By Lauren Berger, MSW, RSW
November is widely regarded as Men’s Health Month, and guys are psyched about checking in with their bodies to make sure everything is running smoothly. But gents, when was the last time you checked in on your emotional health? Dealing with challenging careers, relationships, and goals can leave you frowning beneath your Movember mustache. By including a little focus on your emotional health, you can better ensure that your overall wellbeing is top-notch. My top tips for guys:
1.) Recognize your emotions. Even in 2015, there still seems to be a stigma that men shouldn’t be (or just aren’t) in touch with their emotions, often leading men to ignore or check out of their emotions. If you can assess what you’re feeling, you’ll be way better equipped to deal with it. Find this challenging? Turn to your phone. Yes, you heard me, your phone can help you figure out what’s up in your mind! Scroll through your emogis and choose the face that best suits your mood in that moment. Which is it? Angry face? Cringing face? Face with little hearts for eyes? After you choose, think about why you chose it; what do you identify with? Check in with yourself like this a few times a day to help monitor your moods.
2.) Ignore anyone who tells you to “man up.” Sometimes when expressing feelings of fear, sadness, or anxiety, others may use this classic term to tell you to squash your feelings. This doesn’t work. Why? Because instead of recognizing your emotion so that you can deal with it head-on, you’re basically closing your eyes, sticking your fingers in your ears, and singing “lalalala” while hoping the problem goes away. No problem or feeling ever seems to go away by pretending it doesn’t exist in order to preserve your “manly demeanor.” Figure out what’s up in your mind and work on it, whether it’s some soul searching on your own, confiding in a friend or partner, or checking in with your counsellor. If you’re feeling it, it’s valid!
3.) Kick stress where the sun don’t shine. Man, woman, hamster, or alien; doesn’t matter, excess stress isn’t healthy or pleasant for anyone! There are so many ways to kick stress to the curb, all you have to do is figure out what works for you. Do physical methods work well for you? Join an amateur hockey league, try a martial art, take a run by the lake, or even try some deep breathing at your desk. Artistic stuff more your speed? Try writing your thoughts out in a journal (typing on a computer works too), snap a few pics of people or scenes that make you feel calm and relaxed, or get your hands dirty in the kitchen by attempting to duplicate your fave meal that Mom used to make (or the diner down the block. It’s all good.) Is communication the key for you? Express yourself to a friend over coffee or a drink, connect with others on a blog that suits your stress, or chat with a non-judgmental counsellor.
This November, don’t let your mind take a backseat to your bod. By integrating your mind and body health, you are sure to shape up your whole self!
Lauren Berger is BACK at the Integrative Health Institute on January 6, 2016! She is a Registered Social Worker providing counselling and psychotherapy. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW. Book your appointment with Lauren here.