Traditionally, we men are awful at talking about our overall emotional well-being, and feelings in general. We’re “good,” we generally reply when asked. We’re “fine.” Even though, according to the latest available numbers, men die by suicide 3.63 times more often than women. 70% of all suicides are men.
Sound scary? It shouldn’t. Because we, as guys, can do something about this.
We’ve got to fix the way so many of us keep ignoring our mental health. And what man doesn’t enjoy fixing something? Plus, you get the satisfaction of doing it on your own! Sign me up, dude…but how?
By paying a little more attention to what’s going on in your brain.
You CAN take more control of your mental health, and what you’re feeling. You can also encourage this with your other male friends. Here are SIX ways to start being healthier about your mental health. I’ll get right to the point with solid tips, and won’t waste your time. I hate having my time wasted, I don’t intend to do it to you.
We need to stop telling men (including ourselves) to MAN up – instead, we need to OPEN up. We’re wired as men to put on a strong face and carry it all on our own. We need to start talking more openly about our feelings – and when we do open up, we need to do so without apology. We can often be so closed minded and stubborn that we bottle up our emotions and leave them inside, and let me tell you – keeping our emotions inside is part of what’s killing us. (See the statistic I dropped on your earlier.) Open up to your friends and loved ones, and when they open up to you – listen to them without judging.
We all beat ourselves up sometimes over the would’ve / should’ve / could’ve in our pasts. We worry about the things that MIGHT happen if we do or don’t do something. Dude, these are all things that we cannot control. Worry about the things you CAN control. Your diet. Your routine. Your daily schedule. SET BOUNDARIES. This will help you keep your life in control, instead of always feeling like you’re spinning out of control.
Exercise is a HUGE mood booster. Endorphins are no joke. You don’t have to hit the gym and throw around a bunch of weight, or run a half marathon, unless that’s your thing. You can just take a walk. Or go for a brief jog, beat up a punching bag, swim a couple laps in the pool, hit the links for a round of golf, or simply get some work done in the yard. The point is to move your body. Getting active will keep your body, and your mind, in a positive place.
We’re so busy all the time: phone calls, texts, DM’s, emails, family, Zooms, meetings – it’s overwhelming. Carve out some time for YOU every day. Even if you do it in small increments – five minutes at a time. Take a moment or two every day to center yourself. Take some deep breaths. Realize that you can’t do it all in a day sometimes, and that’s okay. You don’t have to always be hustling to be successful in life.
When was the last time you took inventory of the small wins in your life? Regardless of what you may be going through at any specific moment, chances are you’ve got some good things going on, too. If you take a moment to focus on and be thankful for them, and maybe even make a small gratitude list in your notes app, chances are you’ll realize you have more going for you than you realized. Celebrating and embracing the little things in life will add up to big wins.
As guys, many of us have been conditioned to believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness. This is why men are known for never stopping to ask for directions, or not reading the instructions when we put together the IKEA bunkbed unless we ABSOLUTELY need to, because we don’t want to be perceived as weak. Here’s the thing, my friend. Asking for help is a HUGE sign of strength. Even the most seasoned, elite athletes have strength and conditioning coaches helping them out. Those guys aren’t afraid to ask for help, and neither should you. It’s 2021, my dude. Most people think therapy is cool these days.
Hopefully you were able to pull a few tips from this – it’s not rocket science, and it’s not an IKEA bunkbed, it’s how you feel. Just be a little more conscious about it, and stop being afraid to talk it out with people in your life. Remember, there are plenty of resources, especially here at AFSP, that you can use to keep your mental health in check. No one has to do it alone. We got this.