Even though men encounter stressful life events at the same or greater rates as women, it’s no secret that women participate in therapy at a much higher rate than men.
So, what drives men away from therapy and other forms of self-care?
“For some reason, American culture stigmatizes a man’s expression of emotion,” said De’Von Patterson, PhD, a psychologist with Baptist Behavioral Health on the Baptist Clay Medical Campus. “Mistakenly, men are expected to just ‘bottle it up,’ or deal with it like a man.”
Men need self-care, too, but that doesn’t mean receding deeper into one’s man cave. By intentionally adding simple enhancements to their daily life, such as more exercise or meditation, men can improve their ability to regulate emotions.
“Exercise makes just about everything better and easier,” said Dr. Patterson. “In addition, stress management can be simplified to what things you add and subtract from your life to make it better.”
For example, you might add more exercise to your daily routine and subtract the amount of projects you take on at work. And instead of plopping down on the couch or the recliner after work, get down on the floor and stretch to iron out the kinks from a sedimentary lifestyle.
Tidying up the garage or workshop, watering plants or feeding backyard birds are other ways to wind down around the house.
Other self-care tips for men
- Know your burnout signs.
- Document your feelings in a journal.
- Hang out with like-minded people.
“Opening up to others is often one of the most helpful things to do in a stressful time,” Dr. Patterson said. “Find someone you trust to share your feelings. It’s unrealistic for a man to expect to manage the stresses of life without some difficulty.”
Self-care is not for special occasions. Don’t try to “squeeze” it into a busy weekend. Self-care for men means finding the small things that matter to you and making space for them on a daily basis.
Said philosopher William James, considered the father of American psychology, “the greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
If you are having trouble managing stress, make an appointment with one of our 15 Baptist Behavioral Health outpatient offices or call 904.376.3800.