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Achieving more with IBD

Hobbies and social life

Top tips

  • Decide if you actually need to tell your friends about your IBD
  • Sport can increase your energy levels
  • You should be aware of the potential side effects of drugs and alcohol and always read the information leaflet for medications


At any age, the diagnosis of a chronic disease changes the dynamics between us and others.

Friendships may be affected through ill-health but new friendships can also be made.

It can be difficult telling a new friend or even an old one about your IBD. It might be an embarrassing and personal subject that neither of you are entirely comfortable with. It's up to you to decide if you actually need to tell the person - not all your acquaintances need to know. The person should be trustworthy and treat your disclosure in strictest confidence. Think about why the person needs to know. Are they asking lots of questions about your health, weight loss, etc in a supportive way, or in a 'nosey' way? Carefully consider whether your friend is ready to hear about your problems and how much information it is appropriate to tell them.

Being unwell may mean that you become more introverted, possibly not so trusting of others, especially if you have not felt supported through very difficult times. Friends should be empathetic and understanding. Let them know it is important not to exaggerate your condition, or overcompensate by constantly asking how you are feeling if they are doing so. It may also be that, when you feel 'well', you want to take more risks and that you seek the extrovert friends that help you forget you have a chronic disease.

Joining an online forum, for example 'IBD and me', or a national or European association such as EFCCA, can be a great way to make friends and associates with people who would not know each other without IBD, and to discuss matters with someone who understands.

For more information on communication issues in IBD, one can refer to Living with IBD/ Communicating IBD

Finding the energy                                                                                             back to top

Lack of energy is a common problem with IBD. Try and ensure you have a good night's sleep during flares and remissions. Some people benefit from short naps, or 'energy recharges' during the day while others find this interferes with their sleeping patterns at night. Stick to whatever gives you the biggest boost of energy.

Sport can also increase your energy levels, so choosing and participating in an appropriate sport may be beneficial. Start gradually with light exercise like walking.

Yoga and relaxation techniques (deep breathing, meditation) may also increase energy levels. Fresh air and walking are also similarly beneficial.

For more information on this subject click here.

Going out                                                                                                    back to top

You should not be afraid to go out and enjoy yourself. Investigate venues beforehand - call in advance and ask questions, such as the location of toilets. 'Can't wait cards' are useful when going out and RADAR keys enabling use of disabled toilets can also be helpful. In some countries there are interactive phone services to locate the nearest toilet.

Alcohol and recreational drugs                                                                       back to top

Like anyone intending to drink alcohol or take drugs, you should make yourself aware of the potential side effects of drugs and alcohol, and always read the information leaflet for your medications. There is no evidence that recreational drugs worsen IBD, but they should be avoided because of the potential interactions with your medications.



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