A short guide on improving men’s mental health this Movember
When it comes to men’s mental health, there seems to be a greater stigma about declaring that they have a mental health issue compared to women. This perhaps isn’t surprising given that many have been raised to not show emotions as these are somehow a sign of weakness or not coping.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, women are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem, but “this reflects women’s greater willingness to acknowledge that they are troubled and then get support”. Unfortunately, male suicide is much greater than for the rate of women, perhaps again reflecting how men don’t ask for support at an early stage and so the issues escalate into a major mental health emergency.
The stereotypes associated with men being expected to act tough – to be ‘real men’ without ‘soft emotions’ – contributes significantly to the stigma attached to mental health problems. These social conventions prevent men from reaching out for help when their mental health is suffering.
Perhaps starting a conversation by asking how someone is, really is, could unlock a helpful discussion about mental health.
Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. With the stress and demands that take a toll on our minds, we can feel anxious and under pressure, but with a few lifestyle and attitude changes, you can ensure that your mental health doesn’t suffer.
Here are some tips to help you maintain your mental health on an ongoing basis:
EAT A BALANCED DIET: Make sure that you are eating lots of fresh, unprocessed food and drinking plenty of water. Taking care of yourself physically will pay dividends for your mental wellbeing in the long term.
WATCH HOW MUCH YOU’RE DRINKING: Drinking too much alcohol, as well as other drugs, will put pressure on your physical health and apart from an initial high will leave you feeling depressed, sluggish and feeling tired.
EXERCISE: Get moving at least three times a week to produce those ‘feel good’ endorphins and boost your physical health.
RELAX: whether it’s yoga or meditation or making time every day for some breathing exercises, find a way to relax that suits you and your lifestyle so you can clear your mind and take a step back from what might be causing you stress.
AVOID NEGATIVITY: If you’re constantly thinking negatively it will stop you from enjoying life. Take action to learn to think more positively, perhaps seeking advice from a professional counselor or your doctor?
DEVELOP A POSITIVE OUTLOOK: If you approach what’s in front of you with a positive outlook the way you tackle the challenges that you need to face will dramatically change and you’re more likely to see opportunities rather than the problems.
MAKE TIME FOR HOBBIES: Taking time out can help you to recharge depleted energy and find the resources to cope with other areas of your life.
MANAGE YOUR STRESS: You’re not likely to ever fully remove stress or anxiety from your life so the next best thing you can do is learn how to manage and reduce it. If you suspect your stress levels are too high, it’s probably the right time to get some help.
GO WITH THE FLOW: Try not to dwell on the past or worry about the future, it’ll only increase your stress levels, so focus on appreciating the present and where you are right now.
SLEEP HYGIENE: If you’re not sleeping well this can negatively impact your decision making, your mood and your ability to put things into perspective. Make a difference by analysing how you can improve your sleep hygiene such as by not spending time looking at your phone when in bed.
The stigma won’t go away overnight, but, on the positive side, things are changing. There is clearly still a lot to do but, if you are experiencing mental health issues, take it from us, mental health problems can affect anyone and there are people and organizations who can and will help you. You have nothing to be ashamed of.