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Exploring Challenges To Men’s Mental Health And Wellbeing

Exploring Challenges To Men’s Mental Health And Wellbeing

It’s very common to face mental health issues such as depression or anxiety at some point in your life. And while both men and women can experience mental health problems, the way that these issues manifest across genders can be quite different. This is because a lot of men think that to be a “real man”, they have to be a strong, silent, breadwinner, who keeps his feelings on the inside. Changing your idea of masculinity can be tough, but it’s worth reflecting on your values and creating space for a more balanced, fulfilling energy.

How do men and women experience mental health issues differently?

Most of us won’t be surprised to learn that men often don’t speak up about their mental health difficulties. According to the American Psychological Association, 9% of men in the United States experience daily feelings of depression or anxiety. But of those 9%, only one in four say that they’ve spoken to a mental health professional about their struggles.

Why the silence? Many researchers think that it’s to do with the expectations that society places on men. Just like many women feel pressured to look or act a certain way, so do men. They often feel like they need to be strong and in control. Many men think that talking about sensitive and emotional topics may make them look weak. 

However, this actually couldn’t be further from the truth. Opening up to others and working towards a healthier mental state can be tough. Having the strength to take a step forward on that journey is always a brave and admirable thing to do.

What are some ways that men can improve their mental health?

If you’re a man who’s been feeling the pressures of life lately, you may be wondering what you can do to reset. And if you’re a woman who wants to support a man in her life, you may also find these tips helpful.

Reflect on your idea of masculinity

Right from the day we’re born, we start forming an idea of what a “real man” looks like. This image is shaped by our parents, our teachers, our friends, the TV we watch, the books we read, and so much more. 

Looking at this image with a critical eye can be challenging, but it’s definitely worth doing. Does your idea of ideal masculinity involve suffering through life in silence and bottling up your feelings? Or does it allow for communication, friendship, trust, and self-acceptance? Once you’ve formed an image of healthy masculinity that you’d like to embody, you’ll find it much easier to let go of any toxic masculinity you’re holding on to.

Get a check-up

Many branches of medicine are based on the idea that the body functions as a single, holistic system. Therefore, you might be surprised by how much your physical health can affect your mental wellbeing, and vice versa. If you’re struggling with your mental health, checking in with your doctor is always a good idea. This way, you can make sure you aren’t deficient in any key nutrients or experiencing any conditions that may be negatively impacting your physical health.

Go on a (mental) diet

While it’s important to eat a healthy and balanced diet, I’m not just talking about food here. It’s vital to keep in mind that everything we consume affects us. Do the people you spend time with uplift you and make you feel confident? Does the news you read just give you the facts, or does it sensationalize things and make you feel anxious? Think about the podcasters, influencers, authors, and YouTubers you engage with. How do their messages make you feel? 

Maybe you’ll realize that some of the social media accounts you follow make you feel inadequate. Perhaps you’ll realize a friend you have is always doubting your abilities and being around them impacts your wellbeing. If so, it may be time to limit how much you expose yourself to that energy.

Get in touch with your feminine side

For many men, being the provider, working hard, and protecting the people they care about comes naturally to them. However, this can be very tiring. Some people compare feminine energy with “being”, and masculine energy with “doing”. While being in that “doing” state is often productive and fulfilling, it’s vital that you spend some time in both states. 

Try to spend 10-20% of your time, or as much as you feel you need, in a state of “being”. This can include things like listening to others (such as talking with loved ones, or listening to an interesting podcast), reading a good book, doing a quiet creative practice like drawing, taking a walk, or simply relaxing. When you integrate feminine energy into your life, it doesn’t make you weak – it makes you balanced.

Spend time in nature

If you want a really easy and achievable way to boost your mental wellbeing, I highly recommend spending some time in green spaces. Research suggests that being outdoors can promote calm, relieve stress, and boost your wellbeing. One study, of 20,000 people, found that it takes two hours outside per week to reap these benefits. You can spread the two hours out, such as by walking through a park to work each day instead of driving. Or, you could make hiking a staple part of your weekend. Try it, and see if it works for you.

Letting go of toxic masculinity and embracing our softer, more feminine side is vital for living an authentic and balanced life – but it can be very hard. I’m always available to help guide you through the process – feel free to contact me any time for a chat.

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