“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.”
Your emotional and mental health influence everything in your life: your mood, your physical health, your behavior, how you sleep, your relationships, and more. When your emotional and mental health are good, you feel good, but sometimes negative feelings can linger for weeks, months, or even years – making your whole life feel less enjoyable.
If you’ve ever felt this way, you aren’t alone. Mental and emotional health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and stress can strike anyone regardless of gender, age, race, or occupation. Many experts estimate that approximately one out of every five Americans will experience at least one mental health issue during their lifetime.
In America, women are about twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with a mental health issue. But this statistic only tells part of the story. Because men do not see their doctors as often and are more reluctant to talk about their feelings than women, mental health issues are an especially serious threat to the health of men around the country. As we wrap up Men’s Health Month, our team at McGregor wanted to help you take your first step on the road to good mental health.
Common Mental & Emotional Health Issues
Three broad categories of mental and emotional health problems in men are depression, anxiety, and stress. Monitoring your mental health for signs of these issues is a continuous process. It is important for men to know the warning signs of each one, so that they can get the proper help when they need it.
Depression. Depression is a medical condition that involves feelings of sadness and hopelessness that do not go away for extended periods of time. If left untreated, depression leads to a higher risk of suicide – especially in men and older adults.
Anxiety. Anxiety is a medical condition that involves feeling nervous or on edge for extended periods of time. If left untreated, anxiety makes it hard to relax and spend time with other people, which can negatively impact physical and social wellness.
Stress. A little bit of stress can be a good thing, as it focuses your attention and gives you motivation to succeed; however, when stress doesn’t go away, it starts eating away at your immune system and increasing your risk of developing other physical or mental conditions.
It is important to remember that having any of these problems doesn’t mean you’re weak, less manly, or losing your masculinity. On the contrary, quite the opposite is true. Admitting to yourself and others that you have a problem and getting the help you need is a sign of great strength. Lifestyle changes you can take to reduce the burden of depression, anxiety, and stress in your life are also indicative of great strength.
Coping with Mental & Emotional Health Issues
If you’re suffering from ongoing depression, anxiety, or stress, the best thing you can do is contact your physician to ask for help. In addition, the following activities, adapted from Armin Brott’s Your Head: An Owner’s Manual, can help you to cope with depression, anxiety, or stress by reducing or eliminating the symptoms of these problems:
- Medical Treatment. Medical treatment options include medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of therapy and drugs. Make sure to check with your health care provider before partaking in any of these medical treatment options.
- Participating in just 20-30 minutes of exercise three or four days each week can reduce the symptoms of your mental health issues by as much as 50 percent.
- Take walks, meditate, listen to music, or just sit and read. As little as 10 to 15 minutes of downtime each day can make a big difference.
- Eat Healthy. Getting good nutrition is key to improving health and wellness in all areas of life.
- Have Some Fun. Play a game, watch a movie, or go to the park. The point is to spend time doing something that is low on stress and high on enjoyment, even if you have to force yourself.
- Inhale for five seconds, hold for one, exhale for five and then repeat. Never underestimate how much basic breathing exercises can help to calm your emotions.
- Avoid Self-Medication. Alcohol consumption, smoking, and the use of other drugs will raise, rather than lower, your stress levels. It is best to avoid these altogether if you’re struggling with mental and emotional health. Remember to take medications only if – and exactly as – they are prescribed by your doctor.
- Suffering alone won’t help you. Whether it’s with your spouse, a close friend, or another family member, having someone who’s got your back is extremely important for mental and emotional health.
- Recognize That You Are Not in Control. Don’t spend time and energy worrying about things you can’t control like the weather, other people’s habits, or your own past. Instead, spend time looking forward, thinking about what you are going to do in the future to make life more enjoyable.
- Be Patient with Yourself. Your mental and emotional health problems won’t go away overnight. All good things take time, and living a happier and healthier life is no different.
When all is said and done, it is important to recognize that mental and emotional health issues can happen to anyone. Having them does not make you less of a man, but it is vital for you to take ownership over your own health, speak up, and ask for the help you need to thrive.
Even though we have reached the conclusion of Men’s Health Month, McGregor will continue to share health and wellness resources for you and your loved ones.
Stay tuned to our blog for resources, events, and more to help you age successfully, no matter where you call home!