Do your negative thoughts regularly race across your mind? Do you feel hopeless and anxious for no reason at times? If you can say yes to either, you’re definitely not alone. All of us stress out from time to time because life just isn’t as easy as the movies make it. To make things worse, certain situations will inevitably affect our level of anxiety well beyond our control. It could be from failing a test, a deadline coming up too quick, or your family member falling deathly sick. Either way, the experience isn’t a fun one for someone who is easily swayed by their feelings. If you want to regain control of your anxiety, there’s a variety of tips out there to not allow it to take over your life. Anxiety in men especially can bring on feelings of shame and guilt, but those emotions don’t have to remain permanent if you aim to be proactive.
- Avoid the shame. It’s true that if you’re male you’ve likely to have been raised to control your emotions, as anxiety is perceived as a sign of weakness. Many men with anxiety can easily beat themselves into thinking that they’re dangerously vulnerable and failing in life. This feeling in turn can completely prevent them from reaching out for help. With time, their sense of anxiety can get more severe if no intervention is taken.
- Don’t turn to addictive outlets. It’s estimated that around 30% of men with anxiety are tempted to turn to substances as a way to cope with their symptoms. As most men are naturally more impulsive than women, they can have a higher tolerance on drugs or alcohol to deal with their emotions. In comparison, women are usually seen turning to their friends to vent their frustrations than initially seeking strong drinks or drugs. Building a tolerance to higher levels of an addictive substance will only damage your mental and physical state over time.
- Reach out. It’s not unusual to feel hopeless, depressed, or stressed when you can’t control your feelings of anxiety as a man. The best thing to do is to talk to a friend, family member, or spouse that you trust completely and voice your concerns. They will likely be concerned about your health and can encourage you to seek a doctor when you’re ready. You don’t need to commit to any treatment methods they advise just yet, but gaining more insight into your situation doesn’t hurt at all.
- Get more sleep. A lot of people find that their stress and anxiety levels greatly reduce when they get enough rest at night. Our bodies need ample time to recover and repair before starting a new day. Without it, our emotions can take a toll and we feel much more frazzled when things don’t go our way. Make sure you can schedule it well into your night and treat it as a top priority for your long term health. Some tips for sleeping better throughout the night is to eliminate any distractions nearby. Make sure your environment is clean, cool in temperature, and your phone is on “don’t disturb” mode to avoid annoying buzzing that could wake you up during the early morning. Another method for great sleep is to use essential oils in your room, be it chamomile or lavender that can signal your body to feel more relaxed and at ease.
- Move your body. Exercise at least for half an hour every day to get your body sweating and your blood pumping through your veins. Exercise encourages the release of serotonin that helps you feel extremely happy and satisfied as you complete a challenging workout. This doesn’t have to be time consuming as making small changes throughout the day instead of sitting or driving is good enough if you’re busy. Start walking to your destination more often, take the stairs, and even explore all the different desk exercises that are out there to start burning those extra calories. What helped me personally was to set small goals throughout the day and aim for consistency rather than doing things exactly perfect. For example, walking every day for at least thirty minutes is better than waiting all week to bust out a ten mile run. Frequency is everything when you’re trying to get your body and mind into better shape than before.
- Get involved. Starting a new project or even volunteering is a great way to become more active in your community. Doing so will help you create a strong support network and feel great about helping others who aren’t as fortunate. In my community, a lot of volunteers visit the local animal shelter, food pantry, or children’s after school programs to spend time with people and give back. They love the experience of being able to make another person’s day and that’s a memory that stays for life.
Overall, make sure you explore your options to deal with your anxiety and stress. The feeling doesn’t have to be there forever as you are the person in control of who you want to be in the future. My best advice to you is to start with being honest with yourself and think back to when your problems first began. Did you make any changes in your schedule, start to hang out with anyone new, or made any changes within your diet? You might find that certain changes in those areas could have sparked a pattern that negatively affected your life. Learn to also identify what triggers your anxiety, be it work, family, or school. Write your thoughts down in a journal or even text it to yourself when you’re feeling anxious. The change starts with you, so don’t hesitate!