by Matthew Robertson April 01, 2021
Every year in the UK, on the 19th of November, people across the country recognize and celebrate International Men’s Day. If you’ve not heard of this event, it’s not a day for men to celebrate their strength and masculinity but actually to highlight important issues around men’s health.
There are three main pillars of International Men’s Day, which are:
Men’s health refers to a range of issues, including prostate and other male cancers, but also things like depression, addiction, life expectancy, and suicide rates.
It challenges perceptions of men as strong, emotionless, macho characters and opens up the arena for honest discussion about serious topics.
Mental health is a hugely important issue, as boys are often brought up to feel that they should not be emotional or sensitive, told things like “only girls cry” and that they should “man up.”
This can lead to serious mental health issues and is linked to increasingly high rates of depression and suicide in men. Three times as many men die of suicide than women, and men are three times as likely to become dependent on substances like alcohol and drugs.
As a man, it is essential to look after your mental wellbeing and ensure that the stresses, anxieties and pressures of your busy life don’t get the better of you. Here are a few excellent ways to improve your mental health.
Physical exercise has all kinds of benefits for your health. It makes you fitter and stronger, it helps you live longer, and can protect you from various diseases and ailments.
But it is also hugely beneficial for your mental health. Studies show that it has a positive impact on relieving anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. It also improves your memory, relieves stress, and raises body-confidence and self-esteem.
There are few better ways to boost your mental wellbeing than finding a sport or form of exercise you enjoy and getting good at it.
And there are so many options to explore. You might find that hitting the gym and lifting weights helps you wind down, or you might prefer to strap on your trainers and feel the burn of a long run.
It could be hiking, cycling, mountain biking, kickboxing, rock climbing, or absolutely any activity you can think of. Just thirty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day has been proven to be beneficial for all aspects of your health.
To further improve your confidence and wellbeing, set yourself a physical goal to aim for. It could be to run a half marathon, bench press a certain weight, or to hike a long-distance trail.
Striving for and completing this goal will give you a huge boost of positivity and help relieve any mental health struggles you may have.
Socialising also has numerous mental health benefits, and everyone knows a chat with your friends or a catch-up with family can always lift you up when you’re feeling down.
If you’re struggling with anything, reach out to people you love and trust.
A loved one will always be there to listen to your problems and may be able to provide helpful advice or guidance.
Even if you don’t feel comfortable sharing what you’re going through, the very act of spending time with people is often enough to make you feel better.
If you are worrying about things in your life, this adds to your stress and anxiety levels and can have severe mental health consequences further down the line. You should always try to address stressful factors in your life.
Stress can arise for any reason, no matter how trivial, but you want to eliminate it in order to achieve some much-needed calm.
The last decade has seen social media grow dramatically, and it is now an all-consuming part of our culture. You can’t walk down any street without seeing someone with their head down in their phone scrolling through Instagram or Twitter. Social media no doubt has its benefits.
It is a good way for people to stay up to date with news, connect with friends, and campaign about important issues. After all, International Men’s Day wouldn’t be so well known if not for the internet.
But it also has huge downsides. Social media platforms are designed to be psychologically addictive, and this leads to overuse, which subsequently affects our mental wellbeing.
In 2018, 41% of people claimed that social media made them feel anxious, sad, or depressed. It has also been shown to reduce attention spans and memory, as well as impacting self-esteem and confidence.
If you feel like you spend too much time on social media, and a lot of people do, try to reduce your dependence on it. See if you can learn to switch off for long periods, or set yourself a limit for usage throughout the day.
Perhaps check it once in the morning and again in the afternoon, but switch off in between. Occupy your mind with more wholesome analogue activities instead, such as reading or writing.
Sometimes, mental health issues can be remedied by finding something else to occupy your mind. When you have a hobby or interest you are passionate about, this gives your mind something to focus on, and makes you feel good.
Find your passion, whether it be reading, writing, live-action role-play, jigsaw puzzles, cinema, cooking, or photography.
Once you have discovered your calling, stick with it.
If you are seriously struggling with your mental health, there are always options to talk to a professional. There are numerous mental health and therapy services anyone can access, and organizations like the Samaritans who are always there to talk to if you are in a crisis.
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