BIG BOYS DON'T CRY. //
- Ending the stigma around male mental health
BIG BOYS DON'T CRY
Guess what, they do. And they shouldn't be scared to show it.
When only just a quarter of males in our society believe it is ok for them to show emotion, you know that we have a problem. 78% of those who take their own lives in this country are men. Men that are told to be ‘macho’ and to ‘man-up’ and seen as ‘weak’ if they cry in public. Men are often so focused on the idea of masculinity and how they should appear to others within society. The gender stereotype of men showing no tears, no emotions, no pain upholds a stigma that needs to be rectified. The point of this discussion is to understand the issue of body image, internalisation of emotions, fitness being a release and how to end the stigma.
Jono Selvadurai, 1R Master Trainer, wants to start the conversation and make the topic of male mental health mainstream this Movember.
Image is a huge stigma when it comes to men’s health.
I’m tall, lean, lanky, a little uncoordinated and didn’t grow up playing for the rugby team. Yet within the fitness world the norm is for guys to aim to look like Greek gods, boasting killer abs, bulging biceps and the perfectly sculpted body. But in reality, not everyman will achieve that, nor should they have to.
I’m a big believer in learning to feel comfortable in one’s skin, and I try to share that message with the guys around me.
I feel strong, I love what my body can do, and I’m grateful for every inch of it. Strength is not what you see, it’s what you feel, but these internal achievements are not always what’s focused on in society. How many campaigns have you seen that encourage males to feel comfortable within their curves?
MEN INTERNALIZE EMOTIONS
Generally speaking men tend to hide away from emotions and feelings. Again this “rough and tough” persona has become socially accepted as what ‘real men’ should be like. Encouraging men to bottle everything up and deal with their struggles alone. On average, 12 men take their lives in the UK every day. The numbers tell us everything we need to know.
We’ve taken incredible steps in empowering women (with a lot of work still to be done) but are we taking the required action to support the guys?
Social media, online dating, the daily hustle and stresses of our work environment are just further opportunities for rejection and fear that we struggle to accept. With this increase of frustration, anxiety, worry and distress how do men find release?
THE RELEASE OF FITNESS
Fitness is commonly known as one of the best forms of release for anxiety and stress. Fitness shouldn't just be seen as physical release through high intensity sessions, but also a mental release through practices such as meditation.
However fitness has become less focused on health and wellbeing, and more about aesthetics and how we look in our daily selfies.
We scroll through Instagram to see staged photos of the “ideal” “perfect” body, or countless ‘wellness warriors’ of another hipster drinking Kombucha. Most people in today’s society seem to be striving for physical perfection and forgetting the mental release that comes with exercise. Mental clarity, decreased stress levels and increased productivity are all aspects which we need to focus on instead.
RUN FORREST RUN
Historically, back in the mythological times, running was associated with freedom, vitality and inner vigour, whereas nowadays we associate running with fear or pain. However, 20 minutes on a treadmill will drastically reduce anxiety sensitivity and studies have shown that exercise alleviates symptoms for those suffering from clinical depression. Start investing in your workouts by allowing the triggers that moderate the brain’s response to stress to activate. Not only that, but your self confidence, improved memory, better decision making, creativity boost and overall feeling of wellbeing will go through the roof. The endorphin high does not lie.
WHY WE NEED TO END THE STIGMA
The statistics say it all, 1- 4 men in the UK experience a mental health problem every year. Our men are suffering. It’s time we start to stand our ground in not only allowing our guys to speak up but we need to create an openness to allowing that to happen, to listening. It’s simple steps of inspiring those around you that can change our attitude on this growing issue.
Talk to your bros. Open up to the lads. Ask those simple questions, show that you care. The moment that you start talking and encouraging the conversations, others will start to open up too.
Group fitness is beyond amazing for encouraging guys into a space of awareness. To enable guys to not feel alone and understand that struggle is real, others are going through similar issues, and that grouping together will help the process. We don’t have to be tough and put together.
I’ll speak up and tell you I’m not tough, I’m afraid of spiders, I’m not put together, I feel vulnerable and I question what I’m doing all the time. But I take reassurance in knowing that I’m NOT alone, that I can talk about it with people around me. Find people and be there for people that you can have these conversations with and start sharing. Lead the movement.
SHOW YOURSELF SOME LOVE
Self love is important, listen to your heart, listen to how it does an amazing job of beating everyday. We all have moments where it feels like you’re trapped and locked in a dark room. But let me reassure you, you are fine, you are ok, and you can talk about it.
It’s time for men to start fighting each other's corner. The successful campaigns around female empowerment are growing by the day. But where are the moments that empower men to talk about their emotions and show their vulnerability? Let’s end the stigma and start the change today.
Show your support and help the #RebelArmy to reach our 3k target for the Movember foundation this November HERE.