The role of stress
With the book of Frits Winter at hand I learned how to positively influence my pain. I learned to observe myself critically and discovered that stress and negative emotions trigger my pain. That even unconscious stress affects my pain. For example, if I saw something against it, it could already trigger my pain. And, that when I am relaxed and positive, I have much less pain. Maybe you recognize that you have less pain during holidays for example. Little by little the SALAMI technique described by Frits Winter allowed me to expand my activities and I got less pain. I got an electric bike, which became my contact with the outside world. How happy I was to be able to do my own shopping again. And together with my husband I went for some nice bike rides, a bit further and further. I became more and more interested in chronic pain and started to read a lot about it.
I read an article about "elephant paths" and learned to understand how chronic pain occurs. That my nervous system had become totally over-stimulated over the years and therefore gave my brain the wrong pain signals. That the pain signals had become "deeply ingrained elephant paths or sheep paths". Once I was cycling on the seawall near the mudflats and saw a group of sheep that all walked along the same worn path without a hitch. I found that very vivid: a deeply ingrained path! To "repair" my nervous system I had to create "new elephant paths" by gaining positive experiences.
All this appealed to me so much that I started to work:
- Gathering knowledge by reading a lot about chronic pain.
- Practice with the SALAMI technique: alternating activities within your boundaries with resting moments and very slowly increasing the activities.
- I went to Yin Yoga and learned to relax very well, to relieve the pain with my breath and also that I should not see my pain as my enemy.
- And to be kind to myself.
In order not to focus my attention too much on my pain, I picked up my old hobby again: crafts.
I started writing "expressively". (write off all the frustrations of the past few years). A method that has been scientifically proven to relieve your pain. After that I wrote down 3 or more positive things every day. This taught me to focus on the positive in my life.
I accepted that my life would never be like before the pain but got more and more quality of life so I could enjoy it again. And that while before I didn't like life anymore and even often went through that I didn't want to go on like this anymore.
With a lot of trial and error I came step by step further in my life with less pain.