The Men’s Health page will give you some ideas to consider for your own personal growth. We most often think of health as physical health, but must remember that being healthy means being both physically and mentally healthy.
Two important concepts for a healthy lifestyle are “balance” and “moderation.” First, we need to balance or give attention to our various life dimensions/activities. The more important the life dimension, the more time and energy it should receive, such as our families and jobs. Secondly, doing things in moderation means one stays in the limits of reasonable behavior, avoiding the extremes of too little or too much.
Working toward self- improvement is an admirable quality in any man. Consider the following life dimensions in your own personal development:
Culture and the media teach us that to be a man, one must be strong, muscular, dominant, and powerful. Men are left to feel that if they don’t achieve the ideal male body of being fit, athletic, and muscular, they will be sexually undesirable. Women complain that men are distant and uncommunicative. Boys learn to suppress their emotional expression, thinking it is not manly. With all this objectification and perception of men’s emotional shallowness, men feel the only thing they can take pride in is their body and its usefulness in function (sex, playing sports, work).
But, men need to realize that masculinity is more well- rounded than the way culture objectifies it. Being a man involves being nurturing and caring, loving and gentle, open and understanding, emotionally connected with others and an effective communicator, honest and a person of integrity, one who strives after self- improvement, and so much more. Being a man is about more than the physical man, it is about his inner character. It is this inner character that makes a man attractive to family and friends. So, develop your inner character traits to be the best person you can be.
There are some basic principles to eating a moderate, balanced diet. Eat a variety of foods in moderation from each of the three basic food groups (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats), and eat when physically hungry and stop eating when satisfied.
Protein should compromise about 35% of your diet, carbohydrates 40% or more of your diet, and fats (especially monounsaturated fats) 20- 30% of your diet. Carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and pasta. Proteins include meat, fish, eggs, nuts, legumes, and dairy products.
Get most of your fats from monounsaturated fats, such as olive and canola oil. Consume only a minimum of saturated and hydrogenated fats, such as butter, margarine, and fat from meat.
Drink 8 to 10 cups of water a day; more with strenuous exercise and when it is hot.
The average man needs about 2,500 calories a day, more or less depending on his size, metabolism, and activity level. Don’t count calories, but make thoughtful, healthy food choices and be tuned into your hunger/satiety level.
95% of the time diets do not work, and often dieters gain back more weight than they initially weighed. Rather than dieting, develop a way of eating that is wholesome and satisfying.
The normal eater is flexible (not rigid) and occasionally is willing to treat oneself to desserts and foods higher in fat than one would typically eat. The normal eater is able to enjoy eating without guilt.
Moderate exercise is important to a healthy lifestyle. Some individuals compulsively over- exercise, and this is unhealthy and may predispose one to injury. In addition, to causing fatigue and injuries, those who compulsively over- exercise tend to neglect other areas of their life, such as their family and friends. Typically these individuals excessively exercise, in order to escape from some emotional pain, which they are in denial.
The benefits of regular, moderate exercise, include elevated mood, alleviating stress, having more pride in your body, good health, sound sleep, function better in life and in sex, and a more physically fit appearance.
Federal exercise recommendations call for Americans to get at least 2- 1/2 hours of moderate exercise per week (or 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week) for optimal health. Three to five hours of exercise is modest, but ten or more hours per week is excessive.
Exercise should be enjoyable, so choose physical activities and sports you consider fun. Involvement in sports and exercises you enjoy and doing them with others will motivate you to continue your sport or exercise regiment.
If you are engaged in a more formal exercise program, include the three exercise components of cross training: aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility. Aerobic exercises, such as walking, improves cardiovascular capabilities. Strength training, such as weightlifting, helps develop muscle mass. Flexibility exercises, such as stretching, keeps you limber.
If you engage in strength training, work the different muscle groups. After working a muscle group, always allow at least a day in between before working out on that muscle group again. It is important to allow the broken down muscles from the exercises for a specific muscle group to recover and heal before using them again. So, work different muscle groups on different days and opposing muscle groups on the same day.
If you are a beginner to strength training, consider having a personal trainer who can show you what weightlifting equipment is used for what muscle groups and the proper form for lifting.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults on average should get 7 - 9 hours sleep and adolescents 8.5 - 9.5 hours sleep daily.
Besides the obvious reasons for getting adequate sleep – alertness, better mood, increased energy, and improved memory – researchers are finding several health benefits to having adequate sleep, include reducing stress and inflammation, may help prevent cancer, contributes to a healthier heart, may minimize depression, and helps the body repair itself.
We have many types of relationships, including family, friends, and work relationships. The closer the relationship, the more time and effort is required to maintain a healthy relationship.
Relationships help us feel a sense of belonging and connection to others. With family and friends there can be mutual love/friendship, caring, and respect. Family and friends provide someone for us to share our feelings and thoughts with, to do social activities with, and to get help from in our time of need. The worth of a good friend or family member can not be overstated.
Our mental health depends on being connected to others and having quality relationship.
Effective communication can prevent miscommunication, help people to feel heard, and improve relationships.
An important precept for any good communicator is that he is first an active listener by carefully listening to what is said verbally as well as interpreting non-verbal cues, such as vocal tone, gestures, and facial expression to understand the full meaning of what is being communicated.
Here are some tips to use when communicating with someone:
Probing – Ask the speaker questions to obtain more information or to help him continue to express his feelings, thoughts, or problems.
- Rephrasing – Restate in different words, your understanding of what the speaker has said.
- Reflection of feelings – Mirror back to the other person, your perception of his feelings as expressed through his verbal and nonverbal communication. This demonstrates understanding of how the speaker feels.
- Summarizing – Reiterate the feelings, thoughts, and ideas expressed by the other person after he has finished speaking. Again, this shows understanding of what the speaker has expressed.
- Validating – Show appreciation to the other person for communicating with you.
- Use “I” statements , rather than “you” statements that tend to put the other person on the defensive.
- Self-Disclosure – Be willing to disclose part of yourself, in order to identify with the other person and to connect to one another.
Anger in itself is a healthy, human emotion, but the way we deal with our anger is what makes it a healthy or unhealthy expression. Violence and lashing out are unhealthy expressions of anger, can be physically and/or emotionally hurtful, does not respect the other person or his opinions, and does not contribute to resolving the conflict in a healthy and fair way.
Anger management is about learning skills that enable you to reduce the emotional feelings and the physiological arousal that anger causes in you, in order to allow you to deal with anger in an appropriate, calm manner.
The first key point to anger management is to have a “cool down” moment before responding to the other person. During this “cool down” moment use one of these relaxation techniques: count slowly 1- 10, put your hand(s) over your abdomen and blow down into your hand(s), calmly repeat a word or phrase (such as “relax”), imagine a peaceful scenario, or concentrate on inhaling and exhaling.
Reframe your thinking, since your thoughts may be exaggerated. For example, reframe thoughts of “never, always, everything is ruined, nothing will ever change” with more realistic thoughts, such as “I am alright, it is understandable I feel the way I do, that lashing out won’t accomplish anything.”
Identify why you feel angry and what it is you need from the other person. If you need more time to think things through before responding to the person, tell him you will get back to him later. If you have calmed down enough and feel able to proceed with a discussion with the offending person, then slowly and respectfully using effective communication skills proceed. Express how the other person’s actions impact your feelings using “I” statements (when you …, I feel …). Be focused on how to resolve the conflict, so you are both mutually satisfied with the outcome.
Stress is a combination of negative emotions, such as frustration, anger, annoyance, anxiety, fear, feeling overwhelmed, etc.
We all experience stress, so it is vital that we learn how to manage it. Stress can affect our bodies, thoughts and feelings, and behavior. For example, stress can produce a headache, can cause us to feel restless, and may predispose us to under or overeat.
Stress management helps us reduce the level of stress we experience through relaxation techniques, recreational activities, and by controlling the source of the stress as much as is humanly possible (such as by not putting off doing an assignment until the day before it is due).
Relaxation techniques can include visualization, word or phrase repetition, listening to relaxation tapes, breathing exercises, meditation, and listening to tranquil music. Activities such as exercising, sports, watching a movie, and reading a book are healthy ways of momentarily distracting us from our stress, so we can return refreshed to deal with the source of the stress. Caution must be taken with regard to not using unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as food, smoking, alcohol, or drugs to deal with stress.
One has more zest for life when they are involved in activities they find meaningful and purposeful. Such activities could include raising a family, a job, volunteer work, and a hobby. Whatever it is that gives you personal satisfaction and enjoyment, you will feel better about yourself and life will seem more tolerable. Recognize your talents and the things you can do well, and put them to good use.
Spirituality acknowledges a spirit dwelling within us that transcends our mind and body. This spirit can be called God, Higher Power, Collective Unconscious, the Self, Inner Voice, etc. Our inner spirit will help us see our self-worth, show us our capacity to love, and help us find inner peace.
Some of the benefits of experiencing the presence of this spirit in us, include:
1. Feeling more relaxed and at peace
2. Being more tuned into one's self and others needs
3. Feeling more focussed
4. Providing a higher sense of direction in one's life
5. Providing meaning and purpose to life
6. Valuing relationships over superficiality
7. Being less concerned with external values
8. Having greater respect and love for self and others
We can develop our spiritual source through meditation, prayer, spiritual reading, relaxation techniques, music, art, nature, etc. Regularly spending time tuning into one's inner spirit can promote peace and health, and many have used the power of prayer as one technique for providing them a source of strength for overcoming their eating disorder.
Most people hav e to work to support themselves. Work takes up a significant portion of our time. The ideal situation is to work a job that is enjoyable, meaningful, where you feel appreciated for your work, and that is financially rewarding. With many jobs, especially those that are considered menial, it takes a bit more effort to recognize and take pride in how your contribution through your job benefits others in the community.
If you feel dissatisfied with your job for any reason, look for another job. If a job you aspire to requires further education, go back to school. Having a job that is satisfying will help you to feel better about yourself and make you happier.
RELAXATION and RECREATION
It is important to schedule time for relaxation and recreational activities. This time can help you get away from the daily grind and relieve stress. After time spent doing something fun, you can return to work refreshed. Planning time for relaxation and doing things you enjoy makes the work of the day more tolerable.
Try to schedule time each day for relaxation or doing a fun activity. Consider going away for the weekend, and if you can financially afford it, consider a vacation of a week or longer.
Vacations help us to relax and think more clearly, give us a sense of adventure, strengthen bonds with family and/or friends, prevent burnout, increase creativity and productivity, and feel refreshed and energized – and planning a trip gives us something to look forward to and work toward.
Sex is a basic need and fills a vital function in our lives as we strive for intimacy. Sex helps us to relax and relieves our stress. There are many physical and emotional health benefits to sex. But, what makes for healthy sex?
Men more than women separate sex from love and emotions. However, healthy sex involves seeing sex as a mutual expression of deep love of both partners. In the context of a relationship, sex is pleasurable at both a physical and emotional level.
Healthy sex always respects the other person and involves consensual sex. It is important to practice safe sex to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Additionally, it is important to always have sex with people you know, trust, and feel safe with.
Men who feel uncomfortable with sexual expression may have emotional problems, relationship issues, fears of intimacy or fears of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, conflicts with their standard of morality, or may have a poor body image. If these problems significantly interfere with your sexual desire and expression, consider talking with a therapist.
In today’s society, men are increasingly objectified by culture and the media, leaving many men feeling inadequate as a man. Additionally, ads trying to sell sex products to enhance men’s sexual competence play on men’s insecurities about themselves. Consequently, men feel in general as well as sexually inadequate. Rather than obsessing over their appearance and competencies, men would be better off developing their communication skillsand character traits to improve their relationships.