I realized that as we get older, our priorities change. Those of us with chronic illness, autoimmune illness and various disabilities, usually have the same priorities as our peers, but the one thing that will always have to be the biggest priority is: our health.

Stress is one of the worst things for a person with any kind of illness and can make any condition flare up. In the world we live in today, stress is inevitable. However, these life-changing habits that we all know about, yet oftentimes tend not do enough of, can help keep our mind, body and spirit strong. By taking the necessary steps each day to start incorporating these into our daily lives, we can overcome the obstacles we all face with a bit more ease.

Here are some tips that have helped me throughout the years living with my autoimmune illness:

Drink more water.

This is something we all have heard throughout our lives, but it’s one of the hardest yet easiest things to do. Some of us with illnesses may have to take medications that are toxic to the bodies overall system. Water is our only natural defense to flush out toxic medications. If you don’t like plain water use lemon or lime wedges. I like using the Salubre Fruit and Tea Infuser Water Pitcher by REM concepts.

Eat better.

Eat less sugar and fried, packaged or refined foods. Instead, eat more fruits and vegetables. Sugar is known to create and make inflammation worse. If you have food allergies, intolerances or sensitivities, keep up going with your regimen. Slowly, start adding things into your diet again and use a food journal to mark down how you feel with that particular food throughout the day for a few days at a time. Make sure to rotate the problematic foods every few days.

Get more sleep.

Go to bed early and wake up early. This matches our bodies natural circadian rhythm. When you get enough rest, you will feel better overall. It is said our liver cleanses itself from 10pm – 2am while we sleep. The best time frame for optimal sleep is 10pm – 6am or 11pm – 7 am. Always aim for at least 8-9 hours of sleep, depending on your age this may vary. When it comes to drinking water before bed, begin lessening the amount you drink before you fall asleep if possible. That way, you won’t need to keep interrupting your sleep by having to wake up throughout the night to use the bathroom.

Leave negative things and people behind.

Those of us with illnesses already have enough on our plates. This is extra baggage we don’t need. Be around those who love, care and support you no matter what.

Keep up to date with your doctor appointments.

When life gets busy, it’s easy not to miss annual dental checkups or other screenings. Keep a calendar in your phone to remind you, write it down or have someone you trust keep records. I often use my phone calendar or write on post-it and a little notebook that goes inside my purse easily.

Learn to say no more and don’t feel guilty about it.

Priorities change in a big way when you have an illness. If you know it will take you three days to recover after an event, then consider not going or leaving early. We have to pick and choose wisely what we do with our time. That’s not to say you shouldn’t go out and have fun. Just make accommodations to not spread yourself too thin and that you have time for yourself.

Keep up with physical activity of any kind.

Depending on the chronic illness you have, it may be hard to do certain workouts. But you can adapt any workout to suit your needs. If you have done physical or occupational therapy sessions, keep up with the home program. Don’t keep putting it off for the next day. It will help in the long term.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Having a bad day? “This too shall pass.” Stay positive. The sun always shines through the clouds. As Dory says, “Just Keep Swimming.”

Treat yourself.

Have a cup of coffee. A piece of chocolate. A spa day. Buy something for yourself. Go to the movies. Go out with friends and family. These little things can lift your spirits.

Talk a walk in nature.

Feeling sick can often leave you cooped up inside. Fresh air and sun will give you the energy you need to feel better, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. This will help ground you and bring you back to the present moment. If you can’t go outside, bring the outside to you by using essential oils topically or by diffusing them. Open your windows and the blinds or shades to allow for fresh air and light to enter your space. Bring house plants and flowers into your home in different areas.

Pick up a hobby that helps you to de-stress.

It allows you to have “me” time, so you can forget about everything for a while. Knitting, joining a gym class, book club and whatever feeds your soul and gets you excited. One tip is if you are thinking of doing something and you feel energized and happy, it is the route you should take. If you envision yourself tired and anxious, it is not a good choice.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and open up to people who don’t have an illness like yours.

People in our lives who love and care for us are always willing to help, but sometimes they don’t know how because we don’t let them in. Opening up to people can be healing. Awareness and educating others who aren’t in our shoes is key.

Don’t worry and have faith.

This is easier said than done when there are constant doctor’s appointments, tests and medications to take. Worrying is a dead end, though. It doesn’t lead us to anywhere good and can only make us feel worse. Meditate, deep breathing, prayer, watching or reading a funny movie or book can all help.

Talk to others who have your condition or are in similar situations.

This is also healing because you realize you’re not alone. People who have been in your shoes can share tips and have empathy about your situation. You may even make a new friend. Support groups in person or online message boards are great options too.

Enjoy life.

We oftentimes can’t control what happens in our lives, but we can control how we react to life’s events. We can sit back and wallow in self-pity or go out and experience what life has to offer no matter what our circumstance.

Love, Joy, Peace, Happiness, Abundance, and above all else, Good Health to all of you.