1. Tell the Powers That Be
2. Tell a Few Close FriendsSocial support is critical when dealing with chronic illness. Don’t let the nature of IBS symptoms make you feel too embarrassed to talk to your friends about what you are dealing with. The stress of covering up symptoms can serve to worsen your condition. Pick a few of your most trusted friends and educate them about your needs.
3. Talk to a School CounselorMost schools offer free counseling sessions. Make an appointment with your school guidance counselor and initiate a relationship. This will help you to feel as if you have a trusted ally close at hand. The counselor could also help to mediate any difficulties you may encounter with staff members who are not sensitive to your health difficulties.
4. Eat CarefullyAlthough the optimist within me would like to think that school cafeterias have become more health-focused, the realist within me says otherwise. My recollection is that school cafeterias excel in serving fatty, greasy foods — foods which pose the risk of overstimulating the gastrocolic reflex, resulting in painful abdominal cramping. You may consider starting a food diary to learn which foods are harder for your system to handle. In many cases, it may be wiser to prepare and pack your own food.
5. Keep Your Body CalmOffset the stress of school through the use of active relaxation strategies. Many people have found that a regular meditation or yoga practice results in a calmer body. You can also teach yourself the following skills to use throughout your school day:
Simren, M., Abrahamsson, H. & Bjornsson, E. An exaggerated sensory component of the gastrocolonic response in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Gut 2001 48:20-27.