Living with chronic illness means some days I struggle just to get out of bed, brush my teeth and put on clean pj's. Some days' are just hard. Fortunately through life style and diet changes and some prescription medications I am able to better manage my illness now than I was the first few years.
I have found that there is a list of things that I need to do every day that helps me to feel better not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. I feel better about myself, when I take care of myself. I have learned that there are somethings I must do daily that are not optional if I want to feel good.
1. Fueling my body with healthy, nutritious foods and health supplements.
This is KING for having a healthier life style for anyone, but especially if you are sick. I start my day off with a hot cup of or two of herbal detox tea or coffee. Next, I make myself a delicious protein shake. This really helps keep me fueled all morning. To that I will had some extra supplements like a small serving of a healthy fat like ground flax seed, fiber, fruit, digestive enzymes with pre-biotics and pro-biotics. These two things alone (fiber and digestive enzymes) have helped me SOOO MUCH with my digestive part of my chronic illness. One serving of the fiber provides 12 grams of soluble vegan fiber, almost half of the daily recommended requirements.
And the digestive enzymes.....I could go on and on about the benefits of this. This has helped me so much it is one product I keep in my house in multiple quanities, because I never want to run out. There is no other product on the market like this one, believe me when I tell you I have tried them ALL. With 11, YES ELEVEN, digestive enzymes I am digesting my food better than ever while combating gas, bloating and other issues I used to have after eating. This product also contains top of the line, triple acting pre-biotics AND pro-biotics for targeted gut health and is the only one out there that actually survives digestive juices so it can to it's job. This is SOOO IMPORTANT if you have gut or digestive issues. Most of our immune system starts in our gut.
I also try to eat a well-balanced diet for meals and snacks. I do no eat fried, greasy, fatty foods, period. Part of my illness involves fat digestion issues so I steer clear of those. I do aim for smaller servings of healthy fats throughout the day, rather than large portions with meals. I have several go-staples that I keep on hand for quick meals, but I also follow a four or five week rotating menu that I will change up as we tire of the current menu plans.
Italian Herb and Garlic Roasted Vegetables
2. Drink LOTS of water and healthy fluids.
I know, I know, we hear this ALL THE TIME. "You need to drink more water." "Drink at least half your body weight in fluids.", etc., etc,. For a LONG time after I got sick I really struggled with drinking enough water or any fluid for that matter. With my digestive issues raging for several years, most days drinking the "proper" amounts just wasn't going to happen.
Fortunately, I have worked my way up to being able drink more water during the day. My morning teas, energy drink and protein shake all count towards my daily water in take needs. I also bought a couple of large tumblers with a lid and built in straw that I refill during the day with fresh water as needed. I had to learn to be mindful with my fluid in take and really make it a point o drink more.
3. Get 30 minutes of exercise in at least three days a weeks
Again, this is something that I have and am still working up to. Chronic pain or illness of any kind can really put a damper on how you feel and sometimes just the thought of moving is painful. But, exercise really does help. It improves blood flow and circulation to every part of the body, it increases energy and helps improve sleep. It also aids in digestion, weight loss and so much more. The benefits of exercising really out weight the cons of not doing it.
You don't have to run a marathon every day in order to get good exercise. I just put on a pair of walking shoes and use in home videos like walking, light strength training, and yoga. I aim for 30 minutes 5 days a week. Sometimes I only feel like doing two or three days a week. Sometimes I only feel like doing ten minutes. The key is to stay as consistent as possible and try to get some sort of physical activity in everyday.
4. Take care of me with personal self-care
This is one of those personal matters. Like I said earlier, some days I am doing good if I can get out of bed, brush my teeth and put on clean pj's. But, I have found that a lot days if I will just take the time to do just a little bit more I will feel better. Taking a hot shower every day used to be something I would skip because, I just didn't have it in me to make myself do it. But, I have started making this a priority in my life. Why? Because hot, steamy water is like chicken soup for your body when you are sick. No matter how bad I feel, there is something about a hot shower, some smelly-good soaps, shampoos and bath oils to lift my spirits and make me feel better. After all cleanliness IS next to Godliness. Can I get an AMEN?
My next personal care step is not wearing my grungy shorts and t-shirt all day and actually putting on "real clothes", even if it is just what I call "classy pajamas" and a comfy sports bra. You know, those super comfortable clothing items that you have that aren't really for going out of the house, but you wouldn't be embarrassed if someone rang the door bell. Brushing my teeth, using mouth wash and combing my hair are next on the list.
Today's "classy pajamas's"....black leggings and a bright, colorful, fun print shirt
Last, but not least is make-up. Now, I don't do this everyday. As a matter of fact, the day I took pictures for this post, it just wasn't a make-up day. Some days, I will do full make-up (I only wear foundation, blush, eye shadow, eyeliner and sometimes lip gloss). Some days, it is just a bit of foundation, blush and lip gloss.
I know, I know some of you are thinking, "Denise, this are things that you should be doing anyway, right?" YES! You are absolutely right, but here is the thing with chronic illness, some days you feel great. Some days you feel okay. And some days you just don't have it in you to do just the little things. Chronic illness can rob you of your ability to do the things you used to do, the things that made you feel human everyday. I have found that for my well-being emotionally, physically it is so important to keep striving everyday to do those little things. Even if I can only do one little thing, I have accomplished one more thing that puts me a step closer to feeling better.