During Men’s Health awareness month, you will undoubtedly come across countless resources that will tell you how to keep fit physically and mentally. And how important it is to talk about your feelings. Your social media feed will be flooded with several clean-shaven faces to start Movember, and International Men’s Day is just around the corner. This is all fantastic and very important. But I wanted to take a more introspective look at men’s mental health and how it’s affected me, especially during the pandemic.
What does good mental health look like for me?
The older I’ve become, the more I’ve thought about who I am as a person. I’ve considered what I want to be for the rest of my life and what I need in order to be the happiest version of myself. It’s taken a lot of time and thought, but I have benefitted hugely from it. I created my own health check list. This ranged from mental and physical to social, recreational and emotional health. Then I looked at each category and asked myself: “what does good mental health look like for me?” I included things like:
- Having time alone with my thoughts.
- Being open about my feelings.
- Addressing issues with people and not letting them fester.
This helped me visualise exactly what I needed to achieve peace and happiness. At the end of the month, I ticked each box, just to see what I’d achieved. This way, I see which areas need more attention and it steers me for the next month. It truly does act as a great tailored guide to see what I need.
This is a very pragmatic guide and may not be for everyone. But I’ve definitely felt more in tune with my emotions when I actively face them. It stops me for waiting for things to get worse before I act. Plus, having created it myself, it’s truly tailored towards me and not just generic advice written by someone else.
Being more mindful
Things are rarely as simple as they appear at first glance. Someone could give you all the advice in the world, but you’ll need to find out what truly works for you and make the most of it. So, when it comes to men’s health and giving advice in general, putting yourself in someone’s shoes is the best approach.
Becoming more mindful of my emotions has become even more important during the last few months. There has been a clear negative shift in the general mental wellbeing of everyone from students to those working from home. The constant lack of clarity from the government, confusing restrictions and the lack of time spent with people I care about, have all played a part in making me feel more melancholy and isolated.
Although a lot of this is out of my control, I have tried to embrace these feelings instead of ignoring them. Trying to understand why I feel the way I feel hasn’t necessarily improved the situation. But it has put me at ease, knowing that I’m in tune with my feelings and the world around me.
With so many resources available, it would seem the internet has all the best answers. But you need to do what works for you – just make sure you do it. Embrace your feelings, think about why you feel that way and don’t be afraid to keep talking. Once you understand this, you can seek out the support you need. Whether that comes from your loved ones or support from our partners like Anxiety UK.
You are important, you are valued and your feelings matter. Please, don’t suffer in silence, the support you need is just a click away.