Nobody said that living with chronic constipation was going to be easy, but it is manageable. Take a look at these suggestions and start feeling better.

Regular exercise may help to normalize bowel activity by increasing muscle activity in your intestines. So why not turn exercise into a social event? Exercise can also reduce stress and help you sleep better, thereby improving your quality of life.

You can join an exercise class with some friends, or try to make new friends at your local gym. There are countless options when it comes to exercise activities, and they don’t have to be high intensity. Bring your gym buddy to a yoga, swimming, dance, or cycling class at your gym, or join a local sports league. Hiking is another great way to get exercise, enjoy nature, and also spend time with friends.

If you’re low on time, consider creating a walking club at work. Gather a group of co-workers to go on a 20-minute walk during your lunch break. If you and your co-workers sit at desks all day, it’s likely that all of you will benefit from the extra physical activity.

It may be difficult to stick to a high-fiber diet when you’re surrounded by all of the pizza, fried foods, and snacks often served at social events. To help avoid some of the temptation, bring your own high-fiber snacks, like nuts and fresh fruit, to parties. If you’re attending a barbeque, for example, bring some fresh veggies to throw on the grill along with a package of whole wheat buns. Most people won’t care that you’re eating wheat bread instead of white bread, so you can stay on track with your high-fiber diet without ruining your plans.

Water is essential for a having a healthy bowel movement. And if you’re taking a fiber supplement, it’s even more important to be drinking enough water so it doesn’t make your constipation worse. If you haven’t done so already, invest in a large water bottle that is easy to take with you. Consider buying one in a bright color or that attaches to your purse or gym bag so it’s hard to forget it when you’re running out the door.

Social gatherings can be stressful for you when you have constipation. And stress can actually make your constipation symptoms worse.

To reduce your stress, you can try various approaches — from meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises to counseling, massage, and self-hypnosis. Many apps are available on your phone to guide you in your journey to achieve relaxation and stress reduction. Use these techniques before you go out so you can truly enjoy being in the moment with friends.

Most chronic constipation sufferers will hide their problems and withdraw from their friends out of sheer embarrassment. This is no way to live. If you can, tell a few close friends and family members about your symptoms. It may be difficult for them to understand at first that your symptoms can’t just be fixed with some prune juice, but eventually they will learn to empathize with your situation. Let’s face it — we all experience bathroom problems at some point in our lives.

Your friends know that your constipation problems aren’t a reflection of you as a person. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people so you won’t feel the need to skip out on social events due to your condition. If you’re finding it too difficult to tell your friends and family about your constipation problems, the internet can help. Look into joining a CIC support group online.

Constantly changing your lifestyle habits can have a huge impact on your body’s ability to have a regular bowel movement. Eating meals sporadically, traveling often, and not getting enough sleep can alter the natural rhythm of your body. Establishing a good routine can make a big difference when it comes to scheduling social events into your busy day. You may find that your life is much less stressful when you create healthy habits and that you’re better able to plan for social activities.

Here are some tips for establishing a routine:

  • Eat your meals around the same time every day.
  • Schedule uninterrupted time each day to use the
    bathroom, preferably right after breakfast each morning. And don’t ever ignore
    the urge to have a bowel movement.
  • Go to sleep at the same time every night, and
    wake up at the same time each day. Aim for at least eight hours of sleep each
  • Drink a glass of water right after you wake up.

While the pain and frustration associated with chronic constipation can really put a damper on your day, there are actions you can take to still enjoy social events and keep your mind off your symptoms at least for a little while. Exercising with friends, sticking to a daily routine, and planning your high-fiber meals, along with finding ways to reduce stress, will give you the best chance at a normal social life. Finding a few friends or family members to confide in can also go a long way when it comes to managing your symptoms.