Week 1: Understanding irritable bowel syndrome

Week 4: Healthy thinking, healthy self

Week 5: Balancing activity and reclaiming your life

Week 6: Maintaining your gains and staying well

Assessing the impact of irritable bowel syndrome in your own life

As we mentioned earlier, getting to know your irritable bowel syndrome symptoms is an important part of recovery. This involves building an accurate picture of how you experience irritable bowel syndrome and its impact on your life. A doctor or therapist can only help you so much with this; the rest, you will need to do yourself. Conducting a self-assessment can be helpful here. The daily symptom monitoring record we discussed above can form part of this. Another part should involve thinking about the impact of irritable bowel syndrome on your life. Take some time to write down all the restrictions and difficulties you face as a result of your symptoms. 

This task may sound challenging or unpleasant to you. However, it’s an important form of reflection that can sometimes leave you feeling lighter afterwards. Sometimes, there’s a strange sense of calm that comes with acknowledging your difficulties. You can use the sections above to help you identify some areas of your life that are impacted by irritable bowel syndrome. Also try to identify any other areas that are specific to your circumstances. Then, try to think about the impact of irritable bowel syndrome on your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Below, we offer some prompting questions to get you started.

Thoughts

  • How do you tend to see the world? Would you say you’re mostly optimistic or pessimistic? 
  • Do you worry about your symptoms? What does your mind tell you about them?
  • What comes to mind when you think about the future? 

Feelings

  • How do you feel about your life overall? Are you satisfied?
  • How has your mood been generally? Does it tend to fluctuate a lot?
  • Do you feel tense and anxious or discouraged and depressed? 

Behaviour

  • How has your behaviour changed as a result of your irritable bowel syndrome symptoms? 
  • Are there things you are not doing now that you wish you were doing?
  • If you didn’t have irritable bowel syndrome, how would you live your life differently? 

Life domains

  • Which domains or areas of your life are impacted most by irritable bowel syndrome?
  • How does irritable bowel syndrome impact your functioning in these life domains?
  • What are the short and long term consequences of these effects?