in Stress



It hits you when you least expect it.

A severe headache made his head explode. Boom! It hit him hard that Friday afternoon. Out of the blue, he thought it came. A daily dose of painkillers did not significantly impact the following days and weeks. The pain tortured him day and night, depriving him of sleep and bringing him to his knees by sheer exhaustion.

His GP excluded a neurological disorder and diagnosed a severe tension-type headache, finding its cause in the neck and shoulder area. She also spoke of an 'acute physical burnout'.

Painkillers, insomnia medication and a regular walk in the fresh air were supposed to bring relief.

Finally, after more than a month of suffering, the capable hands and mind of a therapist found the sore spots and brought almost total pain relief.

What hit him so hard? Was it only a physical condition? Was he out of the woods now? Not at all. Regaining his energy and vitality cost him several more months.

I am talking about my former neighbour and good friend William. A self-employed tree specialist. He runs a successful consultancy operation for everything that has to do with trees. As a descendant of an arboriculturist, he breathes trees. Grown-up with the essential work of tree cultivation, trained as a certified tree worker, he widened his horizon and studied landscape architecture.

When he was 50, he left the family business and started his own firm to give room to his professional ideas and dreams.

He is a doer, no conference tiger, loving to be outside and compassionately mobilising all his knowledge, experiences and insights for the benefit of his clients. They grant him work easily because of his professionalism,  commitment, reliablility and friendly and charming way of working and communicating.

His initial decision to run a small operation with no staff (and no bank credit), which concept he still embraces, seems to be working against him weirdly. His clients are delighted with the results of his work and come back with other projects and recommend him to others. Due to that, orders are piling up.

He finds it hard to say NO. He is losing sleep over too much work, a luxury problem that keeps him awake, the price of success.

He finds ways to handle these types of situations, but step by step, he is getting more stress than he likes. Add a busy family and social life, and a recipe for trouble emerges.

Back to his present situation. His recovery goes slow but well. He is wise enough to take it easy. Fortunately, he is now financially independent, allowing himself to be off the grid for some time. The downside is that he has to disappoint a few clients now and probably some more in the future. But he has used his downtime to reflect on his life as it is developing. He is convinced that he has to let go of his current lifestyle which, by the way, is not necessarily wrong, quite the contrary. He finds it time to enter a new life.

I believe that the problems William is suffering from are only physical at first sight. However, increasing pressure and its impact on his state of mind should be seen too as an underlying cause of his physical problems.

What does William’s situation teach us?

  • The bogeyman with the hammer has demonstrated that he uses a different timetable than us, earthlings. He has patience, and one doesn’t see him coming.
  • Altogether William has taken several months off. He finds this time very valuable and purging. It made his standstill force him to contemplate, and put things in perspective. He realises now that there is more than work, business, and responsibilities, all focused on the happiness and benefit of others. He had forgotten about himself.
  • William discovered that many people were very concerned about his absence and his health. They feared the worst. He received get-well cards and messages even from people who seemed to know him and he hardly knew.
  • He also got to know what I would call the Great Nothingness, having a clear and quiet mind, being able to cloow (creatively staring out of the window) and taking life easy.

Is William all right? I’m sure after a while, he will. He has progressed on the way up rather quickly. He skipped pain medication quite some time ago, and he is gradually reducing his insomnia medication. He succeeds in sleeping better. He walks his dog and is outside more frequently, day by day.

In William’s situation, things came together. Fortunately, he could permit himself to be on sick leave for so long. Above all, he is a strong person who proved to be able to bear the brutal pain for weeks and adapt to inevitable circumstances.

If the bogeyman visits you, what would you do? Do you think you are strong enough to overcome him? And the force of the blow? I think you are.

If you feel or are convinced not, drop me an email (

To see if I can change your mind and support you in enhancing your vitality.

Undoubtedly you are stronger than you realise!

Warm greetings,


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