There’s nothing more embarrassing than having a good laugh with colleagues on lunch break, only to laugh so hard that a wee fart escapes your pants leading to an awkward silence. Your co-workers don’t say anything, but the smell is obvious, and you know Sheila from accounting will tell the rest of the office.
Work is stressful enough, and adding on IBS concerns won’t ease your anxieties. When you wake up with stomach pain, you probably won’t be able to take the day off (at least not if it’s a recurring issue), so here are some ways to deal with IBS symptoms when you’re in the office.
Make a schedule
Creating and sticking to a schedule – including work deadlines, when you eat, when you take a break, when you start in the morning – is a good way to manage stress, which is an IBS trigger. Getting into a routine can train your body, particularly your eating times. This can give you some, but not total, control of when IBS symptoms may creep up.
If you know you have to endure a long meeting, plan your day well in advance so you aren’t suffering from both IBS symptoms and your boss’ monotone drone. Be sure to locate the nearest restroom, too!
Avoid trigger foods
This one’s self-explanatory, and you probably already do this, but it’s worth noting nonetheless. Avoid IBS trigger foods like extra paperwork; try to pack your own lunches so you’re in control.
Sometimes you’ll need to go out with the team for a business lunch. If they won’t take no for an answer, plan ahead by checking out the restaurant menu beforehand.
While IBS can be embarrassing, don’t be afraid to own it! It can be advantageous to tell a close co-worker about your condition. This way, they can fill in for you if you can’t attend a meeting or had to head home for the afternoon.
If you’re comfortable being the butt of office jokes, you can always tell everyone and make fun of yourself before anyone gets the chance to. You just have to laugh at yourself sometimes! (Plus, if you don’t feel like talking to a co-worker, just pass gas in their general direction. They’ll get the hint.)
Ask for flexibility
Hopefully you work in a cool office environment that offers some flexibility in your day. It doesn’t hurt to ask anyway.
Speak to management about a schedule that’s best for your IBS needs, which in turn makes you more productive in the office – no boss wants to pay someone to poop all day. Your boss may be willing to allow you to work from home when IBS symptoms are severe, or you can ask to work the late shift since IBS symptoms are more aggressive in the morning.