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Sleeping bad? Forgetting things? Trouble concentrating? Feeling tired? Shoulder or neck or stomach pain? An unceasing back- or headache? Overeating, -drinking or –smoking? Easily irritated? Lackadaisical? Or just feeling restless lately?

I can go on for a while. All symptoms of an increased stress level. And although stress is experienced differently by everyone and even enhances productivity to a certain extent, too much of it is detrimental for all of us.

As an executive Coach, I see a lot of denial. No, I’m not stressed. Everything is under control. I have always been a bad sleeper. I have been smoking this much for years. Or drinking too much coffee. I am just naturally very impatient.

Well, maybe you have been stressed for years?
So how about Work-Life Balance?

Work-Life Balance? I chose to be successful in business. My work is my life. I love my work (not that I don’t love my family of course). I had to work this hard to get to where I am now. I need some stress to feel good about myself. I love being busy.

There it is. I see executives almost fighting for their stress when I try to address it. What if we take it away? Would you miss the adrenaline rush that comes with the stress? Or are you addicted to the endorphin shot after succeeding difficult challenges? And when does the good stress become bad stress?

An even bigger question is, do you really love being busy? Or do you love people watching you being busy? Be honest, in social media, how often do you see posts or tweets on a Sunday morning saying “preparing meetings for upcoming week”. As if we are proud to say “Look at me, even on a Sunday I am working. I am so busy. I am so successful.”

It would be misleading to say I do none of these. I am as much a workaholic as most of you. But how about that Sunday morning breakfast in bed? How about recharging your batteries?

There’s a lot written about “saying No”, prioritising your To Do’s. But do you really want to say No? Following questions can help you find out the truth about your stress-addiction.

1/ Imagine yourself how your life would look like if we took away the stress right now. Does this thought scare you? Is being that busy allowing you to run away from your reality? What would you need to address when you don’t have the excuse of lack of time anymore?

2/ On the other hand, how is your company culture and peer pressure contributing to you being stressed? Is the fact you are almost unavailable because of having an overloaded schedule equal to being successful and important?

I dare you to answer the questions above. Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts below. Whether you do this in English, French or Dutch, any feedback is appreciated.

Apart from that, I also challenge you to organize a breakfast in bed next Sunday morning, whether you are alone or sharing it. And would love to see you posting or tweeting about it (#catchyourbigfish). Thank you for sharing!

And yes, you can say No (but only if you really want to)

Questions or remarks? Feel free to comment!

About the author

Sofie Varrewaere is the founder of After studying a Master in Psychological and Pedagogical Sciences, she ogled into the magical world of Recruitment, Selection and HR Services. Working for the world leader in HR, she has always been in an advisory role in relation to the larger goals of several multinational organizations. In 2013 she started her own company in International executive Coaching. Doing what she is good at, challenging others as well as herself.