Staying positive as an IBS sufferer is not always easy.
There can be a lot of obstacles, between the delays in diagnosis, the confusion around diet, the pain, the shame, the lack of a cure and the fact that it is an incredibly stressful condition THAT IS MADE WORSE BY STRESS? Yeh, it doesn’t make most of us want to jump for joy.
But unfortunately, since this is a chronic condition, it’s something that those of us affected, do just have to live with, and live with as best as we can. In a cruel twist of fate, IBS symptoms are often exacerbated by stress and so, in many ways, positivity and all subsequent good vibes are a great way of helping alleviate symptoms.
Easier said than done, perhaps. But when dealing with your gut, it is worth remembering how intrinsically linked it is with your head, and when you are talking about a condition that is stressfuland so stigmatised, I’d say there’s definitely a bit of scope for sourcing, and then injecting, a bit of positivity into your IBS addled life.
The happier you are in your head, the happier you can be in your gut.
Which is why I am SO pleased to say that this IBS Awareness Month, (yes, we get a whole month!) I have partnered up with Senocalm to not just raise awareness of a condition that so many of us are affected by and to start a very important conversation, but to highlight the importance of GUTFULNESS.
“Gutfulness? What’s that?”Oh, I’m SO pleased you asked. Gutfulness, my new favourite word, is something that Senocalm are encouraging people to find by trying to achieve mindfulness when it comes, not just to our brains, but to our bodies. #mindbodystomach. They recognise the connection between IBS and stress and know how hard it can be for so many of us to talk about our gut health, which is mad really, when you realise that 2 in 10 people in the UK suffer with IBS at some point in their lives!
I’m SO excited to be working with Senocalm this month, not just because I bang on about IBS all the time anyway, in the hope that by removing some stigma from the conversation, we will remove stress and therefore alleviate some symptoms, but because I love the Senocalm product.
Although I avoid gluten and dairy anyway, I still react quite badly to unexpected foods and my biggest symptom, beyond the extraordinary bloat, is really bad gas. Mmm. Gas. Not only do I need to fart, SO badly, but often it really really hurts!! I recognise that sugar makes these symptoms worse for me, but I’m sorry, a world without muffins, albeit gluten and dairy free muffins, is not a world that I want to live in. So. I’ve struck a balance and enjoy in moderation. Sometimes, after a meal, I can also take Senocalm capsules to help ease any discomfort due to excess gas.
Notably, I don’t need to go and stand outside by myself for a bit, or find a bathroom cubicle big enough that I can do a few deep squats to try and remove some of the pressure that trapped gas can cause!
I’ll leave the product information down below, so you know what’s in them, should you also be diagnosed with IBS and want to give them a go. These will probably be useful too for any potential thieves out there because if anyone were to steal my handbag, they’d mostly just find a packet of this in there….
Senocalm capsules are used to help relieve gas-related symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) including bloating feeling.
- Contains simethicone
- Helps relieve bloating and discomfort
- Helps relieve painful spasms and cramps
- Gentle on the body
- Senocalm is a medical device. Always read the instructions
ANYWAY. I digress. Back to positivity!
Here are my top tips for remaining positive when you have IBS…
- Get outside
God it’s annoying, I know, literally the last thing you feel like doing when you’re having a flare up is get up and get out, I legitimately just want to curl up into a ball on the sofa, but honestly, the movement and the fresh air can really help symptoms. Even if you’re only out there for a minute or two, the difference it can make to your head is massive.
- Create dedicated IBS outfits
It is SO hard to feel comfortable when you are literally bursting out of your clothes. Trust me, I get that. I realised a while back that if I was going to have to go about my everyday life, pretending to be a regular human, even in the midst of a flare-up, I was going to need some pretty special clothes.
I have two IBS outfits: an all in one stretchy leopard print pyjama set for my lying on the sofa feeling sorry for myself moments, and an enormous bright pink jumper with some very loose-fitting jeans for when I have to go outside. I promise. They help.
- Talk about it
Nothing good ever comes from suffering in silence, EVER. Whilst it won’t necessarily make your symptoms any better, it will help to eradicate some of the stigma and shame so many of us feel about something so out of our control.
Unless you’ve got some really poor form friends, most people will not only be sympathetic to the pain that you are in, but will go out of their way to make you feel better and cheer you up. Problems shared are problems halved, remember!
- Listen to your body
Okay so your tummy can’t always be trusted, but that doesn’t mean that you should disregard what the rest of your body is saying! Hungry? EAT. Thirsty? DRINK. (doubly important if you’ve had an upset tummy!). Tired? SLEEP. Trust yourself!
- Use it as an excuse to get creative in the kitchen
Before I got diagnosed with IBS, I was a terrible chef. In fact, I’m not even sure that only being able to make cheesy pasta constitutes being a “chef” anyway… I was rubbish. Since then, I have become so much more creative with my cooking, I try new recipes, food and restaurants all of the time. In so many ways I’ve become so much healthier thanks to this as well. A very big positive to have come from something pretty negative.
- Pamper yourself like crazy
Put some makeup on, book a spray tan, get your eyebrows threaded or your hair blown out. I often find it really hard to look beyond my bloating, even though no one really notices it, in my head it is so unattractive and I think I look disgusting (not true, but that’s the way it works!) – taking a bit of extra time on other areas of my appearance really helps to remind me that it’s not all about the bloat, and I am more than just my IBS.
- Banish guilt
God it’s SO easy to feel guilty when you have IBS; when you go to friend’s houses and can’t eat what they’re cooking, when you don’t feel well enough to go out to social events, when you were meant to be spending time with your partner but you’re stuck on the sofa feeling swollen and awful, but this only makes it worse and you absolutely shouldn’t be feeling guilty for an illness that you can’t do anything about! If you were on crutches you wouldn’t feel guilty asking someone to hold the door for you, what’s different about this??
- Remember, it’s quite normal
As many as 1 in 5 people in the UK suffer with IBS at some point in their lives and whilst I know, since you are a lovely person, you wouldn’t wish these symptoms on anyone else, to know that you’re not alone in your pain can be quite reassuring. Other people have to squat down on pavements to try and alleviate the pain of trapped wind. Other people’s handbags are filled with products that say “gas” on the packet. Other people have to run to public bathrooms and miss out on chocolate brownies and hot curries. It’s horrid, but you’re not alone.
Even if it is the last thing on earth you want to do, stretching and finding a bit of zen is SO helpful. Think about it, your tummy is in cramp! What would you do if you had that pain anywhere else in your body? That’s right, you’d stretch it and massage it! Deep breathing and gentle stretching can be amazingly helpful.
For me, relaxing baths fix most things to be honest. Apart from broken phones.
Okay so I might not be popular for this one and I’m not saying you have to do it by any means, but sometimes it can be SO helpful. Not just as a way of dealing with the mental exhaustion and stress of it all but to get your body moving and jiggling a bit. Added bonus, exercising outside and on your own is a great opportunity for farting… which I’m pretty sure makes you faster anyway…
- Be prepared
It absolutely helps to be prepared, for any eventuality. I find it really hard to enjoy events when I’m constantly worrying about what I will eat and where the loos are and what I will do if I have a flare-up. It’s a faff but filling my bag with a jumper that can hide the bloating should it arise and a packet of plain oatcakes I can tuck into if the food isn’t good for me and a little google search to check out where the bathrooms are and a secret stash of Senocalm doesn’t go amiss and helps me to relax and, in turn, be a bit more positive about all of it.
- Create a routine that excites you
Eating on the go doesn’t work for me. Nor does exercising after food, or going out before my morning poo. There are some things that must be respected and the routine of an IBS sufferer is one of them. After years of trial and error I have established a morning routine that works for me and I love it, honestly and truthfully it has me looking forward to getting out of bed in the morning.
- Remember that as annoying as it is, you’ve got to try your best to be happy
A very annoying thing for me to say, I know, but it’s true. IBS is frustrating as hell and it can feel so unfair and so annoying that of all the people in the world, it’s you that was struck down. I’m SORRY. But after five years of living with the condition, I have learned that there is no point at all in feeling angry, bitter and emotional about it. It is what it is, and we have to try our best to be positive about it. Find the stuff that works and cling onto it. Respect our bodies. Partake in self care. Prioritise our own needs and do what we can, whenever we can, to be as happy as is possible.
So there you have it! My top tips for staying positive when you’re suffering with IBS!
If you have any of your own, please do add them down below so as to help other sufferers!!
My partnership with Senocalm will be going on throughout the month of April and we have some really fun stuff lined up so if you’re not already following me on Insta, go get it and let’s banish the stigma, raise awareness and do what we can to achieve Gutfulness this IBS Awareness Month!