November marks an important time of year to talk about men’s wellbeing and the betterment of men in general. Movember famously runs throughout the month, which involves a series of events and initiatives to raise awareness for men’s mental health, suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Today also marks International Men’s Day, a time to recognise and celebrate the “positive value men bring to the world, their families and communities.”
With such a tumultuous past couple of years, having these sometimes difficult conversations is essential – perhaps now more than ever. Over the past twelve months, many of us have been forced out of our routines, confined to our homes: in short, our lives have been turned upside down! However, a return to normalcy can bring its own challenges. Now, more than ever, it’s important to check in on your own, and others’ mental and physical health.
In recognition of International Men’s Day and the focus on men’s welfare this month, we wanted to delve into some practices that help to restore, develop, and fortify men’s health. We’ll show you how you can incorporate these into your routine to nurture your emotional, social, and physical wellbeing whenever you need to.
The state of men’s health
A 2019 web report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare published the following key findings about men’s health in Australia:
- The leading cause of death for males in 2017 was coronary heart disease, followed by suicide.
- More than half of Australian men exceeded the single occasion risk drinking guideline in 2017–18.
- Around one in two Australian males had one or more of the 10 selected chronic conditions in 2017–18, including (but not limited to) mental and behavioural problems, back problems, cancer and heart, stroke and vascular disease.
- Three in four men were overweight or obese in 2017-18.
These findings paint a picture of the state of men’s health across the country. While it may seem serious, this doesn’t mean that the power for better physical and mental health lies completely out of your hands.
The Canadian Men’s Health Foundation published the following important facts about men’s health:
- 30% of a man’s overall health is determined by genetics.
- 70% of a man’s health can be controlled by lifestyle.
- Men live nine years in poor health, most of which are preventable through small lifestyle changes.
- Inactive men are 60% more likely to suffer from depression than those who are active.
Below are some of our tips to improve men’s health and happiness over time.
Bettering men’s health
Have screenings and physical checkups
Whether or not you notice anything out of balance in your physical health or any physical issues arise, it’s important to get regular screenings – around once a year. This diminishes the chance of any dormant or budding problems from developing and compromising your health further down the track. Aside from a general check-up, your glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol should also be evaluated.
By the same token, if you notice that something is wrong, ‘toughing it out’ may lead to symptoms worsening in the future and may come at a cost to your wellbeing. Prevention or early detection is ideal, so seeking medical advice is simply a wise investment in your health and longevity.
Know your family history
Genetic history of certain diseases may leave you at a higher risk. Communicating these with your doctor allows you to form a prevention plan and reduce the chances of developing the same health issues.
Pay attention to what you eat
What we feed our bodies influences so many aspects of our health. If your current diet lacks a balance of fresh fruits and vegetables and nourishing wholefoods, take a step in a positive direction. This can simply involve substituting certain unhealthier elements on your plate in your regular meals for cleaner alternatives. For example, try seasoning with fresh herbs and spices instead of salt, swap white rice for brown rice, or substitute a side of hot potato chips for homemade carrot and sweet potato wedges.
Bettering men’s happiness
Schedule time to disconnect
The importance of making time to consciously disconnect from our devices and our seemingly endless to-do lists cannot be understated. A quick break from the busy hustle of daily life can help you adjust, realign and clarify your perspective. As simple as this is, the therapeutic benefits are powerful.
We suggest simply finding a space free from distractions (including your phone), getting comfortable, and just being alone with your thoughts for a few minutes. This moment should be free from judgment. Don’t worry about whether or not you’re doing it ‘right’, just let any thoughts you have come and go, flowing in and out of your mind.
Use this opportunity to connect with your breath, take notice of your environment, and pay attention to each of the feelings throughout your body.
Don’t go it alone
When we’re feeling down or overwhelmed, isolating ourselves from those around us can become a default reaction. While spending time with yourself is important, seeking support from friends and family is just as necessary. As social creatures, our relationships and connections are a basic and core need.
Spending time in the company of friends allows you to take time out, talk about anything that’s weighing on your mind, or even just have a much-needed laugh!
Dedicate time for enjoyment
We are in the habit of prioritising what ‘must’ be done: chasing deadlines, being swamped by the mundane tasks of the day-to-day, getting swept along with the routine of things. We encourage you to pull yourself out of your daily routine and spend some time each day doing what brings you joy. Whether it’s listening to music, reading a book, exercising or doing handiwork, it’s these little things that tend to bring more happiness and satisfaction to your life, even if you only get to spend short periods doing them.
Immersing yourself in the moment, doing something you love, helps transport you completely to the present, giving you the optimal state of mind to practice mindfulness. This meditative technique helps us manage our emotions and levels of stress, anxiety and depression.
You can read more about mindfulness in our beginners guide here.
Always make time to exercise
When we exercise, blood flow and nerve connections increase in our brain, stimulating the release of feel-good chemicals like endorphins and serotonin. Plus, releasing the tension built up during the day helps to relax the body and mind, allowing us to unwind better at the end of each day.
“There is definitely something good about dedicating time to exercise,” says Head of Eden Health Retreat’s PE Department, Cain. ”We can use this time to escape our busy lifestyle and give back to ourselves, which is very beneficial to our mental health and well-being.”
Exercise is also a great opportunity to spend some time outdoors connecting with nature or to meet up with a friend and share the commitment of incorporating movement into each day. When paired with good, wholesome nutrition, physical activity is a key factor in maintaining mental wellbeing.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Asking for help and leaning on those around you is never a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s essential for us all – as humans – to do at some stage or another. We are not built to carry life’s burdens alone – that’s exactly what our friends and family are for; to share the load.
If you start to see changes in your overall happiness and relationships, it’s crucial to reach out and ask for help. If you seek support beyond your circle of loved ones, there are organisations available for you to reach out to at any time.
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This International Men’s Day, we implore you to take a careful assessment of your mental and physical health, connect with your circle of friends and family, and be mindful of the males in your life. Be aware of any signs that they may need support. Good health – physical, emotional and mental – is the key to our longevity and should be prioritised at all times, no matter what life throws our way.
If you need help realigning your life to a path of health and optimal wellbeing, our retreat is here for you to do exactly that. We have a number of incredible health professionals who can work with you to understand your current health condition and optimise your lifestyle to reap long-term benefits.
To chat with a member of our team about how we can tailor your stay at Eden to your health and wellness goals, click here.