Attending a party with an unpredictable digestive system from IBS can be a challenging experience. Just receiving an invitation may be enough to twist your gut into a knot. With a little preparation, it is possible to regain that child-like anticipatory excitement at the idea of going to a party. Here are some ideas for managing your IBS so that you can enjoy a fun night out.
Stay on Schedule
For several days leading up to the big event, it is important to keep your body on as predictable a schedule as you can. Make sure to get plenty of rest and observe a consistent sleep routine. Try to engage in some light exercise. It is also essential that you eat on a regular basis. Aim for small, frequent meals, avoiding known food triggers.
Dealing with party jitters can give you plenty of time to practice your relaxation skills. You should work to actively remain as calm as possible from the moment you first hear about the party, every time you think of the party, before leaving the house, and throughout the duration of the party.
Have an Exit Plan
Attending a party is a little less challenging than eating at a restaurant because you are less committed to staying. Granted, you don’t want to have to leave early, but it is always a good idea to be prepared "just in case". Make sure that whoever is accompanying you to the party is aware of your unique health needs. If you do find that your body is too uncomfortable for you to stay, make a nice quiet exit. You can always contact the party host the next day to thank them for the invite.
Eat and Drink Wisely
Help your system to work smoothly by eating small, easily digestible meals in the day prior to attending the party. It is a common mistake to think that you can keep your system empty by skipping meals. If you have not deprived yourself of food all day, you will be better able to choose foods that are friendlier to your system. Party food, designed to be tempting and pleasing to the palate, is notorious for having a high fat content and therefore potentially irritating to your system. So, bypass anything that is creamy or deep-fried. Alcohol and caffeine are also GI irritants, so pay attention to your beverage choice as well.
Minimize Social Anxiety
Anxiety of any kind has the potential to upset your system due to the close ties between our body’s stress response and our digestive tract. Thus, it would be helpful to actively work to reduce any social anxiety. You can do this by using your relaxation skills and by using calming self-talk to address any unhealthy thoughts you might be having about your own social performance. The art of conversation is not so hard once you realize that most people love to talk about themselves. When chatting with someone new, ask them questions about their life and look for what you might have in common. If a conversation stalls, remember it takes two to tango, and politely move on.
Parties should be grown-up play time. Shift the focus away from your physical concerns and instead pay attention to the pleasure inherent in simply sharing the company of others. With each conversation that you have, your world expands a little beyond your symptoms. Even if your body feels lousy, be glad that you are out in the world living, rather than stuck in isolation next to your own bathroom. If you do need to leave the party early, congratulate yourself on your efforts to manage your IBS and maintain a sense of optimism that the practice you received will make it easier to enjoy the next invitation that comes your way.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.