22 Jun Guys, We Need To Talk.
Last week was Men’s Health Week, and although they likely don’t want to admit it, let’s face it – men are not as healthy as women. The stereotype of a hard-working, overachieving, providing male executive has some basis in reality; and it’s making men sicker and shaving years off their life.
Women outlive men in Australia by around 4 years on average, and for indigenous men, life expectancy is 13 years less.
Why is this the case? On average, men tend to smoke and drink more alcohol than women do, they go to the doctor less and are far less likely to get check-ups and health screenings than their female peers. As a result, the men in our lives are unhealthier, sicker, and die younger than women.
2/3 of men avoid going to the doctor for as long as possible.
The image of a masculine, “I’m fine,” male has been ingrained into our society. 72% of men would rather clean toilets than go to the GP and 37% have withheld information from their GP due to fear around diagnosis. Considering men are more likely to have serious diseases and don’t prioritise their health, this is concerning.
Men are far more likely to die from cardiovascular disease and cancer, but the biggest threat to men under 45 is suicide.
In Australia, 8 people every day lose their life to suicide. 6 of those 8 people are men.
These statistics are alarming – why are so many men falling victim to their mental health?
A recent report from the Black Dog Institute – Men’s Experiences With Suicidal Thoughts and Depression found that there were core traits or experiences that were common among men who became suicidal; Men were more likely to enforce a masculine personality that pushes stoicism and doesn’t leave room for being ‘weak’. Men with suicidal tendencies also struggle with unhelpful behaviours like substance abuse to try and mask how they feel. These men also tend to isolate themselves as a coping mechanism – which usually just prolongs the problem, or makes it worse.
The good news is that preventing poor mental health outcomes, improving the risk of disease and increasing life expectancy is all achievable. Improving your health is made simple with our Pillars of Performance. These four pillars; mindset, movement, nutrition, and recovery cover all the bases and is a good place to start to see if you’re doing everything you can.
- Check in with your mates and speak up if you need help.
- Connect socially through casual sporting teams, regular catch-ups with friends and colleagues.
- Practice mindfulness and meditation to alleviate stress
- Make your health important; sleep, eat, and exercise well and often.
- Work on increasing strength through resistance training
- Incorporate cardiovascular exercise to improve your heart and lungs
- Ensure to plan time for exercise but also make time to enjoy lighter (or incidental) exercise; go for a long walk, play with the kids, or a casual bike ride on a Sunday.
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily
- Get plenty of protein and fibre. This will help to keep you full and satiated and help to prevent overeating
- Keep portions sizes reasonable and take your time to eat your meals
- Switch off your devices an hour before bed. This helps to eliminate as much artificial light as possible. Having a glaring artificial light in your face can affect our hormonal response and signifies to our brain that it’s the middle of the day – even if you are desperately trying to get a good night’s sleep.
- Practice slow breathing. When we are about to fall asleep, our breathing slows down. To help kickstart this process, take time to focus on your breathing and slow it down. Use the 6/4/10 method:
- Inhale for 6 seconds
- Hold for 4 seconds
- Exhale for 10 seconds
Men need to do better at looking after themselves and each other. The best way to do that is to prioritise your health by exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep. It also includes looking out for your mates and getting checked. The best way to encourage the men around you is to be a good role model and strive to be the best version of yourself.