As you may be aware its Men’s Health Week this week (June 13th-19th). This year’s theme is STRESS, how to deal with it, how to spot it, and how to beat it. As part of Men’s Health Week we’ll be posting 5 blog posts all this week to highlight different issues, experiences, and tactics for improving Men’s Health.
Let’s face it everyone gets stressed, it’s easy to let things get on top of us and pretend that everything is fine. The world we live in is fast paced and ever changing – sometimes it can feel like everything is too much, or that we’re alone in dealing with our personal stresses. The irony of this is that, if you do feel like that, you’re not alone; in fact one if four people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year, that’s an odds of 3:1. Actually having some stress is good for you, having challenges and difficulties are what make us stronger, smarter, and better at coping with problems in the future but having too much stress can cause a lot of damage.
According to the Mens’ Health Forum (https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk) ‘about 3/4 of the people treated for depression are women but about 3/4 of the people who commit suicide are men’. Since depression is a major cause of suicide, something doesn’t add up. Statistics from the Office of National Statistics show that in 2012 ‘the male suicide rate was more than three times the rate for females’ (Suicides in the United Kingdom, 2012 Registrations) and had risen from the figures taken in 2011.What that shows is that men need to start talking about their problems and their stress.
Even if we don’t notice that we’re stressed too much stress can be responsible for:
damaging our immune system and heart.
increasing our chances of having serious health problems in the future.
Reducing our life-expectancies.
And damaging our sex lives.
Eliminating stress entirely from your life is both undesirable and impossible, what we want to do instead is build up better and more effective ways of dealing with our stress. Particularly for men it can be harder to find ways to deal with stress, many men find it difficult to acknowledge or talk about their feelings, worrying that it will make them seem weak. The best ways to prevent stress getting out of control are to find ways to tackle the causes of stress and also to improve your coping strategies.
Research continually shows us that looking after our wellbeing is one of the most important things to ensure a happy and healthy life. We’re all different and things affect us differently so the first step is to be aware of what things might be affecting you and be honest with yourself, it will help you to be honest with other people. I have always struggled to manage my stress levels, but I’ve learned that realising you need to make a change and look after yourself is really important. Make time for yourself, and if you’re feeling stressed acknowledge that feeling and do yourself a favour by actively trying to do something about it.
So what can you do?
Most effectively, you can talk to someone about it. That sounds like an obvious cliché but it really is one of the most affective ways to understand a problem and work out what to do. It’s not about someone else having all the answers but often just talking something through will allow you to process how you’re feeling and help you find what changes you can make. This can be with friends, family, or with someone totally different. All too often we think that silence is a sign of strength, but really silence is the easy way out – being honest is real strength. The LGBT Centre provides a whole range of one-on-one support services which are available to you for free so if you’re struggling and want to talk to one of our support team get in touch by giving us a call on 0121 643 0821
Even if it barely involves talking, connecting with others and feeling part of something in whatever setting feels good. Have a look a sports and fitness – even going for a walk with a friend can be a big help (doing exercise in any form is proven to make you feel more positive), meet new people through a local club, group or internet meet-up, or just go to the pub with a couple of friends to let off some steam (responsibly of course). Often the smallest effort can make the biggest difference. Be sure to check out our fitness programme ‘Activate’ which has loads of opportunities for you to get involved (http://blgbt.org/fitness/) or if you wanted something a little less active the centre is host to a large number of community groups where there’s something to suit every taste (http://blgbt.org/support-groups/). Don’t forget to keep your eyes out on our upcoming events pages for lots of great ways to get involved, meet new people, learn new skills, and just have some fun and socialise.
Adam Carver is Wellbeing Events Coordinator for Birmingham LGBT.