5 ways to support the men in your life with their mental health
For Men’s Health month, we are encouraging you to support the men in your life with their mental health. Here are some simple ways to make a big difference
Over half (58%) of men think that society expects them to be emotionally strong and not show weakness.
That’s why this Men’s Health month, Vitality is looking at ways that you can support the men in your life with their mental wellbeing, and how you can encourage them to make positive changes for their health.
Encourage a good work-life balance
As many as 70% of British employers are offering hybrid working, so it can be easy to fall into the trap of pulling long nights behind your at-home desk.
But to encourage a healthy work-life balance, boundaries need to be set. There needs to be a differentiation between home time and working hours.
It won’t always be perfect and longer hours can’t always be avoided, but ensuring a healthy balance of home life is essential for looking after wellbeing.
Encouraging your loved one to log off and shut down at the end of the day can remind them that there’s always tomorrow.
Support unconditional self-acceptance
The biggest blocker to good mental health can be how hard we are on ourselves. We shouldn’t let our strive for perfection get in the way of the good.
The internal critic can be very strong with men and is influenced by upbringing and life experiences. If something goes wrong, sometimes men feel like a failure. The danger is they might merge who they are with what they do.
And so, it can be incredibly hard to watch someone struggle with their mental health, particularly if it’s someone we love.
One way to encourage a person who is close to you to have more compassion for themselves is to ensure that their feelings are validated.
This might involve making your partner or family member feel seen, heard and loved regardless. “Validation lets them know there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with them or their experience,” explains couples therapist Alicia Muñoz.
Here are some sentence suggestions to help encourage validation:
- “What you are saying and feeling are completely understandable”
- “I can see your struggle and how much effort you are giving”
It’s also worth noting that the ability to understand that we are unique and special and not the same as everyone else is all part of self-acceptance.
Find a new hobby to try out
Research has shown that getting creative can reduce anxiety and stress and help to lift our mood.
And you don’t have to go down to your local craft store to get creative. When we say ‘creative’ we mean just mixing things up in a different way.
This could be something as simple as a walk around a new park to awaken the senses.
Exercise is also a proven way to better our mental health, but it can be difficult to get started.
A good way to help kick-start someone’s new hobby is joining in with them. You could plan to accompany someone on a long walk that they haven’t explored before or visited for a long time.
A project, such as gardening, is also a great way to improve mental wellbeing and get exercise in, as it gets us outdoors and gives us a sense of purpose. If they are up to it, attending a gym class together is a great way to build confidence, and it can be as high or low impact as you like.
Or if going outside isn’t an option, a film night and having dinner together (simply spending more time together) may help them feel more comfortable and willing to talk about how they are feeling.
The important thing is to show that you are there. “You don’t need special training to show someone that you care about them,” writes Mind.
“Often just being there for someone and doing small things can be really valuable.”
As a Vitality member, you could get a discounted membership at Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing Centres, Virgin Active Gyms or PureGyms.
Advocate for healthy habits
What we eat, how we sleep and how much we exercise can have a huge bearing on our mental health.
Reducing coffee intake and time on digital devices in the evening is one way to improve our mental health.
Thirty minutes of brisk exercise each day [a minimum of three days a week] is also proven to reduce anxiety and depression, and improves memory and neurogenesis.
This all has an impact on the way we sleep and overall wellbeing, which can help us to better cope with stress on a day-to-day basis.
Support them in getting help
It’s widely accepted that during difficult times, men are more likely to go in on themselves than ask for help.
Warning signs that a man in your life might be struggling with anxiety, stress or other frustrations include excessive alcohol drinking, eating too much, problems sleeping and being bad-tempered.
But it can be difficult to start the conversation with someone that you think might need help.
And so, we’ve listed some pointers from mental health charity Mind that can help, not just conversation going, but help them seek out support.
- Look for information that might be helpful
- Help to write down a list of questions that the person you’re supporting wants to ask their doctor
- Help keep a safe place for their paperwork, prescriptions and records
- Go to appointments with them if they want you to
- Ask if you can help with any practical tasks
- Learn more about the problem they are experiencing
It’s important not to let it get to the stage where there is no way out. Talking things with a professional will help relieve anxiety and emotional distress.
Charities, such as Samaritans, are also available 24/7, 365 days a year. This can be a good option if you think someone is struggling but don’t know how to reach out to someone. Or if they find it difficult to talk to someone at home.
Vitality health insurance offers members up to eight online or face-to-face Talking Therapy sessions each year, including counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
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