Surviving the Festive Season – Your Top Tips

Here at Bladder and Bowel Community, we’re already getting into the Christmas spirit. The decorations are up, the Christmas tunes are playing at full blast and the food cupboard has well… already been depleted shall we say!

We know that for those with a bladder and/or bowel condition, the festive season can bring with it feelings of dread and anxiety as our safe routines may need to change or we tend to indulge in foods or drinks that can irritate the bladder or bowel. But, what can we do to help us feel more safe during this time? Who better to ask than our community? And you so graciously obliged – thank you.

Here are your tips on getting through the festive season.


Order in extra supplies/ medication

Make sure that you double check that you have enough continence pads, ostomy or catheter supplies to see you through christmas and New Year. Many home delivery services are asking you to do double orders to make sure that you don’t get caught short. You may find as well that a change in diet can increase how often you need to change your supplies so it’s worth bearing that in mind too. Make sure that you also check that you have enough of your medication to see you past the New Year.

Keep a spare change of clothes and pads/continence wear

If you are planning on visiting relatives then it is a good idea to pack a spare change of clothes and make sure that you have your continence wear/ ostomy/ catheter supplies with you. It can also help to carry a pack of wet wipes and hand sanitizer with you for an easy clean up

Limit your alcohol intake and rich foods

We know that alcohol can cause irritation or inflammation in the bladder or bowel so keep alcoholic drinks to an occasional treat or avoid if you can. Avoid eating certain foods such as spicy food, fried foods, citrus and chocolate, which can increase your chance of a flare.

Keeping a hot water bottle with you can be useful

If your condition causes abdominal, pelvic or back pain then it can be useful to have a hot water bottle with you to help soothe the pain. You can get rechargeable hot water bottles and one’s that wrap around your waist.

Plan, plan and plan some more!

The one tip that nearly all of you mentioned was the importance of planning ahead! If you are going to a restaurant or any other venue over the holiday period then it can help to phone ahead to check that their toilets are open, whether they have any accessible toilet facilities and whether you need to use your radar key. If you have a long journey, to plan where you are stopping in advance and make sure you visit the toilet just before your journey starts. It may also be worth investing in a ‘she-wee’ or portable toilet to keep in the car.

Mental health and the festive season

For some, Christmas may be a time where you feel out of your comfort zone, which can cause extra pressures or anxiety or you may feel unable to leave your home causing isolation and loneliness. It can help to know that you are not alone and that there are people you can talk to during this time

Bladder and Bowel Facebook group We’ve created a safe space where you can talk to others in our closed Facebook group, who are experiencing bladder and/ or bowel issues. With 15K members and growing, there is always someone around who can relate to how you’re feeling.

Mind – is a charity that supports better mental health. Infoline 0300 123 3393

British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP) has a directory of where you can access local counsellors and psychotherapists support for disabled people

You can access your urgent local 24 hour NHS mental health helpline by following the prompts of this online form 

Samaritans – if you’re struggling with feelings of despair or don’t know where to turn, contact the Samaritans 116 123 (24hr helpline) 

IESO – You can now access CBT therapy online via the NHS in order to beat depression or anxiety.

There are some great tips here to help us all enjoy the festive season. For many of us, the weird year that we have had with Covid will see us staying at home more and our celebrations will be smaller.

Whatever you plan on doing this season, we’d like to wish you a happy, safe and well Christmas and New Year.

– Bladder and Bowel Community