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Cleaning and IBS

I have been having a really bad month with my stomach. All of my various stomach issues seem to be ganging up on me and have really sucked the life out of me. To say that I’m a bit depressed, frustrated and overwhelmed is an understatement. When we feel this sick, we have a tendency to neglect the very basic responsibilities of our existence. We believe that we just don’t feel well enough to do anything. The dishes get left in the sink, we may resort to ‘convenience food’ because we don’t feel like cooking, no laundry, no shower. When you look at this list of bare necessities, you can see how all of the things, left unattended, will make your IBS, your mood and self-esteem much worse than simply taking care of it. Let me say something about my experience over the last two weeks.

Neglecting daily chores because of IBS

My flare-ups have been awful and have been alternating between violent diarrhea and constipation. My stomach feels literally like a rotten apple is sitting in the middle of it (from gastritis) and I am struggling with extreme fatigue from everything, including my ulcers. Fun…fun…fun. So, I have been on the couch…a lot. I have been existing on cans of very salty soup and bread. I have not done my laundry in almost three weeks and am not showering daily. I know there are those of you that cannot relate to this sort of hopelessness, but I’m sure there are many who can. My little apartment does not smell good, I have no clean clothes to wear and I simply feel dirty. Why? Because I feel beaten. I don’t know when the IBS episode will end, I don’t know if when it does end if I will feel better emotionally and I’m not sure I can catch up with all that I have missed while I’ve been indisposed. These are all valid thoughts, but I think the term here is catastrophizing. I am expecting the worse, because I feel the worst.

How to cope

I believe very strongly in the coping tool of mindfulness. One moment at a time, right? I take it very literally when I am this overwhelmed, in an effort to get myself back on track. The other measure I have undertaken is to complete just one thing per day until I can handle two, then three, then as many as I like. If the laundry gets done on Monday, I feel fresher and better about myself. Dishes/kitchen on Tuesday and my apartment smells better and I feel more likely to cook the healthy food I need to recover. You see, the things we avoid don’t take very long to accomplish. We may be in pain or very uncomfortable while we deal with these tasks but they are not difficult to complete. The benefits of having completed them far outweigh the negative effect of NOT doing them have on our illness and our mental health. Just some food for thought.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • JanetLH
    7 months ago

    I have migraines, IBS, and asthma. For myself, if I can triage tasks, that helps. So maybe today all I do is take a shower and get the laundry dealt with, but I’m still eating a can of soup for supper because I can’t handle the thought of shopping. If you can afford it, sign up for a shopping service such as Shipt. The annual fee gets really worth it when you are sick for several weeks running as I was this spring and on weekends wasn’t up to running to the store. If you can afford it, hire cleaning help. Even if it’s once/month, or less, you might find that helps your mood a lot to know that someone else is dealing with the cleaning. Delegate things as much as you can. And people are right: ask for help. Be like my mother who sort of keeps a mental list of who she has recently asked a favor of, so she doesn’t burn anyone out, and if you can, also offer your helper(s) some cash or a meal out if you’re up to it, or something else to show your appreciation.

  • tmholland moderator author
    7 months ago


    Thank you so much for your comments and support. It is always nice to know that you are not the only one struggling with some of the things that IBS brings. I hope you are well today. -Todd, Team

  • PhyllisHie
    7 months ago

    I am 74 years old and at this time in my life with a lot of health issues being IBS-D, divertiulitis, osteoarthritis, etc. If I can’t take care of myself then its time for me to bow out as I never want to be in a Nursing Home, etc. I have lost all my brothers and sister and of course mother and father. I’ve learned to live with pain and instead of feeling sorry for myself, I get up and do the things I need to do knowing that one day I might not be able to. Swimming helps me a lot or exercycle for 30 minutes a day actually gives me energy to do more. Give yourself a hug and know you can heal yourself through loving your body and know that you are important.

  • Kelly Dabel, RD moderator
    7 months ago

    Thanks so much for sharing PhyllisHie. So glad that you are able to stay active by swimming and cycling on the exercycle. Many here find that physical activity helps promote energy and mobility. We appreciate you sharing your experience. Wishing you relief ahead. Best, Kelly, Team Member

  • tmholland moderator author
    7 months ago


    What wonderful supportive statements and sentiments. This made me feel good. I also very much enjoyed the Steinbeck quote :-). No need to worry though, when I write I am usually trying to be as honest as I can in a particular moment with the hopes that someone can relate and not feel so alone. I bounce back rather quickly. I am a social worker by trade and preach ‘reaching out’ constantly, but sometimes it is hard to follow your own advice. Again, your thoughts are much appreciated and I hope things are at least tolerable in your part of the world ;-). -Todd, Team

  • ExplodingGuts
    7 months ago

    Tim, if you lived closer I’d just come over and put the laundry in, do some dishes and make you some vegetable soup with roasted mild squash and fresh herbs and some home made bread. Women friends would most likely be pleased to assist – maybe guys, too. Reach out. The greatest gift you can ever give a pal is a request for help or advice. — John Steinbeck, The Pastures of Heaven. It’s the ultimate compliment.

    I’m so sorry such a good guy is feeling so bad. I will now include you in my Catholic Novena tho I am a badly lapsed Catholic so manage expectations accordingly. I find saying the prayer daily relaxes and grounds me and reminds me of how small my own cares are in the Great Fabric.

    One mindfulness suggestion: Always envision yourself healed – not in the process of healing but completely healed. Visualization experts tell me this is key.

    If you work from home, you might consider the Water Cure. I found that a gallon of water before 8 p.m. each day was excessive but I’m aiming now at a half gallon. The idea is to flush out the irritants. Guarded optimism for my part. You might find the result quite dramatic.

    Trying work up some mojo to find a new GP who might be willing to do a bit of research and find some drugs I might try. So far, Immodium every three or four days, sigh.

    Poor, poor us. Held hostage by some infection no one seems to care enough to research properly.

    Hang in there, buddy. Things will improve.

  • cfamilyfix
    7 months ago

    I usually force myself to attempt to accomplish things because it takes my mind off of feeling so crappy. Nothing makes me feel worse that laying around consumed by how I’m feeling but that’s how it is sometimes. It feels like such a waste of time to be this sick because of a simple thing like eating a meal. Sometimes I’m able to do it and sometimes not.

  • tmholland moderator author
    7 months ago


    Sometimes the only thing that helps me feel better is working. Laying down with all the time in the world to think about feeling like crap is not good for anyone. Unfortunately, sometimes, that’s all we can do. Thank you for your comments and I hope you are well today. -Todd, Team

  • ExplodingGuts
    7 months ago

    It’s good for the soul to lie about occasionally just feeling like hell. This is why God gives us Radio Classics and audiobooks and indeed each other.

    May we all reclaim control of our guts. Amen.

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