So, you are the man of the house! You think you are invincible, or at least that you are expected to be.
As Mr. Invincible, you must support the family financially as the provider, physically as the protector and emotionally as a counsellor. You work hard, earn the right to play hard and never show any signs of weakness.
Whatever you do, you would never let on that you could lose your job, that money is tight, that you aren’t sleeping, your blood pressure is through the roof, that you have headaches or that your eye is twitching all day!
If this doesn’t sound like you or your husband, father or son, then congratulations it is likely that you have a balance in your lives that promotes physical and emotional wellbeing.
You place a priority on eating well, exercising regularly, relaxing often, meditating daily, minimizing stress, expressing your emotions, communicating with your partner and contributing to society. The challenge for society is that as a man being in balance means you are in the minority.
However, if you are living your life anything like ‘Mr Invincible’ is, then it is your health and wellbeing that is the likely scapegoat.
We men are our own worst enemy. We incessantly try to create the perception that we are strong, healthy and in control, even if we are not.
We often cover up the early signs of both physical and mental illness, because we perceive it to be a weakness of character and a flaw to be frowned upon.
Unfortunately our society’s medical model is also often supportive of this attitude, regularly focussing on hiding the symptom of such issues, rather than treating the cause.
Perhaps this is why there is a multi-million dollar industry built around drugs designed to help us get to sleep at night.
It is also difficult to change an inherent attitude that has been developed since an early age. I am confident that I can categorise both my father, and his father in the above descriptions. So what chance did I have?
‘Mr Invincible’ is very noble but often misguided in his intentions; indeed pride and ego are most likely the motivating forces.
Unfortunately all good intentions are not always healthy or sustainable.
Perhaps ‘Mr Invincible’ is
infact ‘Mr Vulnerable’!
An understanding of the destructivity of stress in our lives is essential to minimise our vulnerability to ill health caused by it.
Stress in our lives is often deceptive and this can be damaging, as we often unaware it exists. The list of stressful causes is endless and includes relationships, finances, peer pressures and work.
A poor diet and lack of exercise are the obvious contributors, but there are a long list of side effects caused by exposure to stress including anxiety, depression, panic disorders, high blood pressure, heart disease, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, irritability and anger.
The most alarming of symptoms of stress are those that cause unpredictable changes to our normal body functions. Heart palpitations, pounding or racing, high blood pressure, shallow and rapid breathing, light headedness, excessive sweating, cold hands and feet, frequent urination and diarrhoea.
More acute symptoms can include digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, blood sugar disorders, impotence in men, body aches and pains, back and neck pain, headaches, generalised tension and stiffness in the muscles, jaw clenching, teeth grinding and musculartics or twitches are other signs.
Finally behavioural changes such as a change in sleep patterns, loss of motivation in otherwise driven people, loss or gain of appetite, nail biting and loss of libido can also occur. It is an unfortunate reflection on society that many of these symptoms are trivialised.
Do you or any your loved ones have any of these signs or symptoms?
If so, you need to recognise that aspects of your life require change and if you are unsure, seek advice from professionals.
For males it actually takes a bigger man to seek help, rather than to suffer silently. This will ultimately lead to a greater demise that takes your capacity to take responsibility out of your own hands at a later stage.
Having identified the stresses, you will then need to act and commit to change.
There is many ways of positively influencing your wellbeing including eating a more balanced diet, drinking less alcohol and exercising more. Other stress management techniques include meditation, talking to your partner, confronting your boss, seeking professional help and taking regular holidays.
Changing your thinking towards a healthier lifestyle also includes accepting that regular medical assessment is essential. Yes, this means guys actually going to the doctor for a regular check up and chat.
I am not suggesting that we should all throw in our jobs, give away the booze, and go and sit on a mountain for 12 months meditating.
I am as drawn to an indulgent meal and a great bottle of red as the next guy, especially at the end of a stressful week.
The key is to recognise stress and implement strategies such as better diets, more exercise and greater all round balance so you can live a happy and healthy life, for a long time.