Even in today’s more enlightened society, men are still taught to hold their emotions in and just take care of business. The problem is eventually stress will creep up from daily life until it wreaks havoc, both personally and professionally.
If not dealt with, unmanaged stress and anxiety can result in physical manifestations such as back pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and cancer.
Instead of leaving yourself vulnerable, it’s time to tackle your problems head-on. Here are a few simple ways to relieve stress and increase wellness:
See a Therapist
If you feel stuck or like you’re losing control, don’t wait until you’re in crisis mode before seeing a therapist. You don’t necessarily need go on medications but may need some better coping skills, especially if your relationships, your job and your interests are declining. A counselor can help with any destructive behaviors and thought patterns that seem to be taking over your life.
Men are less likely than women to seek mental health help because there’s the idea that a man appears weak if he needs outside assistance. Sometimes men don’t want to admit what’s wrong or they don’t want to see a therapist for something they can’t pinpoint. Another viewpoint is that men should be able to solve their own problems.
What’s troubling is that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Suicide attempts among women are higher than they are for men; however, 8 out of 10 suicides are committed by men in part because men are less inclined to seek help. Getting help today could save your life, plus make you a healthier and happier you.
Get More Sleep
The brain needs time to recover and repair at night. Otherwise, we’d be a wreck during the day. That’s what a good night’s sleep is for.
It’s well known that stress disrupts your sleep. Stress messes with the sleep cycles, creates an imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, not to mention hinders concentration, and perpetuates the stress cycle.
If you have a tough time falling asleep, staying asleep, and sleeping deeply, it’s stressful. And if you’re stressed from other events in the your life, it’s also tough to sleep. So the cycle continues.
If you can get an optimal eight hours of uninterrupted sleep a night, good for you! If you can’t get that coveted amount, take advantage of a rejuvenating 20-to-30 minute power nap instead of reaching for the cup of coffee or Red Bull. If sleep disturbances can be prevented, there will be fewer illnesses and more mental clarity throughout the day.
Meditate or Do Yoga
Dan Harris, the author of “10% Happier,” says men don’t do meditation for several reasons, including that they think it’s pointless; it strips away their edge; and it’s simply impossible to do. He argues that people should think of it as a workout — sort of like leg day at the gym.
It’s uncomfortable to sit with your thoughts. It’s hard to train our minds. But practicing mindfulness does reduce work and life stress over time, and it does get easier. It’s normal for the mind to wander. Every time you get distracted, you go back controlled breathing. It trains the mind to live in the present moment.
Another practice that can seem intimidating at first is yoga. You instantly think that you need to be able to bend yourself into a pretzel or required to wear tight yoga pants. But if you want to relieve stress, become more flexible, prevent injuries and build muscle, yoga is worth a shot,
There are tons of styles of yoga that can be beneficial depending on your goals, anything from hot power yoga that takes a lot of stamina to a mellower version of vinyasa, where mind-body connection is key.
Eat Less Junk Food
This isn’t a lecture about what you should and shouldn’t eat. Most people know that Big Macs and fries aren’t healthy options on a daily basis.
Many people like treats to some degree. If you’re one of those lucky people who can easily pass on the chips and candy bars, that’s great — but not everyone can do that. According to a study by the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management self-control is more than just willpower. It’s about learning restraint. People with higher self-control become sated more quickly when eating unhealthy foods and ate less. It’s easier to say “no” to something when you stop enjoying the experience.
However, restraint can be learned. Research participants counted how many times they chewed. “With this subtle clue to the amount eaten, those with low self-control became satisfied at a faster rate,” according to the study. “Just using a baseball pitch counter made low-self control people act like they had high self-control.”
By paying attention to what’s going down the hatch, you have control over the quantity and may feel fuller sooner and stop eating when you’re satisfied. Food can be digested better when it’s broken down into smaller parts too. If you need more information about health, nutrition and fitness, here is a nurse’s guide to health, nutrition and fitness for all demographics.
With the few simple tips above and some self-awareness, you can tackle your daily routine and busy life and live in a more mindful way. You’re not only honoring yourself; you’re doing those around you a big favor.