If you follow me on social media, you’ll see me post about men’s mental health quite often. According to Samaritans’ latest suicide statistics report, men in the UK are 3 times more likely to take their own lives than women. Suicide rates for young men are also on the rise, but the 45-49 age group is the most vulnerable bracket.
These shocking stats highlight how important it is for men to prioritise our mental health and it’s up to us to normalise talking about it. If you need some pointers on looking after your wellbeing, use this guide on mental health tips for men (and watch my videos).
1. Don’t be a stranger
Nothing beats a beer and a chat with a close friend. Ensure you have regular social contact with people you care about so you can get things off your chest. I’m not saying you need to have a serious heart-to-heart every time you see your mates. It’s about asking your friends how they are with the intent to listen, or bringing up problems and openly discussing anything that’s bringing you down.
When you start feeling like you want to withdraw from people, this is a sign that you need good company. It’s tempting to hide ourselves away, but that makes things worse. Even just a quick phone call can make you feel less isolated and ensures you don’t keep things bottled up. Whether it’s a friend, colleague, family member or a helpline – just talk to someone.
2. Banish the bad habits
Stuck in a rut? Take a look at your lifestyle, consider what’s making you feel this way and how you can change it. Bad habits breed poor mental health and keep you trapped in those unhealthy cycles. So start ditching the binge eating, binge drinking and binge watching and do something that makes you feel good.
If social media gets you down, start reducing your screen time to pursue a hobby or develop a new skill. Instead of spending all your free time in front of the TV, go for a walk. Making incremental, 1% changes every day works wonders for your mental wellbeing and you’ll gradually move away from bad habits that hold you back.
3. Get moving
When you want to lift your mood, working out is the way to go. This is one of the most effective mental health tips because of all the benefits physical activity has to offer. Not only does exercise release endorphins and improve your mood, it’s also proven to reduce anxiety and stress.
Studies have shown that it reduces negative moods, feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety, as well as boosting self-esteem.
So why not sign up for a new gym membership and start training, or go for a daily run? Once you ditch that comfort zone, your confidence will grow. Setting new fitness goals also gives you something positive to focus on.
4. Stop eating crap
If you’re filling your body with crap, guess what? You’re going to feel like crap. Your body needs various nutrients to function properly and healthily, your brain included. Nutrition plays a fundamental role in the onset of mental illnesses like depression, so don’t underestimate the power of a balanced diet. When you eat well, you’ll feel more energised and less sluggish.
5. Practise mindfulness
Meditation and mindfulness have a powerful effect on mental wellbeing when practised regularly. Not only does mindfulness help you take control of your thoughts and feelings, it reduces anxiety and rumination. So if you’re stressed, anxious and need to create a sense of calm, mindfulness and meditation help you take some time out for yourself to recharge.
6. Create a routine
Having structure to your day enables you to concentrate on cultivating healthy habits. It also helps you focus on what’s important to you and stops you from becoming overwhelmed with an endless to-do list.
Establish a daily routine for yourself that involves eating well, spending time with loved ones, exercising or pursuing something you enjoy. When you have down days that suck the energy out of you, having a go-to routine will help you feel less lost.
Self-care is crucial when it comes to looking after your mental health. Even simple acts of self-care can help you recharge your batteries. So if you feel like you’re burned out and constantly running on auto-pilot, you need to take time to rest and recover. Self-care can be as simple as ensuring you’re washed and groomed, getting enough sleep or keeping a mood journal.
8. Seek help
If you reach a point of crisis, you must ask for help. It may seem hard to ask for help and admit you’re struggling, but it’s always worth it. Reach out to someone you feel comfortable with, or contact any of the following helplines:
- CALM is open 5pm until midnight everyday. Call them on 0800 58 58 58.
- Samaritans offer a free listening service 24 hours a day. Call them on 116 123.
- Mind is open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
- Rethink Mental Illness’ practical advice line is open Monday – Friday, 10am until 4pm. Reach them on 0300 5000 927