The world is fast-paced, and technology has ensured that we never get to truly disconnect, adding to our constant, daily stress. You might find that you’re always on your phone and texting when you shouldn’t, including when you’re behind the wheel, so that you can keep up at work.
Along with work stress and the need to always be on, stress can stem from relationships such as marriages, raising children, and trying to pack as many things as possible into any given day.
Many of us are also up against rising costs of living that exacerbate stress even further.
While stress certainly isn’t exclusive to men, men do tend to handle stress differently.
For example, according to the American Psychological Association, men aren’t as likely to report their emotional and physical stress symptoms. Women are more likely to manage their stress better than men and less likely to experience major depression because of work-related stress.
Men tend to become social withdrawn when faced with high stress levels, and when it’s not dealt with in a healthy way, it can cause serious health problems for men. These can include chronic pain and gastrointestinal problems, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and it ups the risk of developing prostate cancer.
For men feeling the effects of stress, the following are some healthy, effective ways to work toward better managing it.
Understand What’s Causing Your Stress
Often we might know we’re stressed, but there’s so much “noise” in our lives that we’re not really sure what the root causes are. Take the time to really understand what’s causing you the most stress so that you can work on specific strategies to reduce it.
For example, maybe it’s a problem you’re having with a coworker, and if that’s the case, you can work to find a remedy, whether that’s talking the issue out, or finding ways to spend less time with the person.
There are going to be some things that stress you out that you can’t change, but also some that you can change if you’re able to identify what they are.
If your stress is the result of overscheduling, that one can be somewhat easy to fix, as long as you’re willing to prioritize and then work on saying no more often.
Setting boundaries is generally important for stress management. If you’re often bringing work home with you, that’s another likely source of stress that you can work to alleviate.
The importance of exercise can’t be overstated when discussing stress management. Exercise is undoubtedly one of the best things you can do for not just your physical but also your mental stress.
If you aren’t in a regular exercise routine right now, it may take some time to figure out what you like and works for you, but if you’re doing things you enjoy, you’re more likely to stick with it and do it regularly.
Maybe you split your workouts between cardio and weights, or perhaps you find that running paired with yoga works best for you.
Whatever it is, exercise can help lower your body’s natural stress hormones including cortisol. It can also have a positive effect on your quality of sleep and help you feel more confident overall.
More than 50% of people in the country live in urban areas, and by 2050, that could be as high as 70%. When you live in an urban area, you may be more likely to experience stress and certain mental illnesses.
Make time to get outdoors and enjoy nature whenever you can. Whether it’s a park, or perhaps somewhere you drive on the weekends, being outside is essential for dealing with stress and mental health.
If you can push yourself to take a walk through a natural environment at least once a week, it may help you reduce your repetitive negative thoughts, according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
Take a Vacation
Vacations are all-too-often considered a luxury in American culture, but they’re an important part of a healthy, balanced life. Even if you don’t go far from home, vacations can help reduce stress, improve your health, and also boost your productivity.
If you go away with your spouse or partner, it may even help your romantic relationship, and having a healthy relationship can lower your stress levels.
Play Video Games
It may sound funny, but for men, sometimes playing video games is actually a very effective way to deal with stress.
A study conducted at the University College London found that video games can work to alleviate stress in men.
When you’re experiencing stress and anxiety, it’s easy to get stuck inside your own head. That then leads to even more stress and it becomes very cyclical.
If you’re not ready to willing to open up to another person about your negative and anxiety-creating thoughts, bring yourself out of your own head by writing them down.
When you write what you’re thinking about, it helps you view the situation from an outsider’s perspective.
You can split a piece of paper in two, and write out the negative things you’re thinking about in one column, and the right column can include the alternatives that you could utilize instead.
A study published in the journal Anxiety, Stress, and Coping found that students who did expressive writing tasks experienced less stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms after two months compared to students who didn’t write.
Finally, work on ways to control your body when you feel stressed and it may help you control your mind.
For example, if you regularly feel like you’re in fight-or-flight mode and everything is heightened, breath control can calm your body which can, in turn, calm your mind.
Take deep, slow breaths from your diaphragm. The idea here is that along with calming some of your physical responses to stress when you’re in control of your breath, you can start to feel more in control of other things.
Close your eyes, breathe deeply and count to one, and then exhale while you think about the word relax. Continue until you get to 10.