Men’s Health has taken a back seat for as long as I can remember. Often a search on mens health will show a list of fitness articles and ways to get a six pack. Perfect if that’s what you want, however the men I speak with have more on their mind than abs and muscles. Having a six pack is wonderful if that’s what you want, but let’s start with the foundations and really changing men’s health at a much deeper level first.
There’s an old saying, “A man’s work is never done”…….the old saying that seems to continue to this day. While this is not a gender-specific saying, there is certainly a pressure on men that I have seen increase over the years. A pressure for men to keep going at work, no matter what, to push through physically no matter how they feel and to hold onto their emotions instead of learning how to express them in a healthy way.
Changing men’s health starts from the foundations and once strong, we build from there.
After decades of helping men, I still hear the old sayings “I have to work”, “work is more important”, “It won’t get done without me”, “If I don’t do it no one will” “people are relying on me” “my health can wait, this can’t” “I’m the breadwinner”……the list goes on.
Though all areas of health are equally important, there is a particular area that needs to be addressed immediately if not sooner. Men and mental health is an area that really must be addressed if we are truly interested in changing men’s health.
Research has shown “On average, one in eight men will experience depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives.” It’s no secret that men are more hesitant to seek help when they experience health challenges. of any kind. The biggest issue here is that many men wait so long, what could have been dealt with early on, now becomes a health crisis. Changing men’s health means behaviour like this becomes part of the past.
I know men who have continued to work through enormous amounts of pain, stress, anxiety, depression and more. Men who while experiencing pain, were still more concerned with sending emails, making sure the work was done, how they would be perceived in the workplace and at home and how quickly they could get better so they could get back to work.
I even know a man who went to work in a wheelchair while injured rather than just allowing himself the time to heal.
This is not to say women have not done and do the same thing, it’s simply that men still have a different perspective and pressures that continue to be societal norms creating the need to continue, push on and be tough.
Many men feel the need to be almost gladiator-like, especially when it comes to work. These are all points we need to consider in changing men’s health and the many benefits to us all, that come with men being their best and performing in optimal health.
Changing Men’s Health and Our Community
While the family unit is changing and our community changes its expectations and our roles in society continues to evolve men are still feeling challenged in many areas. To show up no matter what and have the work ethic of an ox, and to hold in emotions like a strong man does are all old narratives that we are thankfully now letting go. Changing men’s health needs to start with removing the old perceptions and beliefs held about them and their health in our society, and exchanging them with elevated perceptions and beliefs that have a much more positive outcome and result.
A strong work ethic is often seen a badge of honour anyone, and while a strong work ethic is an incredibly positive trait, knowing when you need to stop, rest and recover is far more important.
As a community we still have not realised the impact health actually has on us all.
So your work ethic is incredible and you can push through no matter what. You have the ability to just keep going.
That’s great, but what about when your health suffers and you experience
An inability to really be effective at work due to being unfocused and lacking clarity
Relationship troubles because you’re just too tired to give any energy or focus at the start or end of the day
Fatigue after spending an enormous amount of energy dealing with your aches and pains all day instead of performing at the level you need
Moodiness and anger because you don’t have the energy or know how to deal with and control your negative thoughts and emotions all day.
In all of these scenarios, there is barely any energy left to be engaged or solutions focused at work, all you can see are problems and difficulties.
You are simply surviving each day and just getting through, instead of thriving and fully living life.
What is the point of a strong work ethic if it cannot be used to create the life you want?
Health and Men
When health challenges appear and men need to stop, they have traditionally fought the urge. Men will often ignore their symptoms and continue to push through, until…. as I often say…..their body sits them on their butt!
Our body has the ability to lay us flat when we continue to fail to listen. to what it is saying. I have experienced this myself, and while I am aware this is not gender-specific, I have found over the years that men still feel a lot of pressure to soldier on. Men are simply not as good at seeking help as quickly women.
- Is it because we have not given men the understanding of how to listen to the body?
- Is it because we live with old beliefs that suggest men still need to be tough, that vulnerability is weak?
- Is it because as roles evolve we haven’t been clear on our new expectations?
- Is it because workplaces still believe the longer and harder you work the more valuable you are?
- Is it because we still believe the outdated notion that hustle is the only way and that anything less is weak and you won’t make it?
Many men place such an emphasis on work that their work image is often confused with and combined with their self-image. While work is an important part of a balanced life, our purpose is much larger than that.
If we are fortunate enough to know and understand our purpose, and if what we do each day is our purpose, all the better, however, if not, this does not negate the need for anyone to put health first, physically, mentally, emotionally and soulfully.
In changing men’s health we need to recognise no one is less than, because they are unwell, or need to attend to health challenges. No one needs to have a lower self-image because most of their worth is tied up in what they can bring to the table.
It’s time we move on from this old way of thinking.
As the world continues to change, we need to provide more guidance than ever before. Changing men’s health and building a new narrative with regard to men is crucial in us helping men to be their best. We need to provide men, as we do anyone, with open, non-judgmental communication and a safe space to be themselves, the guidance to build much more positive beliefs, the education to learn the life skills, and the support to apply and integrate it fully into their life.
3 small tips to start changing men’s health:
1 . Give yourself permission to take a break
Working through lunch serves no one and only leaves you feeling fatigued at the end of the day, often leading to binging when you get home. Make sure you step away from the computer and give yourself time to eat and reboot. This will make a much larger impact on your afternoon productivity than anything else.
2. Get used to getting regular check-ups
Even if your health is going well, make sure you understand your basic measurements .
Blood pressure, yearly blood tests or what time frame your medical practitioner is happy to conduct, cholesterol, skin checks, knowing your waist measurements and knowing your family history are basics that will provide a good base to work from.
3. Have at least 3 alcohol free days a week
Alcohol has numerous and varied impacts on the body.
Allowing yourself a few days of being alcohol-free will help you to have a better quality sleep, think more clearly, have more energy and create more balanced emotions. Allowing your body to enjoy a few alcohol free days will also contribute greatly to losing body fat. In all, there are no down sides in regard to your health, in having a few alcohol free days a week.
It’s time now for men to Thrive!