With phrases like ‘Man Up’ and ‘Be a Man’ still popping up in 2022, it’s time that we address the ways in which our collective definition of masculinity is affecting men’s health around the world. But, unfortunately, these phrases are nothing but a narrow-minded representation of what masculinity is about.
Most people use these phrases with an intention to ‘encourage’ men to step up to their responsibilities, be stronger and control their emotions, while in reality, it’s just proving to have a ‘discouraging’ effect on mental health and subsequently physical well-being of men around the world.
With every ‘Be a Man’ said, a man is being pushed one step closer to depression, low self-esteem, and engaging in unhealthy activities and behaviors. With every ‘Be a Man’ said, a boy is crying all alone in the bathroom out of fear and embarrassment of being judged and belittled for his emotions. And the fact that “on average one man dies by suicide every minute of every day” tells us that we really cannot afford to continue this dangerous attitude if we want the generations to come to live a healthy and happy life.
From a man losing his job to another struggling from his stressful relationships to a man sabotaging his own success because of his low self-esteem, all of them found it very difficult to communicate about what was stressing them for a long time until they reached an emotional breakdown or a physical burnout.
By working together, these men have learned how to love themselves, set boundaries, create a healthy and realistic life-work balance, forgive themselves and others, prioritize their needs, and still be able to be productive and healthy.
Mental health issues don’t discriminate. People of all genders can experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. But they may look different in men.
Mental health symptoms in men might include:
- Anger and aggressiveness
- Trouble focusing
- Constant feelings of worry
- Engagement in high-risk activities
- Unusual behavior that concerns others
- Thoughts of suicide
They can also have physical symptoms such as:
- Changes in appetite and energy
- New aches and pains
- Digestive issues
- Trouble sleeping
- Sleeping more than usual
- Fast Heart Beats and trouble breathing
Mental health can be hard to think about. And identifying that you’re finding it difficult or that you might need help isn’t always easy — particularly for men. But, it’s best to speak out. Whether you open up to a friend or family member or consult your mental health expert, there’s help out there and ways to help manage your well-being yourself, too. Don’t be a man about It. Be a real man and love yourself as you should.
Here are some simple tips to help you boost your mental health. All of these tips are time-efficient and cost-effective and are suitable for everyone. Ready to start today? Let’s go!
- Start your day with a no-phone policy and practice mental health exercises (Journaling, Meditation, Breathing, Stretching, Laughing, Music, etc.)
- Get a gratitude and achievement journal. (Include three things you were grateful for and three things you were able to accomplish each day.)
- Reduce your amount of daily technology use and media consumption
- Actively set yourself some me-time to do something you enjoy
- Spend 15 minutes in natural sunlight
- Be strong and ask for help when you need it (Be it a friend, a family member, or an expert)
- Make an effort to reconnect and socialize with supportive and loving friends
- Make a conscious effort to go to sleep at a regular, early time
- Commit to regular and consistent exercise (daily walks, weekly fitness class, stretch, tennis, etc.)
- Eat a well-balanced, nutritional diet and cut back on alcohol and junk food
- It is a privilege to be born a man, and you need to honor yourself for it. It’s your right to be happy and to be in peace, so that you can in your best capacity contribute not only to the financial, emotional, spiritual, physical and mental well-being of yourself and your family; also the community and the world at large.
Ray Kobeissi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org