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A tired but relieved-looking woman lies on her side in bed while texting on her phone. Two different speech bubbles coming out of the phone both contain heart emojis.

5 Comforting Phrases I Want to Hear When I’m Mid-IBS Flare

If you don’t have IBS it can be tricky to know how to help your friend or family member when they’re frustrated, mid-flare, running between the bathroom and their bed. As the person experiencing it, it can be tough to explain the help you need, as you often want to be left well alone, at least that’s my experience.

I’ve noted down some phrases that are like music to my ears to get you started. I’d recommend sharing this crib sheet of super helpful phrases with your parents, partner, family, and friends as needed.

Five ways to support someone going through an IBS flare

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

It sounds obvious, but these eight words can mean a lot. There might not be anything you can do but knowing you care enough to ask is everything. That being said, there could be a long list, like picking the kids up, sorting the washing, re-arranging plans, running a bath, chores that you could help take off the person sufferings hands.

“Don’t worry, let’s re-arrange when you’re feeling better.”

The holy grail of friendships is when someone understands that the last thing you might feel like doing is pulling on your glad rags and pretending to be the life of the party when in reality you’ll be lucky to pull yourself up off the bathroom floor.

“Want me to put the kettle on? Hot water bottle or peppermint tea first?”

I’m lucky, my husband knows that my go-to’s during a flare are hot water or peppermint tea so, while I’m locked in the toilet, without saying anything, he’ll fill the kettle and deliver both. Don’t underestimate how important those seemingly small gestures can be.

“I’ve left you some dinner in the fridge for when you can manage it.”

While my gut is in the process of emptying itself, the last thing on my mind is food. But in my case, I know that I need to eat three meals plus snacks, a day to keep my system happy. So, when someone thinks ahead and saves me something to eat when I’m feeling up to it, man, that means a lot. Post-flare fatigue is real, and I often don’t have the energy to pull together something nutritious.

“There’s no pressure to go out but you might feel better with some fresh air and a walk.”

Now, this one will be different for everyone, especially as you may not feel able to leave the house. However, I find it helpful to be reminded that a bit of fresh air and a walk in a green space do wonders for my health. Both physical and mental. A gentle walk help stretches out my stomach cramps and takes my mind off the proverbial shitstorm. Just make sure, when delivering this phrase, you don’t make it too pushy or too patronizing. It should be encouraging and supportive and done very gently.

Got any phrases you want to add? Drop them below.

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.


  • Lucy33
    6 months ago

    Reading some of your articles has made me grateful that compared to many, the IBS symptoms I suffer are relatively mild. IBS has made me late. It means I cannot eat certain things or sometimes, anything, and causes embarrassment when I have to make extra trips to the restroom. It has never kept me in bed, however.
    I don’t know what I would like anyone to say to me during a flare but there is one thing I don’t want to hear. I compete in Obedience trials with my dog and we are often in the first class of the morning…8:00 AM. I am careful…no food, no coffee (I even take Pepto Bismol the night before and in the morning)…and I get going extra early so I have time to hit the restroom. Inevitably, I will have to run back once or twice and I will ask my husband to hold my dog. Last time he was busy chatting, looked at me with an annoyed expression and said, “Didn’t you just go?” Seriously? In front of people? I truly wanted to kill him but that might have upset my dog…

  • tmholland moderator
    6 months ago


    You certainly wouldn’t want to upset the dog lol :-). I think, “Didn’t you just go?”, is probably up there with the thing folks with IBS MOST don’t want to hear. It sounds like you have a good routine and I’m glad the illness doesn’t take an extreme toll on you. It seems to be a spectrum thing. Thank you for sharing and I hope you are well today. -Todd, Team

  • GailR
    6 months ago

    Actually, I have a question. Just recently noticed the Gastroenterologist diagnosed me with General Anxiety Disorder BECAUSE I have IBS, and because people with IBS tend to HAVE GAD. WTF? Since when did he become a psychiatrist? Though I understand that stress can aggravate my IBS, I don’t think everyone has GAD because they have IBS. What’s your take on that? BTW, no other doctor has EVER mentioned that I have that condition except for the Gastroenterologist. I understand he is basing this on what is mentioned on WebMD, and other medical sites. So I guess this is all in our heads? Right?

  • tmholland moderator
    6 months ago


    Thank you for your comments and your question. The only person who should be diagnosing GAD or any other mental illness is a psychiatrist or similarly licensed mental health professional. I had GAD and Bi-Polar disorder long before I was diagnosed with IBS. All people with GAD don’t have IBS and all people with IBS don’t have GAD. I can say that with some certainty. I am not a psychiatrist, but work in the mental health field and have a lot of personal experience. If you are concerned about it, see a therapist or psychiatrist and speak with them about it if you haven’t already. GAD is also a spectrum disorder, which means the symptoms can be rather mild, or life altering. I wish you good luck and please continue to share. Hope you are well today. -Todd, Team

  • Dana I.
    6 months ago

    I felt this article in my gut! “Pulling on your glad rags and pretending to be the life of the party,” is how I feel at least half the time – thanks IBS.

    That being said, another phrase I appreciate is a good, “Want to stay home and watch a movie?” Yes, yes, and yes.

  • tmholland moderator
    6 months ago


    So glad the article resonated with you. It did with me as well. I also really liked the ‘I felt this article in my gut!’, comment :-). Hope you are well today and thank you again. -Todd, Team

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