The average American spends 35 hours per week at work! If you have IBS, you're more than likely going to experience a flare-up at least once during that large chunk of time. Being prepared and knowing how to lessen your chances of having to deal with your IBS during work hours can keep you on track! Check out these tips to help you clock in on your job and clock out on your IBS:
Wake up early
Giving yourself time to get ready is key to starting your day off on a good note. If you have IBS, you know that there's no telling when your symptoms will start acting up. Giving yourself ample time in the morning just in case you're experiencing a flare-up will prevent you from being late to work. I recommend giving yourself 2 hours in the morning just in case.
It can be helpful to tell someone about your IBS. You can choose to tell a sympathetic co-worker or your boss. This way, someone knows about your IBS and can provide support at the workplace. Telling your boss is especially important if your IBS is affecting your performance at work. They may be more willing to work with you and find solutions to help lessen the impact your IBS has on your job. Start by explaining that while you don't have full control over your IBS, you are a dedicated employee and will handle the situation the best you can. If worse comes to worse and your employer is not as understanding, you could have your doctor write a note explaining that your struggle with IBS is legitimate. Either way, having this information out there can only help you when your IBS tries to get in the way of doing your job.
Maintain a schedule
Maintaining a routine schedule is important to managing your IBS symptoms. Having a regular sleep schedule and planned meals and breaks can help reduce your trips to the bathroom during inopportune times. Another tip is to schedule meetings and presentations in advance around your regularly timed breaks to avoid experiencing symptoms during the important stuff.
Limit lengthy meetings
Lengthy meetings, travel, and presentations can all be difficult with IBS because of the unpredictability of symptoms. This links back to telling someone about your IBS. Ask if the meetings and presentations you're included in can be limited in length, or ask if there can be breaks built in to those ones that need to be lengthier. If travel is required for work and you know that this is a trigger for you, talk to your supervisor about maybe doing virtual meetings instead of traveling somewhere for the meeting.
Stay organized, prioritize projects, and know your deadlines to ensure you don't get caught off guard or become overwhelmed with a last minute task. This relates back to stress causing a flare-up in symptoms. Staying organized will also help you stay on top of your work making sure that you never get caught in a position where you have too much on your plate.
Have you joined our IBS Support Group yet? Led by Kaitlyn Willwerth MS, RD, use this Q&A group as a forum to learn from experts and support the community.
Kaitlyn Willwerth is a Registered Dietitian at OnPoint Nutrition. Kaitlyn's work focuses on providing individualized health and lifestyle coaching and, most importantly, support. She is a Certified LEAP Therapist and has also completed the Monash University 'Low FODMAP Diet for IBS' online training course for health professionals.