As research shows, the social relationships are critical for happier and less stressful lives. The role of social interactions and bonds in reducing stress has been studied in many species, in small and large animals. It was proven by same research, that social relationships are coming with enormous physical and mental benefits.
Existing social environment correlates with decreased levels of stress hormones (e.g. glucocorticoids). Hormone balance may also help improve the immune system, cardio function, fertility, mood, and cognition. Friends also reduce our overall stress levels just by being around you, not only in stressful situations.
That being said, I do not need any research to know, that my own friends helped me tremendously during the most challenging times of my career. I was leading a large drug development program for 4 years. It was such intensive time to them and to me all. In the most challenging year of 2015, I worked around 15 hours a day, including most weekends. My friends’ support and great spirit allowed me to not only survive but also thrive, even during the toughest times.
What makes professional (and private) life so much easier is that safety net, that bond created by shared experiences (good or bad). Independently how close to the top you are in the organization or on how important is your role, do not ever forget about making and maintaining friendships. Some people do. ‘Loneliness at the top’ is a poor choice. Do not push people away and do not try to feel like you have to suffer in isolation. Life’s hard, jobs are complicated and stressful. Best leaders are always people oriented -they build, cherish and maintain those precious relationships, even after leaving a particular employer or a job.