Have you ever noticed that it is when you are in the midst of your next IBS flare-up, that you take the LEAST care of yourself?
Even if there is no miracle fix, BEING PREPARED really is a great way to reduce the anxiety and the pain.
Here’s how to put a plan into place before you hit your next IBS trigger.
Your IBS Flare-up Action Plan
1) Have a list ready
You know that when a flare-up starts, panic and pain quickly take over, and it’s really hard to keep a clear head.
Before your next flare-up, take the time to write down your own list of 4 or 5 points that can help you face it better. Note them on your phone, in a diary, on a post-it, whatever suits you – and keep them handy!
2) Counter anxiety
When the flare-up starts our immediate reaction is WORRY.
Worry that we are going to be in pain, in a difficult situation, not be able to cope.
The more anxious you get, the worse symptoms become. And that downward spiral can set itself off amazingly quickly.
If you can get yourself into the habit of taking a few deep breaths at the very first signs of a flare-up, you may actually AVOID the flare-up – or at very least reduce its intensity.
While this can take time to master, it can be very effective if you keep trying.
3) Keep your IBS flare-up medication with you
This is not the time to wonder if you have the meds that help you handy. Whatever you find helps, start using it straight away. This means having enough, and having it on you at all times.
If you need to use a lot of paper during a flare-up, keep an emergency stock ready and remember to replace it regularly.
A flare-up is definitely not the time to be rushing out to buy some.
5) Only eat if you want to
When your body and brain just want to collapse on the sofa (or on the toilet) it’s really hard to know what your body needs.
If you are NOT hungry, don’t eat force yourself to eat because you think you should. It will actually give your system a rest.
But do have room-temperature water handy, and remember to drink regularly.
Although it’s not supposed to be healthy, I actually found Diet Coke was my best ally during a flare-up!
If you do want food, there is a huge temptation to reach for the biscuits or crisps or anything handy that will stop those awful stomach cramps. However, these could actually prolong your pain, so binging on something else would be a better choice.
Work out a few basic snacks and meals you tolerate reasonably well, and keep them in house.
If you do binge and wish you hadn’t, be nice to yourself. Flare-ups are really hard to deal with, and we do what we can to get through them.
6) Get support in your IBS Flare-up action plan
If you live with someone, or have someone close you can contact by phone, tell them how they can help you BEFORE you have your next flare-up.
As you know, flare-up time is not the best time for communication:)
Don’t leave them guessing, or somehow assume they should know.
Tell them clearly what you need, and show them that you appreciate their help.
7) Get some rest
Not always an easy one, but you will support your body by resting. A flare-up takes a great deal out of the body. If you can rest, you will get past it faster.
Had enough of flare-ups? Did you know you can stop the IBS viscous circle?5