How to look after your mind with these 5 simple tools
Even though people are actively choosing to prioritise their wellbeing, it’s sadly not improving, and men in particular are struggling with the ‘wellbeing dilemma’
The search for optimum holistic health, however, is triggering a ‘wellbeing dilemma’.
Hitting our internal ‘goals’ can feel like yet another target to hit, causing increased anxiety that people are letting themselves or others down; and men, in particular, are feeling the burden of societal expectations.
More than half of those identifying as men in the UK feel that society has made it more difficult for them to speak out about their emotions.
Meanwhile, 56% of UK Gen Z and Millennial men wish that they could express how they actually feel rather than always having to be ‘fine’.
All this contributes to the worrying stat that suicide is the leading cause of death in British men under the age of 50.
So, this Men’s Health Awareness month, Vitality Magazine is breaking down five methods that men can use to support their mental health today.
Life can be stressful and can take its toll on our mental health, but by managing the hours in our day, we can enhance our wellbeing and create a sense of life satisfaction.
Paying attention to our mind provides time to reflect on our thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
“This increases self-awareness, allowing us to identify things we would like to improve on and take those proactive steps to address them,” says Yetunde Bankole, Vitality’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Coach.
“Our mental health impacts on our concentration, creativity and productivity, so by investing time in our mental health we can boost our work and personal development,” she adds.
Why not try evaluating what a ‘normal’ day is for you to ensure your priorities are aligned with your actions.
Setting aside time to be active also “leads to a more positive and stable mood,” says Yetunde.
Vitality data shows a 17% reduction in future mental health risk for members who were active at least two days a week (1).
Connect with others
Men are found to be less likely to talk about their emotions, which can result in many feeling isolated and lonely.
As humans, we are social animals and want to feel support, valued and connected.
Referred to as the ‘silent epidemic’, loneliness can affect our bodies in ways we may not recognise. It has been associated with a higher risk of blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and weakened immune system.
Confiding in a loved one or friend is a really important first step. Finding communities of people can also encourage conversations around wellbeing in general – this could be at your local parkrun or a nearby football team – perhaps a walking game if that’s more you.
And the results are plain to see. Around one in two people who talk about emotions, not just positive ones, found to have higher mental wellbeing, according to Lululemon’s findings.
As a Vitality member, you can earn Activity points for walking or running at a parkrun event.
parkrun is a great way to try out running for the first time or getting involved with a new activity; it’s free and there are hundreds of locations to choose from. And, if running isn’t for you, you can also get involved by volunteering to help out at the events, or even ‘parkwalk’ it.
Strengthen your funny bone
If we begin to feel that our world has been turned upside down, it’s normal to feel a lack of joy. Around 7 in 10 struggle to bring the best out of themselves when their wellbeing is low.
If your to-do list is ever-growing in the lead up to the festive season, there’s one more you shouldn’t miss out.
It’s time to pencil in some fun. The chances are you simply deserve it and it’s important that this is time spent doing exactly what it is you want to do.
Why not try doing that sport you’ve always wanted to give a go? Or do something you loved as a kid? Share it with your family and friends, or simply go solo. In doing so, positive emotions boost mental wellbeing.
Try to stay positive
The negative news agenda has felt unwavering of late. Between the cost-of-living crisis, the situation in Israel and Gaza, and the war in Ukraine, it can feel like a tirade of pessimism.
Yetunde says that we should try to focus on the positives, however.
“Our brains have the tendency to focus on the negative, so staying positive will be a conscious effort,” she notes.
And while it might feel like an uphill climb at the moment, trying to stay positive is known to improve our health.
That’s not to say that we have to be sun and roses all of the time. It’s ok to feel down and upset, in fact, it’s important not to ignore these feelings of negativity sometimes.
“Acknowledge these emotions without passing judgement on yourself for having them,” says Yetunde.
“Understanding that failure provides the lessons needed to do things differently, try again and get you one step closer to the goal.”
Here are three ways to stay positive:
Practice gratitude – spend at least a couple of minutes identifying and expressing gratitude for the positive aspects of your life.
Surround yourself with positivity – notice your interactions and daily actions to see how they make you feel, so you can limit the negative influences.
Practice mindfulness and meditation – this can help you let go of negative thoughts, stay present and reduce stress.
Seek professional help
If you find that the problems you are facing are taking a hold of your life, reach out for support from a mental health professional.
For some, the thought of getting help to this degree can be troubling but know that you are not alone.
One in eight men have a common mental health problem, anxiety, stress or depression; a mental health professional can help to relieve some of these feelings.
“They listen and work with you to identify ways and approaches you can apply to address certain needs,” explains Yetunde.
Speaking to Vitality Magazine in May this year, Vitality member David said that he was “forever grateful” for the counselling sessions he received through his health insurance.
“I just didn’t realise how much I needed it. I’m very grateful for having that time, without a doubt.”
Read more about David’s story below:
What’s important to note is that professional support can meet your personal preference, be accessible, meaningful and engaging. So, it’s key to find what works for you and be patient with it.
Vitality data shows 99% of our members who go through Talking Therapies treatment do not require further treatment within a three-month period (2).
 Vitality Health Claims and Insights Report, 2023
 Vitality Health Claims and Insights Report, 2023
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