In various cultures around the world, boys are taught from a young age that showing emotions, asking for help, and being empathetic, makes them “weak”. The gender stereotypes of an “ideal man” mostly focus on being dominant, competitive, breadwinning, athletic, and emotionless. These cultural and societal expectations that men are taught to live up to throughout their lives lead to psychological coping strategies that are often harmful. This can ultimately develop into serious mental health issues as men get older.
When we suppress our emotions, our minds and bodies take a toll. According to a study done by the University of Texas, suppressing our emotions actually amplifies them. This can lead to mental health illnesses such as anxiety and depression. Our bodies become stressed, leading to high blood pressure, and increasing the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, when we don’t allow ourselves to take breaks from work, we may experience burnout. When our mental health suffers, so does the quality of our work.
Learning how to deal with our emotions is beneficial for our overall wellbeing. Although it may be challenging, there are a variety of healthy and adaptable alternatives to help cope with negative emotions.
Men’s Mental Health Statistics:
- Suicide is among the top 3 causes of death among men between the ages of 15 and 44
- The suicide mortality rate of men is near 4x the rate of women
- Men who strongly identified as ‘self-reliant’ had 34% greater odds of reporting thoughts of suicide
- Alcohol has the greatest impact on men’s mental health across all substance use.
- 68,000 men die each year from alcohol-related deaths
- Men are 2-3 times more likely than women to have a serious alcohol problem.
- 30.6 Percent of men experience depression in their lifetime
Use of mental health resources:
- As a result of virtual healthcare, men sought mental health care at a 79% increase since January 2020.
- Mental health disproportionately affects lower income, the less educated, and minority groups at higher rates than their counterparts.
How men cope with psychological stress:
- Misuse of alcohol and drugs to numb distress
- Concealing and ignoring negative emotions
- Engaging in risky behaviors
- Valuing self-reliance and autonomy over professional care
Tips for managing negative emotions:
- Write your thoughts and feelings down: Reflecting on what we’re thinking about why we’re feeling the way we do helps us make sense of them and improves the likelihood of finding solutions to our problems.
- Communicate: Having someone trustworthy and supportive to confide in about our thoughts and feelings reduces the intensity of our emotions. Effectively communicating how we feel and why is a good skill to improve relationships. Communicating clears up any misunderstandings that we may have with others.
- Identify activities you enjoy: Partaking in activities that help us release suppressed emotional energy is a healthy way to reduce stress caused by difficult situations. Putting our thoughts and energy into something we enjoy is a form of self-care. Self-care is something that we all need to do from time to time because it prevents stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Pay attention to how certain situations make you act and feel: Being aware of how certain situations make us feel helps us identify emotional triggers. Understanding why these situations make us feel and act in certain ways is beneficial for learning how to cope and what to do about it next time it happens.
Give Yourself a Break:
Taking the time to take care of ourselves and taking a break is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Indulging in what we love to do enhances our health, mood, and wellbeing. If we don’t take care of ourselves, who will?
- Get some rest: Catching up on some much needed sleep helps our bodies and minds recover, making our days easier to navigate.
- Spend time with loved ones: Spending time with our loved ones improves our overall mood, creating joyful memories to look back to during difficult situations.
- Reorganize your living space: Our environments directly impact our wellbeing and mood. Coming home to a clean and organized living space creates a sense of calmness and relaxation.
- Spend time outside: Spending time outdoors reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. Nature promotes clarity, focus, and calmness to help clear our minds.
Breaking the stigma of Men’s Mental Health
Becoming self-aware, acknowledging our emotions, and learning how to deal with difficult situations in healthy ways can be a game changer for us and for our loved ones. We shouldn’t judge ourselves for what we feel or what we think. Being open with our emotions is a strength that comes with patience and some guidance.
Acknowledging that we may need some professional guidance from a mental health professional may not be the easiest thing to do. Taking the time to foster a supportive relationship with a mental health professional is beneficial for becoming a healthier, happier, and more peaceful person.
Therapy helps us develop coping skills, teaches us how to let go of negativity, and deal with certain situations in a positive way, allowing us to start living the fulfilling life we’ve always wanted.
If you or your loved one is in need of guidance, contact Clear Recovery Center today to learn how we can help.