There is a lot of talk about men’s mental health and burnout lately in today’s media. You see it in the news and sometimes on your friends’ Facebook feed. Nowadays, more men are opening up and using public forums to discuss their real struggles and vulnerabilities.
Even though you know your mental health is important, it’s easy to overlook self-care when you’re busy. This becomes a tricky problem because there’s always something to do and somewhere to go. However, if you don’t make time and space to tend to your mental health, this can turn into a much bigger problem. When you have little time to think or feel, it’s not possible to gain self-awareness. What’s risky is when you can’t see the red flags that send your mental health down a slippery slope.
In this blog, I am inviting you to take a moment to pause and check-in with yourself. To give yourself permission to be honest with your feelings and how you’re coping – both at work and in life.
A Global Focus on Men’s Mental Health
This month, November, has a number of male-focused health campaigns that bring both physical and mental health to the forefront, including Movember (during the entire month), International Men’s Day (19th November 2019) and International Survivor of Suicide Loss Day (23rd November 2019) which is sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. All these events mark men’s contributions in society and the reality that men can also be affected by mental health issues and be at risk of suicide.
More Men are Facing Burnout at Work
Men work in all kinds of demanding jobs that may involve physical labour, a level of risk to their health and safety, and high-stress. For example, men tend to work as first responders such as fire fighters or police officers.
Society attaches its own pressures and prejudices to these roles. Such pressure may come externally from family members and colleagues, or they may be self-imposed.
The ‘traditional’ family dynamic is in a period of rapid evolution and change. This always leaves gaps and grey areas, for example, new fathers not having sufficient paternity leave whilst potentially being the main family provider.
It’s no wonder that men are facing so much burnout.
Are you facing any of these challenges?
Men’s Mental Health Matters
For lots of reasons, whether you believe it’s a nature vs. nurture thing, many men have difficulty expressing their emotions. They often bottle things up or find it more difficult to share openly about their problems for fear of being seen as being ‘less of a man’.
As a society, it can feel so shocking to learn about our fathers, brothers, uncles, friends and colleagues who we would never suspect to have difficulties with mental health because they seemed so strong. Trying to maintain a public profile of calm and control under pressure is hard work on its own. We need to learn the skills to cope with the pressures of our busy modern lives. But equally, it’s important to recognise that it’s okay not to be okay. Pretending everything is fine and under control when things are not can be more detrimental to your mental health.
5 Simple Ways to Switch Off from Work
It’s important to find a work-life balance that works for you. Here are a few simple ways to become more aware of your mental health needs and more proactive in your self-care routines.
1. Think of Yourself First
Yes, this is a mindset thing. You may have a lot of responsibilities in your daily life. However, it’s important that you don’t lose yourself in all of this. Ask yourself, “How am I neglecting my needs?” and “Why am I tending to others before tending to myself?”
2. Take a Break
This may sound simple, but it’s true. (By the way, eating your sandwich at your desk whilst writing your e-mails is not really a break.) Taking several short breaks is better than taking none. Try the Pomodoro Technique. This tomato ticker times your work and rest breaks at particular intervals so you work more effectively. It teaches you that it’s necessary to give yourself a break between tasks.
3. Set Some Ground Rules
Good boundaries stop you from overworking and overstretching. This may be especially important if you’re self-employed or work remotely at home. Consider using different spaces for different tasks. Establish daily routines that include self-care practices and ways to de-stress. Take a look at Headspace, a mindfulness app that helps you check in with your stress levels and become more present in life.
4. Do Something Physical
If physical to you is literally running from home to the tube station, then that’s not the kind of physical I mean. You can let go of unnecessary thoughts and work the physical tension out by taking yourself to a different space and moving your body. Move freely by walking or dancing, or move with purpose through other forms of exercise (e.g. running, cycling or yoga).
5. Do Something Fun
Not just going to the pub on a Friday night. Plan something special that truly interests you. What would you consider to be a treat? Think of something different from your everyday week that you can look forward to and actually consider as a reward.
Stress and Burnout Counselling for Men
There’s no health without mental health.
If you don’t take care of your health, you won’t be able to do what you love and be there for others. Essentially, you put yourself and your loved ones at risk. It can sometimes feel like a Catch 22 when the reason you may be working so hard in the first place is to support yourself and your loved ones.
I help men, like you, work through these very normal, conflicting thoughts and feelings. We can look at all the things you have to juggle, why you feel you need to keep everything going perfectly, and how you can take some of the pressure off yourself without feeling guilty. It’s possible to let go of stress and prevent burnout when you take care of your mental health.
Earlier this month, I wrote a blog on men and the stigma attached to seeking therapy. The face of counselling is changing and is becoming more widely accepted. With the help of therapy, you can feel empowered to feel strong again if you open your mind and heart to look at what’s really going on inside.
If you are ready to talk and are looking for mental health support, I can help.
Get started with a free 20 minute phone consultation. Let’s chat.
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This blog is meant to be educational and should not be a substitute for therapy.
If you would like to enquire about therapy, please contact me or book an appointment: https://ytherapy.com/book-an-appointment/