We've all been there. Your heart begins to race, your palms get sweaty, your teeth grind and cringe...
PUBLIC RESTROOMS. [Insert music of doom here]
There's never a perfect time or place that you suddenly have to go poop in public, so here are some tips for making your experience the least awkward, embarrassing, and stressful as possible.
Step 1: Choose Your Bathroom (and Stall!) Wisely
If at all possible, always go for a family restroom or single-stalled bathroom...both of these choices offer lockable doors, spacious rooms that you get all to yourself, and a peace of mind...all included with no extra charge!
Should you face the inevitable multi-stall bathroom, choose your stall wisely:
1. Forgo your immediate first choices for stalls. This is usually the first or biggest stall. Why? These stalls are the most highly used, so you bet your button they will be the first to be checked for feet when others come in to go.
2.Choose the cleanest and most unused stall possible. The second or third stall, or the one right next to the biggest stall, are usually the least used (because people typically skip a few when they realize their preferred stalls are preoccupied), therefore you will get the least attention and they will typically be the cleanest.
Step 2: Flush It First...
(Picture courtesy of the Meme Center)
The number one thing people are most embarrassed by when using a public restroom is...THE STINK. The stink lets everyone else in the bathroom know that you are going poop (not just a long pee) and that it's reeking!
Can't fake it now...so what can you do?
The first step to reducing the odor is FLUSH THE TOILET.
Do this first, right after pooping but right before wiping. Why? This gets rid of the poop before it has time to sit in the water and develop it's "delightful" scent.
Step 3: BYOS
Step two in scent-eliminating is to...BRING YOUR OWN SPRAY.
Not every restroom has an automatic sprayer (it should be mandatory though, don't you think?), so come prepared. Pick up an odor eliminator spray for AIR (not just surfaces) in a To-Go size.
Keep this secret weapon in your purse or pocket for ease of access--maybe front pocket for obvious reasons ;)
If you can't find or afford a To-Go spray (sometimes they cost more then the big kinds!), then buy a big bottle at your local Dollar Store, buy a mini spray bottle, and DIY your own.
I mean, who wouldn't want the bathroom to smell like fruit instead of poop? And no one will be suspicious that you just took a dump because your stall is the only one that smells like goodness...no...they will just be envious because you poop out sunshine and roses. ;)
Step 4: Call It Out, Laugh It Up
Have you ever been in the bathroom, minding your own business, and someone else suddenly rushes in to do the exact same thing? Then there's that awkward silence (and embarrassing shame) as you both listen to the other trying to let their droppings fall into the toilet as quietly as possible. Or better yet, the other person just doesn't care (or is possibly elderly) and they just let 'er rip.
Could this situation get any worse?
Yup...now the two of you are standing at the sink washing your hands at the same time, knowing full well each other's dirty, little secrets.
You now have two options:
1. You can mimic Clint Eastwood in Sudden Impact, "Go ahead, make my day" (NO! Don't do that!), OR...
2. You can simply make a little joke to ease the situation.
Such joke could be, "Man, it must be that time of day." [Insert awkward laughs here.]
It may sound stupid, but both of you are usually going to feel equally embarrassed, so cracking a joke is a way for both of you to release that built up tension and go about your day feeling less stressed. (Or the person could just assume you're a bit crazy and run away.) Either way, you ended the awkwardness ;)
Step 5: Germophobic Endeavors
Lastly, if it's germs that keep you squeamish around the public restroom (maybe the automated sink doesn't have hot water?) then bring your own To-Go hand sanitizer along. Wash your hands and under your nails for the usual 20-30 seconds in the sad excuse for cleaning water, then after drying them, put on some hand sanitizer. This will get all the physical remains (if any) off your hands, as well as keep them 99% germ-free micro-biologically.
NOTE: Don't worry fellow germophobes, EVERYONE becomes germophobic in a public restroom (what's not to love?), so try to avoid making this a reason to tie up your bowels. Don't let the microscopic germs win--there is a better way!
Step 6: My Approach
For me, personally, I just say (much like my tie-dye, 70's T-shirt suggests):
I reasoned with myself a long time ago that I was NEVER going to see those same people from the public restroom again. Even workers at the stores that you frequent will never remember your face (or your pooping) if you do ever run into them again, and they honestly could care less about the fact that you used the restroom that day. These are just irrational fears we come up with in our brains.
In fact, when you hear (or smell) someone else going poop in the bathroom, do you even care? Do you dwell over it day and night? And should you--gasp!--have seen their face, do you reminisce over it longer then a nano-second? Of course not! It's just not a big deal. That's the same way people feel about it if it's you.
1. Give yourself a pep talk (if you must) before entering a public restroom.
2. Take a few deep breaths and find your happy place.
3. Remind yourself of the truth that you will NOT be publicly shamed for using the restroom, and that everyone regardless of gender, race, size, shape, etc will inevitably go to the bathroom (and this includes poop). This is the only time you can really get away with the "but everyone else is doing it" mantra ;)
4. RELAX and indulge yourself in a break! (You'll thank yourself later.)
Step 7: A Few Reasons to Conquer Your Fear of Public Restrooms
1. THERE'S NOT ENOUGH TIME IN A DAY TO GET ALL OF YOUR ERRANDS RAN AND STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING TO RACE HOME AND GO POOP.
This is neither convenient nor practical. Think of all the time you'd waste, and the gas money you'd spend, trying to stop what you're doing to get to your home toilet. It's just not worth it.
2. IT'S PAINFUL--EVEN DEADLY!--TO HOLD IT IN
From Quality Health: "Bodily functions such as passing stool can be embarrassing, especially if they cause a smell. But holding in stool can cause unpleasant and painful side effects, and ultimately lead to constipation, hemorrhoids, anal bleeding from tears in your skin, and a weakened anal sphincter. As food moves through your intestinal tract, liquids are absorbed back into your body through your intestinal wall, and the remaining solids form stool. The longer stool sits in your intestine, the harder and drier it becomes. When stool becomes too hard and dry, elimination is more difficult, and gas builds up. The accumulation of gas can cause pain and bloating. Holding your bowels can also affect bladder function, because the two systems are physically close together. If hard or impacted stool presses against your bladder, it can cause temporary blockage of urine flow. The bottom line: Keep things moving as best as you can!" https://www.qualityhealth.com/digestion-articles/w...
From Food World News: "Experts are warning that in serious events, sustaining a poo in for a prolonged time frame could actually lead to death...Researchers claimed that individuals that constantly delay making a trip to the toilet have a high chance of acquiring muscle dysfunction...Once an immobile bulk of feces accumulates in the rectum this will lead to chronic bowel problem and anyone may experience a disturbed bowel...Experts also emphasize that an impacted bowel could involve surgical operations or maybe even result in death if not given much attention." http://www.foodworldnews.com/articles/56281/201511...
3. IT MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER!
In the book What's Your Poo Telling You?, author Josh Richman calls this sensation "poo-phoria." Dr. Anish Sheth explains that the poo-phoria is, "The distention of the rectum that occurs with the passing of a large mass of stool causes the vagus nerve to fire. The net effect of this is a drop in your heart rate and blood pressure . . . When mild, the lightheadedness can lend a sense of sublime relaxation (the 'high')." Check out more reasons here: http://www.bustle.com/articles/52194-11-reasons-wh...
I hope this has given you some practical ways to handle the act of pooping in a public restroom, and that it's offered you some insight as to how you can obtain peace amidst it all (and maybe conquer your fears for good).