With the rise of mental health issues and with the COVID pandemic forcing less and less interactions amongst co-workers and leaders, senior leaders in many organizations are suffering numerous new ailments and challenges. With this workplace scenario continuing to be a problem, as times progress with more and more complications arising, many leaders are reaching breaking points in their personal lives. With no one to reach out to, many of these leaders may be suffering from what Nick Jonsson, the Co-founder and Managing Director of Executives Global Network in Singapore, calls “executive loneliness” that arises when top executives are exposed to extreme and prolonged stress, resulting in an increase in anxiety, isolation, and depression.
Watch this interview on YouTube here. https://youtu.be/b6TCGyysI-A
On this episode, you will learn:
✔︎ What is “Executive Loneliness” and how has the Pandemic caused us to make our mental and physical health a priority?
✔︎ Nick’s story and why he is passionate about talking about what others would rather shy away from.
✔︎ What is “smiling depression” and how to recognize when change is needed for yourself, and others.
✔︎ 5 Steps to Recovery outlined in Nick’s book “Executive Loneliness”
✔︎ Where to begin to make changes with our physical and mental health.
✔︎ What increasing your activity looks like and how to measure it.
We just uncovered on EPISODE #188 “Putting Your Mental and Physical Health First”[i] the shocking statistic that “one-quarter of Americans intend to improve their mental health in 2022”[ii] and that according to a poll conducted by the American Psychiatric Association, “almost 70 million adults resolve to find ways to improve their mental health this coming year”[iii] but Nick Jonsson, from Singapore, shows us that this is a global issue, and he wants to raise awareness of this phenomenon, no longer being quiet about the issues he has personally faced himself.
For those new, or returning guests, welcome back! I’m Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you listening, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies that we can use to improve our productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments. My vision is to bring the experts to you, share their books, resources, and ideas to help you to implement their proven strategies, whether you are a teacher working in the classroom or in the corporate environment.
In his book, Executive Loneliness,[iv] Nick Jonsson outlines that most executives and leaders often do nothing to address this phenomenon of “loneliness” for fear of appearing unsuccessful and frowned upon. Worst, he shares that not addressing it exacerbates the negative and difficult feelings, to the point where it becomes more and more difficult for them to function. Ultimately, it takes a toll on their whole life.[v]
As we were looking for leaders around the world to launch of year, with a focus on physical and mental health, Nick Jonsson was the one I wanted to launch our year with to be our first interview of 2022. If you follow Nick on social media, (and I’ll put all his links in the show notes) you will notice that he puts his physical health first (which we have shown on this podcast is one of the top health staples to make an impact on your overall physical and mental health) –you will see him riding his bike, hiking, and training at his local pool.
Let’s meet Nick Jonsson and see what we can learn together with his experience and knowledge, to put our mental and physical health first this year.
Nick, I like to open up the podcast with a question where we can get to know you a bit better, and just from looking over your social media posts over the holidays, it was more like a lesson in Geography, with health and wellness, and family tied in.
INTRO: Can you share a bit about what you’ve been up to over the holidays, that took you to 4 countries, with your family, and how you kept health at the forefront the entire time?
I saw you training the other day at your local pool in Singapore—how are things these days with COVID protocols over there? Still very strict?
Q1: It was important for me to launch 2022 with you, with your focus on mental and physical health, that’s our focus for Season 7 of our podcast. I know this is the question that most people ask you, and I’ve linked the podcast you did with From Survivor to Thriver[vi] so our listeners can learn more about you, but can you just a bit of your background with the 2 stories that coincided, to bring you to not be quiet around a topic that many people still shy away from?
Q2: I wonder if we can tie in this issue of executive loneliness, leading to an increase in anxiety, isolation, and depression, to something that our first responders might be going through these days or even those teachers who have been sent back to teaching online again, stress is at an all-time high in many sectors. I heard it described recently from someone working in policing who broke down and had to leave the field, to a desk job, and is on track for early retirement now, because all that pressure builds up over time (A good analogy I heard is like a garbage can getting filled up until the can overflows, just like the stress building up with a person until they can’t take it anymore).
You explain the pressure in the corporate world (all the meetings, being the first one in the office, the last one to leave, the one keeping it all together, and you still must be at your best and perform when there’s little time for yourself. I saw the parallel with many different sectors who are being pushed to the limits in a way that’s not far off from how you describe what you see with senior executives. Before we even begin to look at strategies and solutions for this serious issue, how would someone know that change needs to occur?
2B) Was the Pandemic an eye-opener for people to begin health programs?
2C) What are the trends you are seeing Internationally with working on the weekends?
Q3: I love how you’ve clearly outlined what you think is important with your 5 Steps to Recovery in your book. You walk the reader through all the steps with some very important things to consider in the early stages, since no one usually talks about these things and I do think it’s important that we do talk about the things that make us uncomfortable, for change to occur. Can you explain “smiling depression” and what to look for, and the support systems should we all know about?
Q4: And what about for someone listening, who might be in a rut themselves, and making any sort of change is difficult, so where do you suggest for someone to begin to make the changes that will instigate an improvement with their health instead of staying in that cycle that leads to more overwhelmed?
Q5: I love how you tie “Getting Healthy” into your book, and we’ve been focused on the Top 5 staples on this podcast (Nutrition, Sleep, Exercise, Relaxation/Meditation and Tools to Help Us with our Mental/Physical Health). It didn’t take me longer than a minute to skim through your social media pages when I was writing these questions to notice that you practice what you preach, which is awesome! I saw you relaxing with your son, at the cinema in Sweden, your sleep data (WOW) showing 15 hours of sleep (you must really have needed it) and a 120 km (74 mile) bike ride (woah!) I thought I was cool after a 7-mile hike!! Can you take us through what you normally do for training, and what tools do you use to measure your workouts, sleep and rest?
Q6: Is there anything important about your book that I have missed?
Q7: What are some ways that people could work with you? https://nickjonsson.com/page/work-with-nick
I’ve put all of the links to your social media accounts in the show notes, and I want to thank you very much Nick for speaking with me today, as this topic is timely and important. You’ve given us so many ideas to help our listeners who might be launching the year with some overwhelm, with some specific steps they can take to launch 2022 with their mental and physical health at the forefront of their mind, to truly make it their best year ever. Thanks Nick! Have an incredible Thursday!
FOLLOW NICK JONSSON ON SOCIAL MEDIA
15 Male Celebrities Who Have Struggled with Depression by Ben Radding Feb. 22, 2019 https://www.menshealth.com/health/g26445823/celebrities-with-depression/
[i]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #188 on “Putting Your Mental and Physical Health First” https://andreasamadi.podbean.com/e/brain-fact-friday-on-putting-our-mental-and-physical-health-first/
[ii] One-quarter of Americans Intend to Improve Mental Health in 2022 December 20, 2021 https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20211220/onequarter-of-americans-intend-to-improve-mental-health-in-2022
[v] Roshan Teran, A Review of Executive Loneliness Published June 6, 2021 https://www.leaderonomics.com/articles/personal/executive-loneliness
[vi] From Survivor to Thriver Podcast with Nick Jonsson https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-38-nick-jonsson-if-we-can-talk-to-each-other/id1551758201?i=1000544204022