixate on the things not going well. Rather by turning focus to the good things going on in life, one may become more optimistic and less anxious. When it comes to managing diabetes, for those that may use continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) for instance – rather than focusing on blood glucose out of range, noting gratitude for time in range. What was going on at that time? How can you do that more often?
    5. Hopes/Life lists/Bucket lists. These are things that you’d like to do, see, or experience. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day routine and forget about the bigger picture.
    6. Questions for your health care team. Going to a visit with a list of questions in hand can help insure you get the information you need.
    7. Shopping lists. One client made an electronic list of all the groceries he bought routinely and arranged it in the order he’d find the items at the store. He’d leave room for additions. Each week, he’d print it off, cross off anything not needed, and add anything not on the list, then go shopping. He found the shopping list template stress-reducing by not having to “re-create” a shopping list each week. And heading into the store armed with an organized shopping list helped him get in and out of the store faster.
    8. Self-care lists. These are things you can do just for you. So whenever you have even just a few minutes, you have inspiration and ideas at hand. The goal is to help remind you to make the time for self-care. And, you can’t look after anyone else without looking after yourself first.
    9. Menu lists. A list of tried and true dinner meals that work for you saves so much brain power! No wondering what the carb count is or what to buy at the store. You have ideas in front of you. You may decide to add breakfast, lunch and snacks to the list too.
    10. Health logs. Considering that a log is basically a list of events tied to specific dates and times, keeping a list of exercise achievements, blood glucose readings, food consumption, or medication doses for instance, can help measure  progress and identify opportunities for change.

    Keep lists handy and refer to them often. Which lists could help you calm, conquer, and realize a fresh perspective on life?

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