Sticking to a certain routine has helped me immensely to deal with IBS.
There are various types of IBS routines, from sticking to foods that work for you to starting your day the same way every morning. Finding a routine makes your mind and body feel safer because you know exactly what is coming next. It can also be a great relief for IBS-related anxiety.
For me personally, there are a couple of IBS routines that got me through workdays. They helped me keep anxiety at bay and stress much less about getting symptoms.
Getting up earlier and dealing with IBS at home
Getting up earlier than you need might not seem like something you would want to do. However, when dealing with IBS, it can be a true life-saver. It is the one thing that got me through mornings at work.
As I said in my IBS story, I mostly get IBS symptoms in the morning, about an hour or two after waking up. Because of this, I suffered from IBS symptoms at work for the longest time. I could do nothing but stare at my screen in pain, in between what felt like thousands of bathroom breaks. Needless to say, my days during this time were filled with dread and anxiety.
Getting up two or three hours before having to leave was the one thing that helped me avoid IBS attacks at work. By waking up earlier, my IBS symptoms would start earlier as well, since they tend to stick to one or two hours after waking up. I would get ready and then spend time relaxing on the couch, reading or watching YouTube videos. When my IBS flare-up would start, I knew that I had enough time to deal with it. And since I was in the comfort of my own home, I experienced way less anxiety and pain.
Of course, you can’t program your IBS and sometimes this routine won’t work out. On some days, I was late for work because I couldn’t leave the house on time. On really bad days I had to call in sick. But this didn’t happen often, and on most mornings I was able to get to work feeling better and get on with my day without further IBS symptoms.
I stick to this routine every time I have to go somewhere in the morning – whether it’s for travelling or anything else. It makes me feel safer and also a lot more relaxed because I don’t have to rush.
While this particular routine works for my morning IBS, you might have to figure out one that works best for your symptoms. And if you don’t have a specific timing for your symptoms, I still have a bunch of other IBS tips for you!
Listening to the same playlist on your way to work or anywhere else
Listening to the same music every day might seem boring for some. Personally, I like to reduce excitement on anxiety-filled journeys to work, the airport or anywhere really.
Listening to the same calming songs in the same exact order every day gives you a sense of control. And it’s this sense of control that we’re usually lacking when we’re dealing with IBS.
It calms your nerves because you know exactly what’s going to come next. Also, the music shuts out the outside world and gives you space to focus on breathing slowly and telling yourself that everything will turn out just fine. By the way, breathing out for as long as you can is one of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety for me!
Ignoring the world around me and focusing on calming myself really helps me with anxiety. This way, I am able to avoid unnecessary IBS flare-ups caused by too much stress.
Eating the same foods over and over again
When you’re not home, the last thing you want to do is try out new foods. No matter how good they look, you will risk IBS symptoms as a consequence. But especially if you’re eating out every day, sticking to safe foods can be hard.
At my previous workplace, we had a bunch of restaurants in the neighbourhood and my co-workers made it their mission to try them all. I tried to go along with this at first but soon had to give it up.
A trip to a Japanese restaurant (my personal safe place) can turn into a pizza lunch very quickly if said restaurant is closed or your group changes its mind on the way. And even if the type of food you’re eating is usually safe for you, a new place always bears the risk of additional ingredients you don’t know about.
All of this can lead to possible IBS flare-ups. And if you’re anything like me, you’re not willing to take any risk! And don’t forget the anxiety that goes along with risk-taking and affects your digestion as well!
Personally, I had identified 5 places I would go to every day of the week. Two Japanese restaurants, one bagel place that served salads, one Poke place, and one jacket potato place. And yes, I did mostly order the same thing at each of these places every week!
Having five places to choose from made sure that I could always eat something I felt like eating. But you could also go to the same place and switch between different meals every day. Or cook foods at home that you know are safe for you if you’re a better cook than I am!
If you’re worried about what others think of you, or that you’ll end up eating alone all the time: don’t be. My IBS-related eating habits were somewhat of a running joke between my co-workers and me. And my obsession with Japanese food quickly became my signature! Just own it and it will be okay.
And as for eating alone: there is always someone who has no clue what to eat for lunch. This person will be happy to go with you to whatever place you have chosen that day! And even if you’re going alone, suggest to get takeaway and eat together in the office afterwards.
Personally, I love eating alone because it gives me time to relax and recharge a bit. But it is always a choice and never imposed on me!
Stick to a time schedule that helps you deal with IBS
Our body has its habits. Personally, I get hungry at the same time every morning (10 am). I like to have lunch at around 1 pm, and am the most productive between 11 am and 4 pm. After 4 pm, I usually get really tired and like to relax until 6 pm when my creative time starts.
This is not something I decided to do, it’s just the way my body works. In the same way, I get my IBS symptoms in the morning and rarely during other parts of the day.
When you’re dealing with IBS, you are usually looking to regain control over your body. Using your body’s habits is a great way to do so! By getting up, eating and working out at the same time every day, you can give your mind the impression of control, similar to listening to the same playlist.
This, in turn, will calm your IBS-related anxiety and make your body feel better. It also gives you the opportunity to track when your IBS symptoms occur. If they tend to stick to certain times like mine, you can then plan around them.
Sticking to a time schedule can help you regulate your bodily functions. This, in turn, gives you more control over your life, thus keeping anxiety at bay.
Sticking to your routine in new situations
Once you have found an IBS routine that works for you, it is important to stick to it as much as possible. Whether you have meetings or are travelling, doing the same things you usually do can make dealing with IBS so much easier.
I have to say, it isn’t always easy. Especially when travelling, you might need to avoid trying local foods. You do need to plan activities in advance to avoid surprises or schedules that don’t work for you. But when you’re able to enjoy everything instead of being sick at your hotel, it will totally be worth it!
I really hope that this post helped you! I know that it’s never easy to find ways to deal with IBS. If you liked it, please be kind enough to share it with other IBS sufferers. 🙂