This week our theme has been men’s health, and our mission has been to find a way of talking about it that is more positive and helpful. The most important health issue men face is getting over the fact that they think that asking for help is unmasculine.
We discovered that depression is one of most difficult illnesses for a man to confess to. Toughing it out is the usual approach, or worse still turning to drugs and alcohol to help ignore it. Obviously it’s much healthier to deal with the problem rather than paint over it with another problem. As with all these conditions we are talking about this week, the best cure is just that: talking about it.
Depression is hard to talk about but we also met the biggest taboo subject, and that is erectile dysfunction (or ED). Sexual excellence is a source of pride for most men, and this is hard wired into the male brain and so is very difficult to admit to something men see as a “failure”. But it’s just that, a taboo, and ED is commonplace and not a sign of weakness or age. It’s merely a physical problem which has causes both physical and mental. Doctors are sensitive to the embarrassment that it can cause and will go out of their way to make you feel secure in talking about it and helping you find a solution.
We also had some hard statistics about how bad it is for you to sit for most of your day and how sedentary lifestyles contain many health risks. Avoid leg and vein problems by moving yourself about more. How about working standing up, or walking to work and to lunch?
There has to be balance in life, both for good mental health and for physical wellbeing. The most important thing you can do for your life is to make sure you have one. What happens at work stays at work, and you should never, ever bring it home with you. If you work from home then make sure you shut the door to your work room and leave it that way all evening.
And finally, fat is not just a feminine issue and weight loss is something we should all take seriously. We all need to watch our intake of food, but not only that – we need to make sure we move around more than we sit. Weight gain stems from long periods of inactivity which mean we don’t burn the food we eat. Emotional problems and bad eating habits (starving yourself all day and eating a lot at night) are also a factor. For men the bravado of being able to drink and eat a lot is only allowed if you also use energy by working your body in between meals.
So men, take responsibility for your health. Treat it like a project, renovating a car or building a house, and take it seriously. Most of all, talk to someone; have at least one person you trust to discuss any health problems you may have.