While studies show that women are more likely to experience depression and anxiety symptoms than men, there is a silent epidemic happening as we speak and men everywhere including someone you know is suffering from depression or anxiety in silence. Accepting anxiety and taking action to manage symptoms tends to be difficult for men and that’s why so many suffer in silence.
Men have been brought up to be tough, manage pain and take care of their family and situations without complaining or feeling stressed, they’ve heard expressions such as ‘toughen up’,’ boys don’t cry’ and ‘be brave and strong no matter what’. One in every six men will experience anxiety symptoms and one in eight men will experience depression. These illnesses will often go untreated in men as they are less likely to communicate how they’re feeling.
BALANCING ACT FOR MEN TOO
We often speak about women balancing work, home, and family, but rarely focus on men having these same stresses, trying to balance it all and stay emotionally well. And when we talk about achieving overall wellness, the focus tends to lead to women and their self-care. Health and wellness are as equally important for a man as it is for a woman. More men in this day and age are pitching in with responsibilities in the home and taking care of the kids all while working full time themselves, so it’s only natural that they would be faced with the same stresses as a woman.
Look around, you’d be hard-pressed to find many men talking about self-care and wellness, why is that? Why are topics such as erectile dysfunction, testicular self-exams, rectal exams, male friendships, loneliness and anxiety symptoms rarely discussed by men? Some may say that it tarnishes their masculinity, that it shows weakness and vulnerabilities that men just aren’t willing to expose. But the hard and fast truth is, when men don’t focus on their emotional and physical health it is resulting in some pretty alarming statistics.
STAGGERING STATISTICS THAT CANNOT BE IGNORED
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) says that among Canadians of all ages four of every five suicides are male. In the U.K men are three times more likely to die by suicide than a woman and in New South Wales, Australia, suicide has overtaken car accidents as the leading cause of death in males since 1991. Are these statistics as surprising to you as they are to me? This is a worldwide epidemic and now more than ever we need to focus on supporting men by promoting their self-care and emotional wellness.
4 STEPS MEN CAN TAKE TO REDUCE NEGATIVE AFFECTS OF ANXIETY
We can encourage the men in our lives to take an active role in their overall wellness. There are steps that men can take to help reduce negative effects of anxiety symptoms and it’s important that we as a society continue to bring awareness to men everywhere that emotional health, loneliness, and stress are common situations and not a sign of weakness. Let’s have a look at some these steps that can be taken to help reduce anxiety
1. Develop a regular exercise habit ( 4 – 6 times per week). This stimulates endorphins which will improve mood and make a person more relaxed. It shifts the focus away from fears, obsessions, and overly self-conscious reactions
2. Adopt a healthy nutritious diet – this will contribute to emotional and physical wellness
3. Get out of the house and participate in hobbies or activities that bring joy. Being outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine helps anxieties to subside
4. Confront anxiety symptoms head-on by talking to someone you trust, a family member, close friend or professional
5. Try meditating, now I’m sure many of you men are thinking, yeah right! No thank you, but technology has come a long way and you can now meditate with a Muse headband. This device translates your mental activity into weather sounds to help you achieve calmness and relaxation. To learn more about the muse headband, click here
Taking an active role by following these steps could very well reduce anxiety symptoms and help men improve their overall health and wellness.
WHAT MEN SHOULD NOT DO WHEN SUFFERING FROM ANXIETY
Many men experiencing anxiety symptoms will not acknowledge the depth of what they’re feeling and may not even be able to put a name to it. I’m sure that men have heard the term anxiety but would some men know what to look for when it comes to symptoms? Could what they are experiencing be an anxiety disorder? As a result of this lack of knowledge or hidden experiences often men will never seek out the treatment needed to overcome their symptoms.
If men are experiencing anxiety symptoms, or what they think maybe anxiety symptoms, here are some things that they should NOT
- Try to tough it out – this ultimately feeds into the anxiety making symptoms stronger
- Hide it from friends and loved ones – social support helps to cope with symptoms and circumstances, talking can help reduce symptoms
- Do not think of yourself as weak, anxiety is an emotional response to an event or stressful occurrence and should be seen as a call to action, not shame and embarrassment
- Turn to drugs and alcohol – 1 fifth of anxiety sufferers turn to substances to numb symptoms and feelings of anxiety and men make of the majority of this group. Anxiety disorders and substance abuse often go hand in hand
HOW TO SUPPORT SOMEONE WITH ANXIETY
Our focus topic in this article is achieving wellness for men however these steps below can be used when supporting anyone through anxiety symptoms
- Spend time with them and listen to their experiences without judgment
- Help them seek out information about what they are feeling by going to a health center or checking out websites
- Encourage them to seek help from their doctor or therapist
- Offer to go to appointments with them and follow up afterward
- Discourage the use of drugs and alcohol
ACCEPTANCE LEADS TO TREATMENT WHICH LEADS TO WELLNESS
Anxiety disorders are treatable conditions and if suffering from overwhelming symptoms, it’s important to seek out professional help. Don’t let pride get in your way. By opening up honestly about what your experiencing, it can take a load of stress off your shoulders and give you an opportunity quite possibly to connect with others experiencing the same thing.
Men everywhere need to learn to become more accepting of how they’re feeling and versed in self-care and not be judged for doing so. Anxiety is not a sign of weakness but a force that requires taking action head-on, because we’re all ultimately responsible for our own wellness. And while we’re working toward overall wellness, let’s lift each other up in the process.
Let me know what your thoughts are on this discussion or the experiences you may have had.