May your 2024 be GREEN!

 ‘Wishing you a GREEN and STRESSFREE 2024’

When I say GREEN, I’m not talking about the climate or political parties. I think that other people can do that much better.

My GREEN is about ENERGY MANAGEMENT: physical energy, emotional energy, mental energy… to name a few … and they are all interlinked…

What if we compared our body to a BATTERY.

During the day, while we work, live and play, the energy level of our battery goes down. And there is nothing wrong with that. As long as … we can recharge afterwards.

This recharging happens, amongst others, while we relax and sleep.

Usually everything works well. But sometimes, our lives are too stressful (too red), and our nights are not good (=not GREEN enough) and if this goes on for too long… we stay in red, even while we rest and sleep. The ‘charging mechanism’ breaks down… and the battery doesn’t recharge, even when we think it does. (Don’t worry… it can be fixed again, more about this in 2024).

My first wish to you: not too much red and enough GREEN so you can keep on recharging that battery!

Let’s now move from that battery to a barometer

And imagine that when the arrow points to GREEN, you are calm and zen and when it is in the red zone, you are triggered and stressed… And moving from one side to the other can go very quickly, or … you can get stuck in red (or orange) for longer periods of time or … with certain people ;-D.

Let’s look at an ‘acute’ example:

You are having a conversation, and everything seems to be ‘love, peace and harmony’ and … suddenly the person says or does something that triggers you… It is possible that you will go abruptly from green to red  and … that the tone (and the outcome!) of the discussion changes completely…
Has this ever happened to you?

And how about this ‘chronic’ example:

Suppose you don’t like Peter very much. Maybe he does things differently than you would. Maybe you’ve asked him to do something and he didn’t… Maybe he triggered you in the past (= the ‘acute’ example…).

If you don’t ‘explore’ this and work on it, you will probably be ‘red’ whenever you interact with him, you even might turn ‘red’… just thinking about him…

My second wish to you: realise when you are in red and be able to turn back to GREEN.

The quick ones might already have noticed the connection between the battery and the barometer… If my battery is low, I am more likely to be or move to red.

If my battery is full, I am more likely to be in GREEN (or be able to move back to it).

And… if the arrow on the barometer is too often on red, this will have an impact on my battery…

Is my ‘wishing you a GREEN and stressfree 2024’ making more sense now?

My goal for 2024?

  • Make sure I have a functioning, recharging battery.
  • Notice when I go to red, and do my utmost best to go back to GREEN.

I will be managing my energy!

I will keep on learning about it, experimenting with it, sharing about it and teaching it.

If this is something you also want to get better at, make sure you are signed up for my tips and tricks.

My very best wishes,



5 reasons why knitting a sweater can boost your resilience

Recently I finished knitting my first sweater.

It all started 2 years ago (those of you who have been here for a while, might remember…)
It started with crocheting 150 little red hearts for Christmas.
My second project was a scarf .
My third one was a bag for my mother and then it was time for more ‘serious stuff’…
From crocheting to knitting and … why not go for a sweater?

Luckily, I have ‘PAND ZESTIEN’ right around the corner.
It’s a place where Veerle sells beautiful yarn, and … where she passes on her passion for knitting (and being creative in general?).

When you buy the yarn, you can get started yourself or … you can pay something extra and have personalized help to bring your project to a good end: it means you can stop by as often as you want/need to, with any question you might have…
I went for the ‘something extra’ ;-D

Let’s go back to the combination ‘knitting a sweater’ and ‘boosting your resilience’. What are some of the factors I believe really contribute to boosting your resilience?

You create something beautiful from scratch.
The day after I finished it, I took my sweater out on a walk.
I couldn’t believe how warm and soft it was!
I am really proud of it. Already while I was knitting it, I enjoyed feeling the fabric in my hands.
When people are feeling stressed, they often start to think a bit negatively, sometimes even about themselves.
Creating something beautiful and feeling proud of yourself can help breaking that cycle and … boost your resilience.

Of course, this can also be applied to other things. Cooking a delicious dish, working with wood, finishing a DIY-project… All of these can have the same effect.

I had to deal with my perfectionism.
In a previous article I already talked about our ‘drivers’ (link article). And while ‘be perfect’ is not my strongest driver, I do admit that not having all the same stitches (as opposed to a store-bought sweater) did bother me a bit at the beginning.
But… there are several reasons for the ‘unevenness’: the specific characteristics of the yarn, the fact that I was using 3 strands at the time, … next to my…  lack of experience…
So I quite quickly decided that I would only start over when there was an actual mistake and not for every imperfect stitch… (and trust me, there were some mistakes…)
I even started to call my project ‘rustic’.
At first it was a little bit apologetically, but then it became more lovingly.
I admit that the ‘informal’ model of the current sweater might have made it a bit easier to accept the ‘flaws’. Let’s see if I can keep the same approach when I make something more ‘formal’…

Working on your drivers is key for boosting your resilience. Because they are often the reason why you overdo it…
More resources can be found in this article.

Knitting = repetitive movement
Many of us use repetitive, rhythmic movement like pacing, rocking, tapping… to calm our minds/ourselves when being stressed.
Knitting can have the same function.
More serotonin is released, and it can even reduce the blood levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Less stress = more resilience.

Learning something new
I had learned how to knit in primary school, I don’t remember if we still continued a bit in secondary school but… that was that. Also, now it was a different technique (=different needles).
But with the help of Veerle, I did it.
And sometimes I was knitting at home, something went wrong and … I tried and I tried until I found the solution. And when I did, there was this sense of accomplishment.

Studies show that learning something new helps us develop feelings of competence and self-efficacy. It also helps us to connect to an underlying purpose of growth and development. These psychological resources enable us to build resilience in the face of stressors.

During opening hours, you can go and sit at PAND ZESTIEN to work on your project.
You can even have a lovely coffee or tea, accompanied by a pastry.
There is some nice music in the background, you don’t have to talk if you don’t want to, if you have a question you can ask, … precious me-time!
Once a week, however, there is the ‘Knitting cafe’: from 7 to 10 pm, (mostly) women join to knit together. For a small contribution, a drink is included.
At this moment, Veerle is not the ‘teacher’, everybody helps each other. There are very experienced people who knit/crochet a lot. They sometimes have several projects going on at the same time.
And there is this nice feeling of companionship. Again, no talking is needed, a lot is taking place. There is a lot of laughing but there is also room for serious conversations. People admire each other’s progress, they encourage each other. All of this to the sound of clicking needles.
Sometimes there are 4 of us, other times more than 20. But each time I leave with a smile on my face (and… I made progress on my project).

Having a social network reduces stress and increases resilience…


These are the 5 reasons why I believe knitting a sweater can boost your resilience.
And while I’m convinced it’s just 1 of the tools in the toolbox (also in my own), I’m currently having a lot of fun with it!

Have I inspired you?

If you liked the above, you can sign up for more Tips & Tricks by signing-up here.
Looking forward to hearing from you!


Why do I always need to make the effort and the other one can keep on behaving badly?

I’m the eldest of 4 and I have 3 younger brothers. When I was a kid, I sometimes got frustrated with the behaviour of (one or more of) them and then my mother said: you are the eldest, you need to be the smartest… I always thought it was so unfair! (And fairness is a very important value to me). 

However, I now find myself saying ‘similar’ things to the participants of my courses…

Let’s look at the working environment (it can also apply to your family, of course ;-D)
We all have a colleague we find a bit ‘challenging’… and often, when that is the case, communication is not optimal.
Have you noticed that whatever they say triggers you? (Possibly also the other way around…)
And sometimes they don’t even have to open their mouth… Just seeing them creates a reaction in your body… ‘Oh no, what is he doing now? OMG, it’s always the same thing with her! How is this possible?’

Sounds familiar? It can be a peer, a boss, a team member… And if you don’t work in a company but you are self-employed, it can be a client, a colleague, a service provider, …
Just take a pick!

Newsflash: if you focus long enough on bad behaviour, it will just get worse.
Your mind will only notice the bad behaviour (because the mind likes to be right and therefore looks for ‘proof’) and after a while it’s not about the behaviour anymore but… the ‘badness’ will expand to ‘the whole person’ …
HE is impossible…
And every time you see him, and you get triggered, YOU get all the stress hormones rushing through your body… Not him…
So where is the damage taking place? Indeed… in YOUR body!

Furthermore, have you noticed that when you communicate with him in that ‘state’, you often don’t achieve what you want, he reacts quite defensively and … you both end up feeling upset? Again… does this sound familiar?

Would you agree that NOT having the stress reaction in your body, having a better relationship and (possibly) getting what you want, beats what I just described above?

This is why I recommend that you make the effort … 
You can only control your own behaviour… not the other person’s. 
And you changing yours might lead to him changing his…

Now how do we go about? This is where assertiveness and stress management come in and… they are very complimentary.

This is a possible strategy:

  1. I remind myself of the theory of ‘my business, your business, God’s business’…
  2. I try to focus on the ‘OK-ness’ of the person (coming up with some ‘fish’ might help here…
  3. I check what I can do about my own situation (apart from my relationship with the person concerned): how come I’m so easily triggered? Am I tired? Is there too much on my plate? Can I take some of my stressors off my plate? Can I look at certain things differently? Usually, by doing some stress management for myself, I become a bit more ‘zen’ and I can better deal with things.
  4. I carefully think about what message I would like to pass. I make sure it’s as factual as possible. I keep a ‘win-win’ situation in mind: me ‘winning’ and him ‘loosing’ is not going to be helpful in the long run.
  5. I look for a moment that suits the both of us. I make sure I am in the right frame of mind for the conversation: calm, ok-ok, win-win…
  6. During the conversation I try and remain calm. (In order to do this, I might need techniques I need to practice beforehand ;-D)
  7. While I come prepared, I also remain flexible. It’s important to truly listen to the other one and by doing so, it’s possible that I might change my mind and/or strategy. So it’s important to keep on open mind.
  8. I ensure that we both are clear on what has been decided.
  9. I follow-up: if things do not go as we planned, we need another conversation. However, I make sure not to have the exact same conversation as the first one (although I can refer to it, of course). But I focus on what happened between then and now.

This is, more or less, what I do.

Does it always turn out, perfectly? No…

Do I then start again? If the relationship is ‘important’ enough to me, yes.

What do I mean by that? The person is important to me or …. the fact of having a good (working) relationship is important to me. Maybe somebody is not my favourite person but … we need to work together a lot so … it’s in my own interest that these interactions are as stress-free and efficient as possible…

If you think this could be helpful, feel free to use my ‘strategy’ or tweak it!

If you want more information: a lot can be found in the articles and videos I created in the past. Check out the website and YouTube.

If you prefer to do it in a more structured way: I have 2 online courses: ‘Boost your resilience’ and ‘Say the right thing, at the right time, in the right way’. They are self-study (but should you want to, you can book an extra coaching session).

I’m curious… which step will help you make progress?