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Stressed Out? Rob Lacroix Talks About Stress

Categories: Healthcare

Rob Lacroix is a coach and helps people suffering from stress to feel and function better and more effectively. He is a trained coach and an experience expert on stress.  

Let’s face it life and work can be complicated.

In our busy world it can be difficult to maintain a healthy work life balance. This difficulty is certainly exasperated by choosing a life or career abroad. Rob indicates that many expats encounter unique moments of intense stress mainly due to having moved abroad.

In addition to the stress factors of normal life, internationals have to deal with additional feelings such as homesickness or the feeling of not belonging both at home and/or abroad. Furthermore many of his clients struggle with what is known as the “trailing spouse syndrome”. Having moved with your partner or spouse abroad can cause feelings of, not contributing, not having a goal to get out of bed or having to put one’s career or dreams on hold. All of which can add to daily stress.

Types of Stress

 Stress can be roughly divided in two categories:

  • Unnecessary Stress: Stress which  you can learn to avoid
  • Unavoidable Stress: Stress which you can learn to deal with in a better way.

In order to effectively combat or better manage stress, it’s important to learn what stress is and how to recognize it.

Stress In The Netherlands

Today, countless scientific studies are being conducted on work related stress. A vast majority of studies show that a large part of the workforce in the Netherlands (including expats), suffers from stress and stress related issues. In certain age groups as much as 17% of the workforce suffers or has suffered from burnout related issues. “These numbers are to be taken seriously”, Rob explains.

What is stress?

Stress is a mental and physical response to something that happens to an individual and comes in three phases, which are in sequence of increasing severity below:

Incidental stress

Incidental stress occurs now and then, followed by periods of recuperation and rest. For instance, you need to send out that important email, things get busy and so you stress. After sending the email, usually the stress disappears and you feel ok again. You are peaking and then resting properly. Your body, mind and energy levels can deal with this fairly comfortably without too much strain. Your batteries are at most times well charged.


Overspannenheid is a prolonged continuous period of chronic stress. In other words, you peak and maintain peak levels of stress and are not able to recover effectively. This leads to an inability to rest and which then impacts your ability to function normally. Overspannenheid also leads to mental and physical complaints. Due to the lack of rest and recovery, your batteries are almost but not completely empty. The good news is, Rob explains, one still has the ability to make a change and recover and get back to normal.


During the overspannenheid phase your body sends out important signals that can help you prevent the situation from deteriorating. In the event that one keeps ignoring these signals, a burnout is surely around the corner. A burnout is a state of utter exhaustion, both mental and physical. Symptoms include not knowing how to get out of bed or where to find the energy to get through the day. Your batteries are completely empty, and before you can recover, one needs to recharge first.

If the difference between bouncing back from overspannenheid and ending up with a burnout, is listening to the symptoms/signals, how do you recognize them?

“Nothing wrong, just a busy period, just have to work a bit harder, a bit more, will sleep some more in the weekend to make up…..” Ever heard yourself says this or something similar? “Well that’s your brain lying to you” said Rob. When the brain detects signals related to stress, it starts to rationalize them and pushes them away.

Your body on the other hand, never lies. It can’t interpret events and therefore will always  transmit the signals as they are. Your body will always clearly show stress.

Indicators of stress are:

  • Breathing (high, higher, highest)
  • Tension in your body (abdomen, back, neck)
  • Cramps in your abdomen
  • Sweating

“By themselves the above symptoms are no reason for alarm, they can just as well mean that you are falling in love, but when combined with the following symptoms there should be reason for concern.” says Rob:

  • Deep and utter feeling of mental and physical fatigue
  • Being uncertain about and having difficulty making decisions
  • Tensed, easily and highly irritable
  • Loss of concentration and forgetting things that matter
  • And last, but certainly not least: Sleep disorder

These are signals you should not ignore. Rob calls these mental and physical signals the “early warning system”. In fact this “early warning system” is the strongest tool one has to prevent stress from going bad to worse. The key he is says is “learning to listen to it.”

To Conclude

Listen to your body, learn to read the signs. If you find that difficult, there are a myriad of books and otherwise feel free to contact Rob who can help with coping mechanisms

Rob Lacroix is a stress coach at ExpatCoachingCompany.nl, and  can help you feel and function better under stress. Want to get in touch? Email at [email protected] or look him up on LinkedIn.


The thoughts, ideas and advice disclosed in this article are solely those of Rob Lacroix at Expat Coaching Company.

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