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Understanding men's mental health: breaking the stigma

May 31, 2024
5 minutes
Personal Health
Seasonal health

In 2021, it was estimated that nearly 20% of men were living with a mental illness. In the same year, 82% of men reported dealing with extreme stress, and 73% reported experiencing anxiety. If you're a man living with a mental health issue, you may feel like you're alone, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Men's health is often ignored due to stigma and societal conditioning. While the tides are slowly turning, many men still feel uncomfortable discussing mental health issues, reporting embarrassment and negative stigma as the reasons they're hesitant to reach out. While talking about mental health can take courage, it's essential that men in crisis seek help. In 2021, deaths by suicide were four times higher in males than in females.

Here, we'll explore the steps that you can take to protect your mental health, as well as how you can get the care you need if you're struggling.

An important note: if you're having thoughts about hurting yourself or someone else, or if you're dealing with a crisis or emergency, call or text 988 to connect with a mental health professional who can support you.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety

Sometimes, it can be hard to recognize the signs of mental health distress in men.

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Clenched jaw and/or grinding teeth
  • Pounding heart and/or high blood pressure
  • Indigestion, stomach cramps, constipation, diarrhea
  • Unexplained weight changes
  • Chest pain, pounding heart, and/or high blood pressure

Psychological symptoms may include:

  • Decreased productivity
  • Increased substance use
  • Decreased anger control
  • Changes in relationships
  • Withdrawal
  • Sadness and crying

The role of healthy habits in mental health management

Incorporating healthy behaviors into your day-to-day life can go a long way in supporting your mental health. If you've been feeling overwhelmed, or you've fallen off of using healthy habits to manage your stress levels, it can feel like a struggle to get back into the habits that help you feel your best. Thankfully, adding just one or two healthy habits to your daily routine can support your mental health.

Stress management techniques: mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation exercises

Taking just a few minutes each day to incorporate stress management techniques can help you keep your cool throughout the day, no matter what life brings your way. Paying attention to your surroundings can help you practice mindfulness. Simply put away your phone and take a few moments to notice what's happening in the world around you. Using meditation apps and other relaxation tools can also help you stay centered despite stressors that occur in your day.

Exercise and physical activity: boosting mood and reducing anxiety

Exercise can work wonders when it comes to stress relief. Using a tracker on your phone can be a great way to keep an eye on your physical health, and to notice how your stress levels shift depending on your activity. The positive effects of exercise aren't in your head—research shows that physical activity works to stimulate chemicals in your brain that reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.

Nutrition and diet: fueling the mind and body for mental wellness

When you eat in a way that fuels your body, you get the energy that's necessary to cope with difficult emotions, including stress, according to Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Adding omega-3 fats (such as those found in seafood) and loading up on veggies can help to regulate your body's levels of cortisol (a stress hormone).

Sleep hygiene: the importance of quality sleep for mental health

Getting high-quality sleep can make a world of difference when it comes to mental health, but often, getting a good night of shut-eye is more easily said than done. Using a sleep tracking app can provide you with some insight on where you're starting with your sleep hygiene, and can inform your next steps when it comes to getting the rest you need.

Thankfully, there are some simple steps that you can take to increase the quality of your sleep:

  • Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day
  • Abstain from drinking alcohol for at least six hours before going to bed
  • Stop drinking caffeinated beverages after noon
  • Spend some time exercising each day, and don't exercise too close to bedtime if it makes it harder for you to sleep
  • Keep your room around 65 degrees
  • Use light-blocking curtains to make your room as dark as possible

Social connection and support systems: building strong relationships

Connecting with friends, family, and those in your community can help to bolster your mental health. Spending time with others doesn't just help your well-being in the moment—doing so can also help you to recover from anxiety, stress, and depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Seeking professional help: therapy, counseling, and other resources

If you're struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, or another mental health issue, you aren't alone. While it can feel nerve-wracking to reach out for help, doing so can be a life-saving sign of strength. If you're not sure where to start, click here to take a look at Mental Health First Aid, where you'll be able to access screenings and learn more about treatment options. Working with a therapist, counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist can help you learn the coping strategies necessary to manage stress, anxiety, and depression.

If you notice that a friend or a loved one is struggling with their mental health, don't hesitate to reach out to them and offer them support when necessary. Letting them know that you're on their side and there to help can turn the tides for someone who is in the throes of anxiety, depression, or extreme stress.

While prioritizing your mental health can take some practice, it's an important step in creating an overall sense of well-being. Taking steps to manage anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health issues can help you fully enjoy your life, and incorporating healthy habits into your routine can support your efforts to improve your mental health. The Evidation app, with your permission, uses the health data you're already tracking to provide you with personalized insights and articles to help you make the most of every day. Click here to check out the app and learn more.

Seasonal health
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