Maintain your social life with Crohn's disease

Practical advice to help you prepare for attending events and being social when you have Crohn's disease.

Living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as Crohn's disease (CD), can cause apprehension about attending events. During a flare, symptoms might cause you to avoid being social. But isolating yourself can negatively impact your mental health.

Attending events, participating in activities and staying connected to others are important to managing your well-being. Here are some ways that can help you maintain a social life and prepare for your next outing.

  • Pack a kit. An extra pair of underwear and pants, baby wipes, toilet tissues, panty liners, and an air freshener free your mind from symptoms and allow you to engage in life. Carry this kit with you or store it in a convenient place such as your car or at work.
  • Locate bathrooms ahead of time. Reduce the stress of finding a bathroom by planning your itinerary and locating the nearest restrooms in shopping areas, restaurants and on public transportation. There are also phone apps you can download that locate public toilets.
  • Prepare for eating out. Review menus in advance to plan what to eat without feeling rushed. Make a note of foods that don't cause side effects so that you're prepared with a list of the best meal options.
  • Enlist the help of individuals you trust. Share your concerns about being social, attending an outing or going to work with a trusted friend or co-worker. Consider helping your confidant learn about CD by offering educational materials that explain the disease. Knowing you can rely on someone who is knowledgeable to help manage a difficult or embarrassing situation can be reassuring.
  • Time your outings or daily routines. Your symptoms may be more likely to occur at certain times of the day or after a meal. Organize your routines to accommodate toileting needs and plan to stay close to a bathroom at those times.
  • Understand your limits. Build flexibility into your plans and only commit to what you're comfortable with. Consider the total time of an event, including travel time, and if necessary, only attend a portion of the time. You can also decide to skip events. Save your time and energy for the people and activities that matter the most.
  • Create a support network. Sharing your daily challenges of living with CD can be difficult or even embarrassing, but doing so can create a reliable support network. Discussing your illness with others at a level you're comfortable with may make life easier when your disease flares. Helping others understand your situation and concerns can prepare them to step in if your symptoms become serious.
  • Meet virtually. There may be times when fatigue or other symptoms make going out too stressful and difficult. Instead of isolating yourself, consider staying connected with family and friends by meeting virtually.
July 01, 2023 See more In-depth