6 Tips for Staying Social and Active With IBS

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Chris Illiades, MD on September 4, 2020
  • Group Of Friends Having Dinner Party At Home
    Simple Rules to Live by When You Have IBS
    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a long-term condition. It is not life threatening, but it is hard to live with. The symptoms are unpredictable and difficult to talk about. A flare at the wrong time can be uncomfortable, physically and socially. Still, keeping an active social life is important. The last thing you want to do is isolate yourself from friends and loved ones. Here's how to stay active when you have IBS.
  • woman receiving results from doctor
    1. Don’t live in fear and anxiety.
    It is hard to be active and social if you are anxious. Don’t let fear of IBS overtake you. Learn as much as you can about the condition. Find a doctor you can work with and take an active role in your treatment. Good treatments do exist. IBS affects 1 out of 5 Americans, but most people never seek treatment. Don’t make that mistake. The more you know, the more likely you will be to have an active social life.
  • Group of Women Eating Out
    2. Stay close to friends and loved ones.
    Don’t try to manage it alone. When IBS affects your life, it also affects the life of your friends and family. Don’t push them away. IBS symptoms may be hard to talk about, but they are nothing to be ashamed of. Chances are, your friend has had bouts of diarrhea and constipation or sudden urges to have a bowel movement. Share your feelings. Talk about what you need. Ask for help. You may be surprised at how much friends and loved ones appreciate your letting them in.
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    3. Plan for getting out of the house.
    You can’t be very active or social if you are stuck at home. Plan for social outings. Make yourself an emergency bag to bring along. Include a change of clothes and other hygiene products you might need. Avoid places where bathrooms are hard to find or use. If you travel by plane, try to get an aisle seat. When possible, driving is probably your best bet.
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    4. Plan for holidays.
    Holidays can be stressful for anyone. They can be especially stressful if you have IBS. But, holidays are also a wonderful time to be with loved ones, friends and family. If someone is hosting a holiday party, your best bet is to tell your host what you need: access to a bathroom. Also, don't make the mistake of going off your IBS diet during the holidays. Watch out for fatty foods, large meals, alcohol and caffeine.
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    5. Be prepared emotionally.
    Social gatherings can be stressful when you have IBS. In fact, stress is a big trigger for many people with IBS. It would be a mistake to just avoid the social gatherings. Instead, find ways to deal with the stress. If stress is a big trigger for you, you might want to work with a therapist to learn some cognitive behavioral therapy. Relaxation exercises and meditation are other options. Use these techniques before you go out and use them while you are out if you feel stress building.
  • Woman in Warrior Yoga Pose
    6. Combine social activities with exercise.
    There's some evidence that regular exercise can reduce IBS symptoms. Exercise can certainly reduce stress and help you sleep better. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight. All these are positives for your quality of life with IBS. To get these benefits and stay social, join an exercise class. Yoga and tai chi are also good ways to get some exercise, relieve stress and meet new friends.
6 Tips for Staying Social and Active With IBS

About The Author

  1. Living With IBS. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. http://www.aboutibs.org/living-with-ibs.html
  2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Anxiety and Depression Association of America. http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs
  3. Living With IBS: Relationships. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. http://www.aboutibs.org/relationships-and-ibs.html
  4. Living With IBS: Tips to Make Travelling Easier. http://www.aboutibs.org/travel-and-ibs.html
  5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome and a Healthy Holiday Season. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. http://www.aboutibs.org/ibs-and-holidays.html
  6. Can Exercise Improve Your IBS? Canadian Society of Intestinal Research. http://www.badgut.org/information-centre/health-nutrition/ibs-and-fitness/
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Sep 4
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.