How Men Express Stress: The Increasing Challenges of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Dad’s Mental Health by Noel McDermott
From boyhood men are told to be brave and ambitious. As they grow older, they strive to become good fathers, partners and providers. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the traditional role of men has changed, and with this has come new pressures. Here we'll explore how men express stress, and I'll share some stress-management techniques to help handle these new demands.
What Men Fear Most
The biggest fear for many men is that they won't able to return to full economic productivity and earning capacity, and this is still a large part of men’s identity and role in our culture. Men who act as the primary breadwinners in their household feel the financial burden and responsibility within their relationship. For those that are now returning to work, many are reporting anxiety with the loss of family time and others are feeling the pressure to make up for lost earnings and secure an economic future.
Numerous studies show men feel financial stresses both as a status issue and as a provider. This can lead to relationship difficulties, drinking, substance misuse and mental health issues. These concerns increase significantly during times of economic downturn, and this can be seen during the lifting of lockdown.
For many men, their whole lives have been turned upside down. The vast majority still can’t go to work, to the gym, play sports with a team or go out with friends. Men in general have fewer social and emotional support systems and the places where men used to go and talk about their problems are closed and they’ve found themselves in new, unfamiliar circumstances. For those that are fathers, they have been at home all day with more exposure to the household demands and domestic responsibilities balancing both work and family. This has created even more demands and pressures.
Mask of Masculinity
Despite being at home with loved ones, many men don’t speak to their partners or wives about their problems, as they feel the pressure to be role models and talking about their worries doesn’t fit the mask of masculinity that has been thrust upon them from an early age. However, not talking about their problems and going without social interaction has created a surge in stress, depression and anxiety in men.
How Men Express Stress
Stress is a big factor in health and mental health for both men and women, and these times of transition are very stressful. Typically, we see men express stress in a number of ways:
- sexual performance issues and loss of libido
- emotional dysregulation (irritability and anger)
- sleep issues
- appetite issues
- withdrawal and bottling things up
- increased drinking
- mood shifts and mood swings
Self-help for Men: Stress Management Techniques
The single biggest thing men can do to help themselves is learn better stress-management techniques.
- First, spot it. Know the signs that you are experiencing problems and have your "fire escape" plan in place to ensure you manage it better. Ways to manage it include increased self-care, asking for help from others, getting professional help and talking to your doctor.
- Ensure general well-being practices to increase resilience. These include exercise, sleeping well, healthy eating, talking to friends and family about your worries, staying hydrated, getting outside regularly and ensuring you do fun things.
- Increase your time as a family and with your partner. Discuss your worries and provide reassurance and support, and ensure you normalize your experiences of stress and understand everyone is feeling this and it’s not a sign of failure to feel overwhelmed.
A sign that there may be need for professional help is if there are problems in functioning that are persistent over a two-week period. Periodic anxiety or depression lasting a short period of time is to be expected and will generally shift of their own accord if your general mental hygiene/lifestyle is resilient. If it continues for days and weeks, then there is likely to be a problem needing proper diagnosis and treatment and asking your doctor for advice is a good idea.
The information on 30Seconds.com is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information provided through this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider.
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