Whole Health Blog

Building Hope
Natalie Dowty, PT, MPT, EdD



I’ve been a physical therapist specializing in chronic pain and chronic disease for more than 25 years.   I’ve noticed a pattern among patients who are able to live well with chronic disease:  they find a way to have hope.

When people are suffering from debilitating pain or disease – standing at the far reaches of the capacity of our medical system, hope is a tricky thing.  So let’s be clear, I’m not talking about the “just-pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps-and-smile” kind of hope. I’m referring to a deeper quality, like the beauty of a stone that’s only revealed after time being tossed in the surf.

People with hope trust themselves to figure it out. Trusting that we can figure things out in the face of chronic illness, requires a few important things:

1) understanding what’s happening to us;

2) skills for managing our situation; and

3) an ability to shift our attention away from the stress long enough to allow possibilities to arise.

These three things can be taught and practiced as part of life-long journey of self discovery and mindfulness.

These three things together build more than hope. They build resilience. Resilience is the regenerator of life – our innate healing super power. The chronic disease strategies that work the best encourage us to become more aware of our chronic pain and disease so that we can adapt and respond more effectively.

In this way, hope is not just an empty promise. It gives us actual resources for better living.  It involves work. People with hope are grounded in this self awareness.

If you are are looking for a healthcare partner who understands the power of hope and resilience, please give me a call. 402-212-7444.


8 Simple (and Free) Wellness Strategies that Really Work
Natalie Dowty, PT, MPT, EdD

Feed yourself a humor diet.  Have a joke party.  Get a joke calendar.  Watch a comedy every week.

Balance your energy budget.  Pace yourself, emotionally and physically.  Make lists, organize life activities, focusing on top priorities.  Eliminate nonessential activities that may be  overwhelming.  Break up tasks into smaller units of shorter duration.  i.e., trim one hedge per day, instead of doing all in one day.

Practice gratitude.  Find things that inspire love and gratitude daily.  Keep a gratitude journal.

Have more fun!  Schedule fun into your day/week!  Stay open to playfulness.
Keep a long list of things you like to do.  Refer to it daily.

Inhabit your body.  Move for the joy of moving.  Feel your body.  Be aware of your posture – Let your spine be lifted and supple.  Use your senses. Eat a raisin as slowly as you can.

Breathe!   Let your breath move from your belly.  Let out a relaxing sigh.

Eat Well.  Avoid deprivation strategies. . . ADD fruit, veggies, water. . .
Practice moderation.  Consciously absorb the goodness of food.

Use your imagination.  Stimulate your creative brain (use it or lose it)!  Doodle, write, finger paint, use your non-dominate hand.  Use imagery. . To create a retreat. . . To generate positive  feelings. . . To promote healing and energy.  Practice creative brainstorming and problem-solving.

Make small changes!  Give big encouragement.
Even small efforts can keep us feeling well and happy!

Lights in hands-f2-frame2

Navigating the Holidays with Chronic Pain / Illness
Natalie Dowty, PT, MPT, EdD

The Holidays can move us out of our routines, which can increase stress and symptoms.  It helps to plan ahead to maximize joy and minimize stress. Here are a few tried-and-true suggestions:

Specific Tips…….

Lights.  Outdoor Laser lights (Projections) are inexpensive and so easy to set up and store you will wonder why you ever did anything else.

Tree.  A 4 foot (or smaller) artificial tree can be put away fully decorated by wrapping it in plastic. Once decorated, it works on the floor or on a small table and takes very little effort and less than 15 minutes to set up.

Cards.  E-cards are the way to go. Once you set up an e-mailing list, copy and paste all addresses on the BC line (so they can’t see the other entries), type a holiday greeting, add a photo if you like. Hit send. Your done.  Gradually build your mailing list overtime, if this task is stressful.

Gift wrapping.  Minimize the time and effort of this task with gift bags. Items that won’t fit in gift bags can be wrapped in fabric or a scarf with a ribbon.

Food.  Order in.  Integrate frozen or ready-prepared items into home-made recipes. Make less food – turkey breasts instead of the whole bird.  Do a pot luck.  Bottom line: make sure you have enough energy left over after dinner to enjoy visiting.

In General……..

Simplify.  The goal is to enjoy the company of others and to cultivate a sense of gratitude. Graciously let go of things that do not move you toward this goal.

Pace yourself.  Prioritize. Don’t try to do it all. It’s OK to politely decline an invitation and/or postpone a visit until after the holidays.

Work ahead, a little at a time.  Look at what you can prepare in advance of the holidays. Purchase and freeze food. Prepare laundry and put it aside. Prepare gifts well in advance.

Ask for help.  Be specific and upbeat about your needs. You won’t necessarily get the help you need unless you ask for it. And sharing tasks is an opportunity to enjoy the season together.