Professor Ewan Gillon, chartered psychologist and clinical director of First Psychology Aberdeen discusses stress in men for Stress Awareness Month.
Stress is part of us in that it dictates our ‘fight or flight’ response, enabling us to stand up for ourselves or hide from danger. Hormones including cortisol and adrenaline surge around the body when our brains tell us that action is needed and it is something we all face at some point in our lives.
However, did you know men and women tend to have different reactions to stress? Not only are men less likely to report their symptoms, but they are also less likely to use stress management strategies as effectively as women.
And, when stress is ignored it can develop into anxiety and depression.
Here, we discuss some of the most common stressors for men and tips to deal with them:
You’ve got bills to pay, a budget to stick to, and perhaps you’re also trying to manage debt.
Financial issues can all contribute to high levels of stress in men, mainly due to not feeling in control or perhaps not feeling as successful as you think you need to be.
Instead of trying to push your worries to the back of your mind, face your finances head on and create a plan.
Stress often encourages us to ‘avoid’ our problems, and men are well-known for burying things that worry them.
So, whether it’s putting some money aside each week for a rainy day, or working out how long you’ve got to go until you’re debt-free, having a plan and a structure in place will help you feel as though you have regained control, reducing your stress.
Depending on your line of work you might experience a degree of stress on a daily basis, or you might find you suffer from increased stress levels at certain times, for example when a deadline is looming or an important presentation is due.
You might find that your energy levels are suffering and your sleep is disturbed. If this is the case, step away from the coffee and get out of the office for some fresh air.
Ensure you have at least 10 minutes away from your desk every couple of hours and take a proper lunch break in order to help re-focus your mind.
This will help increase not only your energy levels, but your productivity too.
Practicing mindfulness and or doing some exercise can also help you keep a clear mind as well as encouraging rational judgement which can help you make better decisions.
Men are often socialised into never asking for help or admitting difficulty, which makes it harder for them to fully embrace the benefits of a supportive relationship.
However, supportive relationships have been known to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Use your support system and find someone you can talk to. Whether it’s a partner, family member, close friend or colleague, speaking to someone about your feelings instead of struggling on your own can be a huge relief.
Do you have a fast-paced lifestyle? Do you feel as though you don’t have much time for yourself and never get enough sleep?
Not only does stress have a negative effect on our physical health, but worrying about our physical well-being can further contribute to stress levels.
This results in a vicious stress cycle that can be difficult to escape from. Making small changes to your day such as exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet can help reduce stress.
Not only does exercise release feel-good endorphins in the brain, but it also provides you with a chance to socialise with others, as well as losing weight and feeling better about yourself.
By improving your diet and reducing sugary snacks and fatty foods, you may find your energy levels throughout the day have improved and you’re getting a better night’s sleep, which can contribute to a boost in your overall mental health.