Every once in a while, I hear a client story that riles me up so much and reinvigorates my passion for what I do that I can’t help but share it with you.

I recently got an email from one of my clients (let’s call her Erin) with the following story:

“Yesterday, I got called into a meeting with my boss. We went over my current requirements list, and he complimented me for doing a good job despite the too-large workload. Then he told me, ‘Try not to look out the window so much during work hours. Kathryn (the big boss) is really busy right now, and she expects everyone else to be that busy, too. You don’t look as stressed out as she is.'”

I couldn’t stop my emotions from boiling over — I felt so angry and also so sad that this is what our work culture has come to.

Seriously?? You don’t look stressed enough? It’s no wonder burnout and stress-related diseases are rampant in our country!

The saddest part is that Erin’s boss truly thought he was being helpful and offering valuable advice. He didn’t realize that he was perpetuating a hugely unhealthy (and hugely untrue) belief that’s become commonplace in most workplaces: The more stressed you are, the more successful, important, hardworking, and dedicated you must be.

I know I may be in the vast minority here, but I believe the complete opposite is actually true.


Stress has become so normal, so acceptable in our daily lives that most of us don’t think twice about it. Of course we’re stressed out on a daily basis — isn’t everyone?

We’ve written before about how being busy doesn’t make you important, but I think that, as a culture, we’ve now taken this to the next level. Just like in Erin’s story, simply being busy is no longer enough. She was handling a too-large workload (and doing it well, I might add), and yet she still managed a few moments throughout the day to keep herself centered and calm by looking out her office window. But instead of being rewarded for this, she got chastised for not appearing stressed enough!

I don’t know exactly where this antiquated notion came from that being more stressed = being a better, more important, more loyal employee … but I know for a fact that it’s doing far more harm than good.

When we, as a culture, reward stress, we’re promoting so many unhealthy beliefs and behaviors. When people are chronically stressed, they often experience …

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. As much as we’ve come to normalize and even celebrate stress, it’s wrecking our health, our happiness, and our relationships.

What scares me the most is that Erin’s story isn’t an isolated incident — this mentality is rampant in the working world, and many people don’t realize they have a choice about what they want to believe.

Thankfully, Erin is naturally a very self-aware, conscious person, and she immediately saw her boss’ advice for the fear-based B.S. that it is. She actually laughed out loud when her boss asked her not to look out her office window so much.

But not everyone in her situation would have the awareness, courage, and confidence to challenge this belief, especially if it came from an authority figure, like a boss or mentor. So many of us, including myself back in my first full-time job, would likely have taken this to heart and come to believe that acting more stressed meant being a better employee.


I 100% believe, contrary to popular ideology, that there is an inverse relationship between stress and creativity, motivation, engagement, and quality.

I know for sure that the more peace you bring into your day, the better you will feel and the better you will perform. {And yes, that includes peacefully look out of the window for a few minutes a day.}

The more empathetic and attentive we are to our own needs, priorities, and boundaries, the better employees, leaders, coworkers, friends, spouses, and creators we become.

It’s time for all of us to start saying “no” to overwhelm, stress, and burnout, and “yes” to space, peace, and life balance.

twitter-birdBeing stressed doesn’t make you important … it just makes you miserable.


If you’ve been nodding your head with me and you’re ready to reject this epidemic of celebrating stress, then here are just a few things you can try:

If you have other ideas, share them them in the comments below!


When you decide to challenge the widely held belief that stress is a badge of honor, you open yourself up for possibly being misunderstood, judged, or criticized.

Plus, you may discover some uncomfortable truths. Maybe you’ll realize that your current work culture isn’t working for you anymore. Or maybe you want to opt-out of the conventional workplace altogether. These can be scary realizations, and they might require vulnerable conversations or risky next steps.

I never said this didn’t take courage.

But when you decide to stand up for your health, happiness, and sanity … you become a leader by example, and you’ll give other people permission to do the same. That’s how change begins.

And, if you ask me, it’s about time for massive change!

So who’s with me? Who’s willing to question the norm and add a touch of rebelliousness to their workplace, all in the name of sanity, connection, health, peace, and true work/life balance?

Leave a comment to let me know!

Much Love,

Kristen (+ Rachel)

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  1. Wow – powerful stuff for sure! The most common reply I hear when asking how a person is doing is, “Oh, it’s just been crazy – I’m so busy.” Great article.

    1. Ugh, aren’t you so tired of hearing that same reply? I, personally, want to start coming up with more creative answers to that question!

  2. You pretty much told the story of my past life – 70 hours weeks in a stress-contagious environment. All the accomplishment in the world doesn’t make a life with that much constant pressure worth it. Great post, they keep getting better. 🙂

    1. I’m glad you escaped that old stressful job! You’re right, no amount of money or prestige is worth that. Thanks for being a constant CoF supporter! 🙂

  3. This is a great post! I want to add a Ted Talk that really helped me reframe how stress should be viewed in daily life. There is such a thing as too much stress, but no stress means you’re not challenging yourself either. Once you find that balance, you can embrace the coping mechanisms your body naturally produces and be more resilient and healthier as a result.

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