Back to work & IBS


Back to work & IBSIt’s hard dealing with work and IBS. But what if the job itself is actually making your IBS symptoms worse? And if it is, what can you do about it?

We do what we think we have to do. But maybe we are doing what seems to work for others, but not truly what works for us. If your work energises you, all is well. However, if what you do drains your energy, this is a warning sign.

If you live in a situation which does not fit you, your body will let you know and attempt to protect you. And you will feel worse, or get new symptoms.

What happened to me

I had had IBS for a number of years when my symptoms became chronic. In my last job, which was a total farce, different parts of my body started bloating. I need to do a job that is concrete, doable and useful. This was so far removed from what I was living at work that my body reacted. I wasn’t listening, so it got worse and worse. So I ended up looking like the Michelin man, with bloated legs, arms neck, even head, giving me migraines. I looked awful and felt awful.

The cause and effect was easy to see, yet I (stupidly) ploughed on in the hope that I would be able to turn the situation around somehow.

What was I thinking? My health was far more important than that job. But I couldn’t see this at the time.

When it came to an end I was frustrated but so relieved. And I decided that no-one was ever going to push me into some impossible job again and say “dance”.

I used the time to learn why I had IBS and how to heal, and in so doing found I could do Reiki energy healing. I trained as a certified NLP coach to be able to help others with recurrent physical symptoms that doctors cannot help. Now THAT is a job that energises me.

It is not at all easy to change things. I ignored my IBS for a very long time. Because I thought I had to live like that. It was what everyone does. But each of us is unique. Some people will be in tune with what they are doing, but many are not. They may not have IBS, but they may be dealing with other less visible symptoms like high blood pressure.

What this means for you:

If you are in a job that does not fit with who you are, or your values, your IBS will probably continue.

If you are working, and interacting daily with people you find difficult, your IBS will probably continue, unless you can learn to react differently to them, or make them understand that this is not how you work.

By making better choices and living your life, you may find that some of your IBS symptoms melt away.

So what can you do about work?

If you learn to take a step back from your current preoccupations you will maybe see ways in which you can make your current job fit you better. Ask yourself this:

What needs to happen for you to feel better? How can you achieve this? You may find that mindful meditating 10 mins a day allows you to get more clarity (with less emotion attached).

If you have a people problem at work, taking a step back will help you see better just what is going on. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Why does that person bug you so much? Why do they do, or say, that presses all your buttons? And why does this make you react. Does your reaction have any link with previous events in your life, or is it about your values and beliefs?
  • Is it just towards you, or do they in fact do this with everyone?
  • Why might they have this attitude or behaviour? What are they afraid of deep down?
  • How can you react in a way that serves you, and them?

Something else to be aware of. Others can react to us in a way that we allow. Maybe it is time to politely but firmly start refusing that behaviour. You can do this by stating simply “I am sorry, I find the way you speak to me disrespectful because….” and see what happens. By making your new boundaries very clear, and speaking your mind, the situation may well evolve in a better direction.

Is it time for a change?

If you can’t find a way round (like in my case), then maybe it is time to consider changing job and doing something that fits you better.

Think about how you could achieve that goal. How could you manage if you make less money, etc? What are the barriers; And the solutions? You may not have all the answers today, but they will come. We tend to concentrate on what we can’t do. Think about what you can do, what you want to do, what energises you, not what you feel you can’t.

You may not find the solutions overnight, but if you consider that there might be a different approach, you are opening doors to new possibilities. And a new future.