Diabetes Prevention Coaching in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic
By Dawn Menning, MS, RD, CDE
We all are living through unimaginable changes and challenges in our everyday life. Who would have thought that the entire world would shut down and we would all need to keep isolated from loved ones, friends, and co-workers. With that backdrop, Canary Coaches has continued to support and engage thousands of participants in our CDC fully recognized digital diabetes prevention program called Virtual Lifestyle Management® (VLM).
We have found 3 paradigmatic responses to the times in which we live.
- OVERWHELMED – Being overwhelmed by everything, with the inability to focus or accomplish simple tasks
- DENIAL – Denying that anything is wrong and attempting to keep everything as it was before the pandemic, and
- SUCCESSFUL – Successfully tackling each challenge as it arises
Our participants communicate their approaches to us through our secure messaging platform. They are looking for guidance and support. For those who are overwhelmed we query them to be sure all is well and they are caring for themselves and anyone else they are responsible for. We then listen to their concerns and provide suggestions that might help them manage tasks during this difficult time. For those in denial we need to do no harm since denial may be their individualized most effective coping method. However, we need to work with them to be sure that the denial isn’t putting them at risk for getting COVID-19. For those who are being successful, we provide them with validation of their success and see if they might find comfort in supporting those around them who are struggling to get through the day.
For all of our VLM participants, our goal is to help them feel more confident that they can accomplish what is important to them. Those who are furthest from being successful need to see that even small accomplishments are worth celebrating. For those who have been more successful, we stress the opportunity for real growth that comes from accomplishing goals especially in challenging times. At all times we coach to increase self-efficacy.
You may ask – How is this related to preventing diabetes and the behavior changes of eating better and being more active – the core desired behavior changes of a diabetes prevention program? The link becomes apparent with our underlying approach of building self-efficacy. Before someone can adopt and sustain these and other health promoting behaviors, they need to have the confidence that they can set a goal and accomplish it. This becomes even more powerful and life changing when success comes during times of adversity and stress. It is really gratifying to see this in so many of the participants we coach.