Feel like this today? Before you pack it all in, start doing this, instead.
Looking after yourself when you’re travelling without IBS is one thing. But when you’ve got your oh so lurvely IBS symptoms popping up sporadically in different locations, then you really have to practise self care every day.
Taking the time to really allow yourself some down time helps your body, rather than challenging it too much. especially important on bad days. It will not only make travelling with tummy problems much easier, but will keep you healthy and positive too.
No, self care isn’t that.
I only really became aware of the term ‘Self Care’ in the past two years or so. In fact, it wasn’t until I left the UK that i heard it being used routinely. There’s probably a reason that the UK doesn’t use the term so much, or endorse it everyday. (I’m not going to mention the chronic stress problem in the UK in this post though…I’ll behave. ) Luckily, ‘self care’ is now a subject being covered main stream and all over your social media feeds. And even when I’ve been mentioning my practise of self care to friends over there recently, they don’t think it’s just me being more explicit than usual.
Practising self care is one of THE best and most important ways to manage your IBS, at home or on the road. If you’re not allowing yourself a little TLC every single day, then you risk running yourself into a dark, stressy hole ( even if that hole is filled with coconuts on a a paradise beach.)
Self care is basically taking a bloody break. It’s being ok with your decision to not go for drinks because you feel like you should, but have the worst tummy pain ever. It’s realising, that no matter where you are in the wrold, that ‘Netflix and chills’ with your peppermint tea, is always ok.
I am so grateful to my lovely Korean obsessed friend in Saigon, who introduced the concept of self care to me. In the form of Korean skincare and vegetarian Vietnamese take out.
It’s even more important to practise selfcare when you’re on the road with a problematic tummy. You’re probably trying so hard to feel ok anyway and deal with your IBS symptoms witha smile on your face, that you’re actually being harder on yourself than you should be. That’s why regular self care practice needs to come in somewhere on your journey, if you’re practising small amounts of self love every day, then you have way more chance of staying well, happy and able to explore and experiebce new cultures and countries.
Practise IBS self care on your travels
Don’t ditch your self kindness routine
You will probably have certain actions you perform everyday or things you do when you’re feeling crap with your tummy at your more permenant ‘home’.
Don’t stop that just because you’re not at home.
These are a few things I do routinely, regardless of where I am:
- Meditate for 5-10 minutes on a morning. I do this before opening my laptop, everyday. I use a guided meditiation built in the the fabulous Calm app. As a naturally high energy/anxious person ( I’m working on it, ok!) I put meditation off for so long. Yoga yes, meditation no. It just seemed totally un-doable. It’s psychological, I guess and you may feel the same too. Anyway, after putting it off for years, in the past month I have literally forced myself to do it. Now, one month or so in, it’s becoming something I automatically do, and feel strange if I don’t. It’s part of my self care daily routine, and no matter how much work I have, this is always, more important.
- Yoga. Practising Yoga is my fave thing and keeps me moving forward, now matter what’s happened. In an ideal world I would be a Yoga instructor working on a retreat in Europe for the rest of my life. But I am not, so I just have to make sure I practise most days no matter where I am. If you’re a Yogi, you will know the addictive ‘yogi high’ you have after a session. If you’re not, try it, seriously. When you travel, Yoga becomes more accessible and way less expensive. More often than not, you will find someone in your hostal/hotel/co-working space who teaches it, or has ‘the BEST YOGA TEACHER EVER’. Make friends with them, and you’re sorted. It’s also a natural stress reducer, and the yoga poses help reduce IBS pain and encourage healthy digestion. Good, eh?
- Journal. I have to journal for my sanity. I am a creative. Every day I have about ten thousand new ideas. If kept in, they disrupt my whole day and I can’t focus. Every morning I write it all down, plus 3 things* I am grateful for. *Top tip from a cool guy in Saigon ( that place was life changing on all levels!) Journals are easy to transport, they’re also really great for documenting your IBS triggers and symptoms too.
- Re-enforce positive mantras. Everyday I tell myself ‘I got this’. Even more so on a bad IBS day. When you feel like you really can’t cope, are all alone in a new place and literally just feel like you may as well be at home. Stop, remind yourself how strong you are and that you’re here in this amazing place, living the life YOU wanted and dreamed of. IBS just happens to be with you too. So what, you got this. Tell yourself out loud a few times ‘I GOT THIS’ when you’re feeling crap. I do it every day because you know, IBS is tricky and can get too much. That’s ok too, but reminding yourself that you are more than capable of handling this shiz, will help get you over those really fed up, written off days.
Use the spoon theory (but don’t justify yourself, ever.)
The spoon theory is a life changing theory for me, and hundreds of other IBS suffferers. It is a visualisation tool that allows you to imagine you energy levels as spoons. As an IBS sufferer, only you really know, just how physically and mentally exhausting it really is.
Imagining you have 12 ‘energy spoons’ in a day to use up, will help you explain to friends and family why you just can’t do all those things right now. It also helps you feel better about giving yourself a day off, when you need it.
You might use up just 6 spoons by getting ready for your next bus trip. So you need to plan a nap whilst you travel, so you can successfully get to your next location, feed yourself and not get lost/killed/have a break down somewhere. Get it?
I LOVE this theory and use it all the time, especially on the days I get up at 12pm and literally fall asleep at my laptop again at 3 pm. I have to prioritise work during the week and often beat myself up for not seeing anyone Monday-Friday. Saying no, and focusing on your own health is easier when you visualise it in spoons. You prioritise whats important and use them up carefully, instead.
Switch off the travel and work chat
When you get to a new place, enjoy it. Instead of sitting, planning your next moves just chill out. I am not one of these people, I like to stay put for a few days. But I do have non-IBS friends who are constantly busy, constantly moving, sightseeing and planning excursions. Every time we meet it could be; ‘want to go see this later? Where is the best street food? What should I see here?’ etc etc. It’s tiring for everyone. When you’re trying to stay feeling your best, know that it’s ok to just switch it off for a while. The world aint going anywhere soon. Doing this also helps reduce any social anxiety you may have.
The same applies to work chat. Living in a world of travelling entrepreneurs who are all creative, driven individuals, working on a higher level than you could ever imagine, is inspiring. It also means that sometimes you have t one the one who says, ‘Look guys, no work talk tonight, please!’ This is essential in reducing any stress induced IBS, especially if work is causing you anxiety!
Don’t feel guilty about not doing ‘everything’
I get this. When visiting a cool place, I always want to see the famous sites to feel like I’ve ‘done it’. It’s ok not too though. Usually, when I remind myself of this and follow my own advice, I not only have way more energy for doing stuff I actually want to do ( like going on boats!) But I don’t kill myself walking 10 thousand miles in 100 % humidity every day. As I implement this self care tactic more and more, I realise that the real places worth seeing are never on the grid. This saves you energy, avoids flare-ups and gives you a chance to re-group.
Suffering from IBS, following the fodmap diet or any other gut healing protocol, isn’t ideal when travelling. But you know I am here to make it easier. Even on the worst days with your tummy, you MUST EAT. I talked about this in my last post and suggested what to eat for bad flare ups on the road. How are you meant to have a fab time and experience new places when you have no bloody food in you? It’s the most important rule on my self care list, and it should be yours too.
Take your home comforts with you ( or budget for a few luxuries)
No matter where I go I always have:
- My Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish & Night Cream
- Avene moisturiser & exfoliator
- SP Luxe hair oil
- Dermal face masks
- Peppermint tea and capsules
These items are luxury goods, but I would rather skimp on other things, than go without the main things that make me feel lovely again. I often feel yuk with IBS, so having a warm shower, washing my hair and doing a mini facial whilst drinking my peppermint tea, literally works miracles. I look forward to it every week as part of my self care regime.
The same applies for food and drink. Either take your ultimate safe, comfort food with you and pay extra luggage, or source it out at import shops or your local supermarket. Mine are; jasmine rice, 100 % dark chocolate, walnuts and coconut oil ( you can take a girl out of Asia…)
The world is huge, yes. But that doesn’t mean seeing it faster will make the experience better. If you’re burnt out, regardless of your IBS, then it aint going to be the most fun experience of your life. Stay an extra day or two where you are and just relax and enjoy having a re-set and re-group.
Self care with IBS whilst travelling, is so important for staying healthy, both physically and mentally on the road. No one wants to be that person, booking a flight home at 4am in the morning, in a hotel lobby in Thailand ‘cos they’re f**cked. (And yes that really happened, but that’s another story…)
Now, here’s a FREE Download that will help you develop a self care routine. One that you can take with you, no matter where you are in the world.
Not being kind enough to yourself lately whilst away or wondering how to travel with your IBS? Then sign up to my Facebook Group, like the Low Fodmap Travel Facebook page & head over to the Instagram for on the go support. Don’t forget to sign up to my mailing list for regular fodmap travel updates including; places to eat, tummy safe destinations and ‘no details spared’ insights into life on the road with IBS.
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