A month of self care


Last Friday it was announced that as from Sunday midnight, Belgium would go into lockdown 2.

I think we can all agree that:

  • The past 7 months have not been easy for many of us (and very hard for some)
  • This lockdown is expected to be ‘harder’ because of the fact that the days are shorter, and the weather might not be so nice
  • Since this has been going on for a while and it’s clear that it’s not going to go away any time soon, people can do with something positive.


Anyway, all weekend I was thinking about how I could help, and I got the idea to do a challenge…

And then… I noticed that Melissa from ‘mellow doodles’ had the same idea and since her graphics are much nicer than mine, I thought: why not ‘use’ hers (while giving her all the credit, of course), and add some extra tips?

She calls it ‘a month of selfcare’ (this is also the official hashtag).

How does it work?

  • She has some tips for every single day of the month.
  • You can join in at any time
  • You can adjust them to suit your personality
  • Aim for 5-20 minutes daily (that is for me the only ‘must’ ;-D)

Goals of the challenge (her words):

  • Support ourselves during a month which may be tough for many of us
  • Do as many as we’re able to do but NOT to feel bad if we don’t do them all. Life happens.
  • Find out what helps us the most so we can use those activities more in the future (I like that!)
  • Share our progress on social media if we know it will help us stay on track! #amonthofselfcare (optional!)


While my definition of self-care is broader (and possibly not as ‘nice’ as hers), I have no problem whatsoever to promote this one. On the contrary. Let’s do this. Because we’re worth it!

I will try and post some tips on a daily basis. Hers + some ‘interpretations’.

Oh, yes, what I really liked about her is that after 2 days she came up with a ‘gentle version’… only 3 alternatives/week. And this makes so much sense… For those who are totally overwhelmed, the ‘original’ one can be too much already. If I think about my own workload and state during the first lockdown, I would definitely have chosen the ‘gentle’ one!

I can’t stress it enough: adapt this to suit your life and personality. Try them all, pick one and do it every day, pick one per week, choose your own, even if it’s not on the list…
Because…  #youalwayshaveachoice #YAHAC

But… DO take 5 to 20 minutes to do something for yourself every day. ‘Because you are worth it’ ;-D


More information:

Mellow doodles websiteInstagramFacebook (for the original version and the amazing visuals/templates)

My English Instagram and Facebook (for my interpretation)

My Dutch Instagram and Facebook (for my interpretation)


By the way… I still think that my contribution can be helpful too:


#takecareofyourself #stayhealthy #staysafe


I need affection


The ‘Boost your resilience’ beta-course is over and I’m happy to say it was a success.

During one of the modules, we discuss that sometimes stress comes from your needs not being met. And then it’s up to you to first find out which need this is and secondly, to come up with several strategies to satisfy that need. And ideally, one of the strategies doesn’t involve anybody else but yourself…

Let me share the (anonymous and generalized) question from one of the participants. Because I’m sure you’ve been there too…

You taught us that we have to find coping strategies for when we can’t have our needs satisfied by the people around us. However, there is one need I have troubles finding a way to satisfy it on my own: attachment / affection. Any tips on that?

In a quick reply I suggested 2 things:

  • I remember somebody in a group from the past who was feeling lonely (living in another country than her own, not knowing a lot of people yet). When doing this exercise, she remembered from her childhood that she got a lot of affection from her pet. She decided to have a pet again and felt much less lonely when she came home to her apartment after work. After a while this also gave her the courage to get out of her comfort zone and to join some groups and find friends there.
    My point being: you sometimes need to think outside of the box. She wanted to get to know people and the pet was a first step towards this.
  • A second ‘piste’: do you have enough affection for yourself and if not, how could you cultivate that?

The person got back to me:
Unfortunately, the need comes from my childhood as my parents were working really hard and the pet is not an option… I have a problem seeing how I could hug and caress myself and feel like I get love from someone else 🙂 but I will continue working on that self-love since I see there is no other way for satisfying that need ourselves

There are a couple of things I want to say here (and again: this is generalized…)

  • This technique is useful when you are experiencing stress NOW for a need that is not met NOW. Do not keep on stressing about things that happened 20 or more years ago… For this I would refer to the article PUNTO!
    It will explain how very often it’s the story about an observation which creates our stress and how it’s important to go back to the observation and leave it there. For instance: when I was a child, my parents didn’t do X (=specific behaviour), PUNTO. (or period, if you prefer…)
  • You might be falling into the trap of only having one ideal strategy in mind. They should have hugged and caressed me to show their affection. No, they might have shown their affection, you just didn’t recognize is as such. They might have worked so hard to give you a better future than they had. This was their way of showing you affection. And maybe this was the only way they knew.
  • Let the affection also come from others. If I said I have a need for affection, but I only want it to come from George Clooney… I might have to wait for a very long time. ;-D You do say you get love from somebody else, be grateful for that.
  • My parents didn’t do X (=show affection) but only Y (=work all the time), whose business is that? Mine, yours, God’s? This is another concept we discuss during the course. It comes from Byron Katie. Somebody else’s behaviour is not under my control. It is what they do/did. And I have to learn not to let this trigger me into a stress reaction.
  • And finally (for now), self-love does not necessarily mean cuddling yourself. It is treating yourself the way you would treat somebody you love. For instance: what’s your internal dialogue towards yourself? Is it encouraging and kind, or … negative? Do you take good care of your own needs or do you tend to be a people pleaser and do you care about other people’s needs first? And so on…

These are just some approaches I would use to explore the problem, manage your stress and boost your resilience.

(Of course, there are many other ways, depending on who you work with…)

Are you inspired by this example and do you also want to ‘Boost your Resilience!’, make sure to put yourself on the waiting list for the next round. This online programme is mainly self-study but with weekly Q&A sessions where we can go deeper into your case.

If you don’t want to wait and you’d prefer a more personalised version, I would recommend the 1-on-1 coaching. I do have some extra openings. If you are interested, you can sign up right here. If you want to have a short discussion with me to see if this would be something for you, reply to this mail.

The beautiful testimonials from the last round AND additional information for the offers mentioned above can be found here.

And remember, #youalwayshaveachoice #YAHAC

How to manage stress coming from people close to you?



This is a question that came from one of the participants from the ‘Boost your resilience!’ course. And I’ve heard it many times before.

Sometimes we think that we are quite good at stress management. It’s the others who need some (our?) help.

As I said before (and I will say it again…): “It’s not what happens to us but how we look at what happens to us, which causes our stress!”
And we all look at things differently.

Just look at the current crisis.

I look at it in a certain way and therefore I react in a certain way.
My partner/brother/colleague looks at it differently and therefore he reacts differently.
But HIS way of reacting, causes ME stress…

Sounds familiar?

What do I need to do? I need to manage MY stress, even when the stress comes from people close to me.
And how do I do this?

By sticking to my ‘stress management formula’:

Stress management = working on my (stressors + buffer + perception)

Working on my buffer:

I ALWAYS need to work on my buffer. When my buffer is weak, stressors have a much bigger impact on me, and my stress reaction is going to be higher. So… the more ‘zen’ I am, the less I will be impacted. In this case: enough sleep and the capability to be able to calm myself down are going to be key.

We all know how people get on our nerves much more easily after a bad night’s sleep…

Also… me trying to reason with somebody when I’m stressed myself or when I’m calm… it is going to have a very different outcome!

Working on my stressors:

My stressor in this case is the stressed person. You might have noticed that stress can be contagious. His stress might ‘infect’ me too.
One strategy could be to avoid this person. No contact, no stress.

Another strategy could be to try and calm down that person. (You could even send them to one of my courses ;-D)
But if the previous strategies don’t work: I’ll have to work on myself… and use all the strategies I have, to stay calm (and I’m back at ‘working on my buffer), despite him being stressed next to me… Because the moment I get stressed as well… I’m no longer my best self and … I’m potentially causing damage in my body.

Working on my perception:

If I see him as my big stressor, chances are that I’m not going to be very happy about that.

I might even start to resent him. And guess what: the more I resent him, the more I will be stressed. Therefore, it will be important to try and understand him, to show empathy, to also see the positive things he does… in order to feel less stress myself… ;-D

That will, of course, be easier when I’m quite calm and I’m back at … ‘working on my buffer’.

Isn’t it amazing how these elements are so linked and how they are all so important in the ‘Stress management formula’?

Good luck! And remember… #youalwayshaveachoice #YAHAC