Pain or passion?l

How do you celebrate pain-free carnival? Carnival is THE time to show everyone who or what your passion is. Whether you dress up as a Formula 1 car, as a dog or as an Egyptian princess, you can have a great time at carnival. If you immerse yourself in that, you will feel less pain.

Pain, and therefore the experience of pain, is made in your brain. If you have pain for a long time (chronic pain), certain parts of your brain (say, the pain areas) become more sensitive. These areas will become active more often, resulting in you feeling pain in your body.

There are also areas in your brain that are active when you have fun, when you feel happy, when you learn something new and when you do something related to your passion. Whatever this passion is (making or listening music, sculpting, dancing, running, doing odd jobs (building), traveling, parachuting, etc.).

Several researchers, including Dr. Ben van Cranenburgh, have shown that these areas in your brain of pleasure and passion cannot be turned on at the same time as the areas of pain. So your brain has to choose. Either you are working on your passion and feel happy or you feel pain.

Carnaval rood

What do you choose? PAIN or PASSION?

The choice seems easy. But in practice it can be quite difficult.

For example, I like to play the flute myself. However, due to the pain I could not stand for long and the position of holding my flute gave me severe cramps in my back and shoulder muscles. The idea alone stopped me from repeating it after trying it once. That one time I didn't even get around to whistling because of the cramps. Yet I know many stories of people who no longer feel pain when they make music. So it may be a matter of persevering.

For me, activities like carnival provide a solution. Many pain patients tend to avoid social activities, especially large ones like carnival. While these types of activities can reduce pain in twofold. Firstly, you have fun (which does not go hand in hand with feeling pain) and secondly, you are distracted by social contacts. Social contacts also reduce the experience of pain.

verkleed groep

Did you always go to carnival before you were in pain? Then definitely celebrate carnival now. If you have never visited a carnival, but have always wanted to experience it, then definitely go. You then do something new (reduces pain), something you enjoy (reduces pain) and something with social contacts (provides distraction that makes you feel less pain). You can show everyone what your passion is.

Some tips for celebrating carnival pain-free:

  • Choose a costume that reduces your pain (if you can sit for a long time, but not stand, then you can act like someone in a wheelchair such as Stephen Hawking or a wheelchair basketball player)
    Wear good, sturdy shoes that support your posture.
  • Bring a fisherman's stool or walking stick with a seat so you can sit anywhere. I always take my inflatable cushion from Verta-Fit with me so that I can sit in any chair.
  • Take a good friend with you who will look after you and guide you so that you can also take (heavy) pain medication if necessary.
  • Do not drink or drink too much alcohol, this does not go together with painkillers. (especially if you quickly suffer from intestinal problems, such as with irritable bowel syndrome).
  • Take public transport or let someone else drive, so that you can leave at any time if it gets too much.
    Book a hotel room in or near the location of the party, so you can easily retreat to recover and you don't have to travel on the day of the party.
  • If you actively focus on the pleasure and the people around you (then you will forget the pain).
  • Bring an instant chemical heating pad. These are small plastic pads with a metal circle in them. When you bend the metal circle, a chemical reaction occurs, causing the pad to emit heat. At the same time, it becomes increasingly stiff until the heat runs out. By boiling the pad for 5 minutes (at home), it becomes liquid again and you can reuse it. This way you have heat to relax your muscles at any time and in any place. There is also a rechargeable, wireless heating pad, but it is a lot larger.
  • Wear a backpack, sports belt or another type of bag that distributes the weight well. Or just take your phone and your debit card with you or put your belongings in a friend's bag so you don't have to carry anything.
  • If you regularly suffer from muscle cramps, take some magnesium oil with you in a perfume diffuser. If you get a cramp, you immediately inject magnesium onto the cramp so that the muscles relax again.
  • Arrange a few extra days off to recover from the party. That's worth it.

How do you celebrate pain-free carnival? Leave your tip below so that others can benefit from it too.


social activities, tips

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