It’s that time of the year! International Men’s Day is here. This day is a celebration of all that men bring to the table. This is the day to acknowledge that gender stereotypes hurt both men and women, and we can overcome them together! It’s time for you as a man to express your feelings, share your emotions and reach out when you need help because there’s nothing wrong with having bad days.
Men are taught to be unconditionally strong by society. They are expected to hold their feelings back and storm ahead of obstacles without budging. After all, boys don’t cry, right? Wrong! The stigma around men’s mental health needs to be broken down. It’s hurting all of us.
The gender conditioning that tells men to not talk about their feelings is dangerous and it has a very real impact on their mental and physical health. Since, as a man, you’re taught to suffer in silence, it can result in unhealthy methods of coping such as addiction, anxiety, and depression. Men are at a higher risk of suicide. If those are not pressing mental health concerns, we don’t know what are.
The picture isn’t all grim though. We are seeing more and more men coming out to share their struggles today. The conversation about men’s mental health is open and teeming with vibrant voices like those of Virat Kohli and Shah Rukh Khan.
It’s more important than ever to talk about mental health because the worldwide recession and layoffs aren’t doing our emotional wellbeing any favours. We were just reeling from the effects of COVID-19, and now there’s a startling rise in layoffs and the world is gripped by a recession. Men often face the brunt of these issues because of societal pressure. But you can do a lot to take care of yourself and your loved ones in these uncertain times.
Talk to Your Loved Ones: Bottling up your emotions is bad for you and the people around you. Each one of us knows many men who would rather suffer than talk their hearts out. This societal pressure on men to be strong keeps them from embracing vulnerability. It might sound counter-intuitive, but there’s strength in admitting that you feel vulnerable. Often, talking to someone you love and care about is all you need to feel a bit better.
Take Care of Your Health: Simple things like drinking enough water and having timely meals can make a huge difference to your energy levels. Fun Fact: The brain only weighs up to 2% of your body weight, but it makes up for about 20% of your body’s energy consumption. It makes sense to keep it hydrated and nourished, no?
Get a Hobby: In a rush to grow up, we forget the things we enjoyed doing as children. Maybe you loved playing cricket, trekking or writing poetry, but finding the time to get back to your hobbies feels like a challenge now. Take that challenge up and make some time! You can set time apart from your weekly schedule which is exclusively for things you enjoy doing. Hobbies can act as your safe place to quiet the noise in your mind.
Exercise: The increase in blood flow from exercising is really good for your brain. Blood carries nutrients to your brain and the surge in blood flow transports more oxygen to the brain. Exercise leads to an immediate spike in serotonin and norepinephrine and they can help you with stress reduction and memory consolidation. Exercise is proven to improve your mental, physical and social health.
Go to a Therapist: There’s no shame in admitting that you’re struggling with mental health concerns. In fact, it’s an act of courage to seek out help in a society that stigmatises it. Therapy can do wonders for how you see yourself and interact with the world. It can help you improve your self-talk and eventually enhance your self-esteem. Your therapists can guide you to navigate difficult situations in life with aplomb. Do yourself a huge favour and don’t hesitate to seek therapy in times of need.
This International Men’s Day, let’s break the stigma around men’s mental health. Let’s be shame-free, stress-free, and stigma-free!