10 Tips for Working Full-Time with IBS, Part 1
Working full-time with IBS is plain hard. Dealing with arriving at work on time, stress, deadlines, making it through a long day, figuring out bathroom habits, managing lunch, and food, etc., are all some of the things we have to constantly deal with while at work.
I am very blessed to work only from home now and it has changed my life. I highly encourage anyone who is struggling with their job to talk to their boss to see if a work from home option is available. However, I know the option is not plausible for everyone’s job, so I’ve decided to offer some tips to help get you through your day at work.
For many years I worked a full-time job that wasn’t at home. I endured many challenges and yes, I had many moments where I had to embarrassingly excuse myself from mid-conversations to go and use the restroom. I also had many moments where I had to call out early because I was horrifically sick and couldn’t finish the day. I know the struggles of working a 9-5 very well, so I wanted to share some tips I learned on my journey.
Let’s take a look:
Be open about your IBS
Some of you may be opposed to this, but from my experience, I found it the most relieving and productive whenever I was honest about my condition. In my personal experience, I never brought it up when I was being interviewed for a job. But I typically let my supervisor or co-worker know what I was dealing with health-wise within the first month of working.
I have to say, I wish I was more open from the beginning. It wasn’t until years into working that I started to open up about IBS and found that my co-workers and bosses were extremely accommodating. It really took major stress off my shoulders and made working in the office much easier, knowing that I had support.
Always have an emergency kit
In case of an accident occurring at work, always, and I repeat, always have an emergency kit with you. What I mean by an emergency kit, is basically a bag with a change of clothes, wipes, underwear, Poo-Pourri, pads, meds, and anything else you may need in case of an accident.
There is nothing more humiliating than going through an accident at work and not having an emergency kit handy. You then have to disappear and go home to change and clean up, making people wonder even more about what happened.
Eat safe foods for lunch
Making sure you are eating safe foods for the day is essential. You never want to try something new during a work lunch. We all know that is risky and can really end up horribly. So really stick to your safe foods and always have a lunch packed to avoid munching on trigger foods while at work.
In my offices, there always seemed to be some type of food laying around for employees and of course, they were always my trigger foods. So to avoid being tempted, bring your own lunch and always play it safe with food so that symptoms don’t erupt.
Don’t be a hero
Don’t be a hero and try to work overtime and never take your vacation days. Rest is so key for our bodies. IBS is hard and when you don’t take care of yourself and let work and stress take over your life, your symptoms act up.
Take those vacation days
If you have sick days, use them! If you have personal days, paid time off, whatever it may be, take advantage! There will always be a day or days where you are dealing with a horrendous flare and need the rest. Don’t be a hero and drag yourself into work if you have these days available. It’s just never worth it.
Ask to work from home
If the option is available, definitely ask your superior if you can work from home. Working from home has changed my life and has made a huge difference in how I cope with IBS.
I no longer have to wake up extra early to get to work on time in the morning, praying that my bowels will stop acting up so I can get in the car to work. I also found it so hard to make it through the day at work. The fatigue was horrible and sometimes just walking into the office in the morning, I already was drained.
Having the opportunity to stay home has calmed my symptoms, so if the option is there—ask!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my tips for working full-time with IBS. My next 5 tips will be shared! In the meantime, any tips you’d like to add that help you manage full-time work? Share below!
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?