You are constantly working or thinking about the next big thing. The thing that will bring financial freedom; the big win. After all, society believes you should be the one to bring in the goods. That it is your role as a man, isn’t it?
But what about that lingering feeling you can’t shake?
You know, the one that makes you clench your jaw and grind your teeth. The one that keeps you up all night. Thoughts racing around in your mind. The thing that you don’t quite have the words to explain.
And symptoms like:
- Stomach pain
- Tightness in the chest or throat
- Reduced sex drive
- Estranged relationships
- Sleepless nights
- Stiff muscles
These may be all be symptoms of stress. Your body’s way of responding to high demands, or threat.
There are inconsistencies in schools of thought about whether stress is a cause or a consequence of our problems. But we know is that stress is an indicator that we are under pressure. An indicator that our bodies have decided we are unable to cope using the internal resources we have.
Unfortunately, stress can trigger us to think “we need to work harder”. This can bring on more stress. And, if continued over long periods, can lead to physical and mental problems.
Stress doesn’t only occur at work.
Your home/family life workload can cause stress too.
- Worries about your partner’s expectations of you
- Worries about your children or other family members
- How much financial support you can provide
- Or even general worries about the potential of losing everything you have worked so hard for
All of these things can result in feelings of stress. And when stress piles up, problems can arise.
Let’s take a look at some more signs and symptoms
- Skin problems like acne
- Infections or colds
- Gaining or losing weight
- Not wanting to be around others
- Shortness of breath
- Yearning for drugs or alcohol
- Pounding Heart
- Moodiness or Irritability
There are so many indicators of stress. Things that we wouldn’t even consider being linked to it.
So, it makes sense that we keep on top of our stress levels. But how?
Here are a few tips:
- Be honest with yourself. If you have identified yourself as having any of the signs or symptoms of stress, be honest with yourself. It is okay if you don’t want to tell anyone. Instead, take some time out to look at what is causing you stress and see if you can make changes.
- Conduct a stress audit. Have a look at the things that are causing you stress. Are all of these things necessary in your life? Can you eliminate or change any of them to reduce the pressure you feel?
- Pay attention to how it’s affecting you. As you may have noticed. Stress can have emotional and physical consequences. You may need to seek help from your doctor to manage some of the side effects. Such as skin problems, infections and colds, or tightness in the chest or throat.
- Get support from peers. This could be through talking to friends or colleagues. You might even want to look up local peer support groups for men. Many of which can be attended virtually.
- Make time to get your body moving. Stress builds up as tension in the body. Moving your body can help release stress.
- Try to get enough sleep. The body restores itself while sleeping. Stress can affect the body’s ability to restore itself by making it work overtime. Try and get quality rest whenever you can.
- Try and find a balance. There is nothing wrong with working towards “the next big win”, “financial freedom”, or “being the breadwinner” for your family. It is, however, important to try and balance these things with your health. Finding a balance between your stressors and your physical and mental health is a key part of being able to achieve the things you want to.
Remember that if you’re feeling stressed, you are not alone. And that getting help is a sign of strength. Talking to your GP is a step many people take to better understand their stress and get some help to manage it. Talking to friends and family, if you feel able to, is also a good place to start. It can be surprising how ready many people are to offer support – after all most of us have experienced stress.
If you are in crisis or feel at risk of harming yourself or somebody else, you can also call 999 or go to your local A&E where you will be supported and kept safe. The Samaritans is also a 24 hour crisis service that you can contact on 116123.
By Aisha Gordon-Hiles