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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Dad's powerful story is sparking a vital conversation about working culture

Dad's powerful story is sparking a vital conversation about working culture

Jonathan Frostick, a regulatory programme manager for HSBC, was getting ready for work last Sunday when he had a heart attack.

It’s time to talk about the impact of overworking

As his ears popped and his chest felt tight, the dad-of-three didn’t see his life flash before his eyes.

Instead, he worried about work.

He shared this in a post to LinkedIn, written from his hospital bed, and has since started a crucial conversation about the way we work.

‘So I had a heart attack,’ wrote Jonathan. ‘I sat down at my desk at 4pm to prep for this week’s work.

‘And then I couldn’t really breathe. My chest felt constrained, I had what I can only describe as surges in my left arm, my neck, my ears were popping.’

After describing the moment of heart attack, Jonathan explains that his experience prompted some serious changes.

Jonathan shared how having a heart attack has changed his approach to work


He came up with six rules for his life going forward: to no longer spend all day on Zoom, to restructure his approach to work, to stop putting up with sh*t (because life is too short), to lose 15kg, to make every day count for something, and to spend more time with his family.

That post ended up being shared far and wide, and attracted more than 13,000 comments, with many saying Jonathan had inspired them to take a harsh look at their work/life balance.


Jonathan Frostick's full LinkedIn post:


So I had a heart attack…

This is not how I planned my Sunday. It was pretty standard up to 4pm. Morning coffee, a trip to the local country park, a shopping trip and late lunch.

I sat down at my desk at 4pm to prep for this weeks work. And then I couldn’t really breathe. My chest felt constrained, I had what I can only describe as surges in my left arm, my neck, my ears were popping.

I didn’t get a flash of light, my life race through my mind. Instead I had:

1. Fuck I needed to meet with my manager tomorrow, this isn’t convenient

2. How do I secure the funding for X (work stuff)

3. Shit I haven’t updated my will

4. I hope my wife doesn’t find me dead

I got to the bedroom so I could lie down, and got the attention of my wife who phoned 999.

I’ve since made the following decisions whilst I’ve laid here, on the basis I don’t die:

1. I’m not spending all day on zoom anymore

2. I’m restructuring my approach to work

3. I’m really not going to be putting up with any s#%t at work ever again – life literally is too short

4. I’m losing 15kg

5. I want every day to count for something at work else I’m changing my role

6. I want to spend more time with my family

And that, so far, is what near death has taught me.


Charlotte Davies, LinkedIn Careers Expert, says we should see Jonathan’s story as an important reminder of how vital it is to care for your mental and physical wellbeing alongside work.

‘Many of us have been fortunate enough to keep our jobs and continue to work remotely during this unprecedented time, but that’s not to say that working from home has not been without its challenges,’ she explains.

‘LinkedIn research in partnership with the The Mental Health Foundation found that 56% of people who were working remotely felt more anxious or stressed, and many were working 28 hours extra a month.

‘Switching off from work at home is never easy, but it’s important to manage expectations of yourself and others to find a good work/life balance.’

For those feeling overwhelmed, she recommends these small changes:

*  Try a fake commute – While we may not be missing the daily rush-hour crush, we are missing that window of time to ease into the day ahead or unwind afterwards. Many workers now claim to be taking a ‘fake commute’, with 50% opting to go for a walk during their ‘commuting’ time, and others reading (5%) or having a lie-in (37%). Try reading a few pages of a book while sipping on your morning coffee before work begins – it could transform your mindset for the day.

*  Shake up your ‘home-office’ set up: Separating work from our personal life can often come down to where we work in our homes, so it’s important to shake things up during the week. It could be as simple as finding a new space to work from or making small changes to your current set-up – if you usually work in the kitchen, try moving to another room in the house, or even the garden, now the weather is getting warmer.

*  Stay connected – Take the time to reach out to people in your professional communities to share your challenges and experiences. You’ll be surprised at how many people are feeling the same as you. We’ve seen members discuss everything from WFH with kids to setting new work boundaries.

These steps might help, but for many, they’re not enough.

It’s essential that if you’re feeling burned out, you take this seriously.

Talk to your workplace about personal boundaries, make sure you set ones that work for you, and stick to them.

If a job is making you miserable, question whether it’s right for you – and what you can do that feels good.

And never be afraid to reach out for support. Yes, sometimes work is stressful, but it shouldn’t be destroying you – your health is important, and not worth sacrificing to meet a deadline or respond to an email.

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