Coping with Stress during Men’s Health Week and beyond
Monday saw the start of the annual Men’s Health Week, which is running from 9th – 15th June, fittingly coming to a close on the day dedicated to those who need a gentle reminder about their health the most – Our father’s. The week has been held for many years and is organised by the Men’s Health Forum, an independent charity this year and will primarily be focusing on health and work, including ways to avoid stress, overworking and coping with unemployment. Men – including the majority of fathers – are rarely thought of as ‘victims’ and instead typically regarded as the main breadwinner of the household, and macho types who certainly need no molycoddling. As such, male health can be often overlooked as this apparent need to show a toughness can unfortunately mask their vulnerability and any psychological issues they may have. Remember that in this day and age, stereotypes don’t always apply and could actually be dangerous to men’s health. There are around one in eight men living with a mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, and phobia. Figures indicate men spend more of their lifetime at the workplace compared to women, and twice as more likely to be working full time. This can mean extra stress and is highly detrimental to a man’s general health and wellbeing. Statistics show that in the previous 30 years three to four times more men than women have taken their lives and there has never been a time in those three decades that suicide rates in women have been greater than that for men. In recent years, the poor financial climate in the UK has not helped matters. The fallout of a crippling recession has led to increased worry about job security, men feeling pressurised into working longer hours for fear of their jobs, a sustained fear of redundancy, and overall poorer job performance. To further highlight the growing problems, a 2011 Croner survey show that nearly half of workers (48%) stated they were more stressed than just a year previously. With all this in mind, Medical Specialists™ Pharmacy run through some great ways at managing stress to ensure a more happy home and work life. . Fresh air can make a big difference Nobody likes being cooked up indoors all day long, especially if we have been blessed with some rare good weather! Being outdoors also boosts the production of the chemical serotonin, which is important to regulate moods and sleep. Bananas are an excellent source to increase the production, so weather permitting, consider getting out of the office for a stroll outdoors each day and also get one of your 5-a-day in the process! . Be active After all, human beings are created to move about, not sit on a chair all day. Exercise can reduce the risk of major illness such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke by up to 50%, but it is also great for your spirits! Endorphins, also known as the ‘happy hormones’ are feel good neurotransmitters that are released during any type of physical activity, and help to modulate diet, create a feeling of euphoria and enhance immune response. All this will help to fight the negative effects of stress. It is also vital for people to engage in sports or physical activities they enjoy and to start off slow to reduce the risk of injury and lack of motivation. . Get more sleep Stress and sleep often go hand-in-hand and form a vicious cycle, which can spiral unless managed correctly. Stress individuals tend to have more problems with sleeping, causing exhaustion, additional stress, and then even more problems for sleep levels. However, managing stress levels can alleviate sleep levels, and vice versa. For those not wanting to rely on sleep medication to drift off, think about maximising your relaxation prior to bedtime in order to help reach the 7-9 hours sleep that most adults require each night. Try to refrain from caffeine and alcohol in the evenings if this impacts sleep, and stop any mentally demanding work several hours before retiring to bed so that your brain can switch off and calm down. Going to bed at a similar time each night may also help and get your body used to a set routine of when to sleep and awake. . Learn to manage your time Those with a number of goals within a ‘to do list’ are best realising that these cannot be done all at once. By accepting doing everything simultaneously is impossible, tasks can be prioritised and even delegated onto others where possible. Write down what needs to be done and when it needs doing. For instance, what needs to be completed this week, this month, or by the end of the year? Make a list of everything in order of priority and tasks can then be broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks to be completed over a longer time-frame, resulting in less stress. . Talk to someone Connecting with others going through similar experiences can be a huge weight off the shoulders and it can be a stress reliever to just be aware there are many others in the same boat. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved. Building a good support network of friends and family can be hugely beneficial and provide a buffer from the negative impact of stress. There are also plenty of online forums dedicated to just about every issue there is and this provides further opportunity to talk to others dealing with stress and learn about how they deal with it. Medical Specialists™ Pharmacy hope these stress-busting tips help. However, visit the Men’s Health Forum website for more information regarding Men’s Health Week, including how to get involved, and excellent FAQs about stress, depression and health at work.