This week is Men's Health Week 2020 and so we asked some of our male colleagues what health and well-being has looked like to them over the past months. Read to the end to see our tips on managing well-being.Men's Health - PAUL... "I have tried to maintain my health and well-being through trying new healthy recipes but still allowing myself the freedom to have treats every now and again. I have stuck to my usual routine of exercise and work to keep it as similar as it was before lockdown, but I have changed the exercises and started to make sure I drink more water which again makes me feel good, that feeling of having good energy because of my diet has been a massive boost. I have set my alarm set for 7:10 every day as I did before lockdown to do a morning run or HIIT session, the fresh air and challenge really helps give me a buzz and a happy positive start to the day, especially when enjoying a cup of tea and a sit down once the workout is finished, this puts me in a good place ready to tackle the day. I have made some “Me” time to chill and listen to my usual music but also music I haven’t listened to for a while such as Frank Sinatra and Bill Withers. Keeping in touch with close family such as my Brother and Gran even if it’s just a text every few days has made a massive difference, it’s always good to talk. Catching up with friends in whatsapp groups and on Zoom calls with different friendship groups has really helped maintain my positivity as well, as has daily whatsapp talks with my wonderful colleagues. I have also found making funny dance videos has boosted my mood, as has hearing positives stories from our clients and how they are achieving their goals, that gives me the best feeling."
Men's Health - STEPHEN... "I don't like exercise. 🙂 As soon as I start i'm bored. But at the moment I am more sedentary than ever (even for me) so I know I must do something. Being on the phone to clients 9 to 5 I can feel the negative effects accumulate through the day and by the time I finish i'm achy and grumpy. My solution is running. I don't go far and I don't go fast. My breathing sounds like a worn out hoover. But the effects are undeniable. Almost immediately I feel better and when I get back I have blown the cobwebs away and I am energised. On the downside my left knee feels like it's no longer attached, I can't breathe for 20 minutes and you could fry an egg on my forehead but that's a small price to pay. You have got to overcome the initial reluctance and get out there. The benefits are huge and it is habit forming. It can reach the stage where I have remember to not overdo it. You need good advice about exercise especially if you have been quite inactive lately. " Men's Health - DAN... "Moving into a lockdown situation with a house full of kids and the fine plate spinning art of housework, childcare, teaching and a full time job, the solution to keeping myself fit seemed simple. I wouldn’t bother. The idea of either getting up an hour earlier or building up a sweat once the kids were in bed in the promised land of “me time” didn’t offer the positive escape I was looking for. I did however begin to feel sluggish and demotivated. After reading through a blog on micro changes I introduced some simple, achievable targets – I wanted to achieve 100 push up and sit ups a day. Where I could steal 2 minutes I would do a set until I couldn’t do anymore. Initially this started with around 20 to 30 of each. As time went on I was getting to 70 or 80 in a go. I started really getting into it and pinning my targets on the fridge. Before I knew it, the whole family was involved and its turned into a really quick and simple challenge that has us all pushing ourselves. I feel stronger and fitter than I have in a long time and its only taking me a few minutes a day with no expensive equipment. The fact that I’m seeing results has really motivated me to switch out the kebab and replace it with some delicious, healthy, home made curries. I’ve lost 12cm off my waist! Home fitness routine -Check. Now onto that home-schooling. Simple, right?"
Men's health - NIGEL... For me, I have really enjoyed utilising some extra time to try to get outdoors with the family and explore some of the beautiful local countryside, which despite it always being on my doorstep I was not aware of it. It is amazing how many hidden footpaths, bridal ways, dens, streams and tracks are out there! I have also enjoyed getting on my bike, after the kids have finally fallen asleep, playing some of my favourite playlists from Spotify in my earphones, riding some of the newly found farm tracks, with the sun setting overhead!
Helpful tips and ideas to recognise and manage emotions :
During the current goings on, it’s completely understandable that fear and anxiety can become more overwhelming than usual and it’s important to remember that everyone will react and respond differently to these situations. Sometimes the hardest part is recognising and admitting that we need help. Due to the media and history, as Men we often find it hard to not only recognise but also manage and share our emotions due to this pressure of being a Man and having to be strong in every sense of the word, that pressure to be physically and mentally strong and the old saying “showing emotion is a sign of weakness” doesn’t really do much to help this. The truth is though, recognising, showing and sharing your emotions is a sign of strength, purely because it’s a step forward in the right direction to try and improve, the idea that Men can’t suffer problems is wrong and only creates an environment in which Men feel they can’t be seen to show emotion for fear of being mocked. So how do we recognise emotions? Well here are just a few signs and symptoms of mental illness or mental health disorders that may effect you on a day to day basis, please note that these symptoms can vary and may not all apply at the same time.
Constantly feeling sad or quite down
Problems with alcohol or drug misuse
Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate at home and at work
Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
Withdrawal from friends, family and social activities
Paranoia, hallucinations or detachment from reality (delusions)
Inability to cope with daily problems or stress at home and at work
Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
Major changes in eating habits, eating too much or not enough
Sex drive changes
Excessive anger, hostility or violence
Constant tiredness, low energy and difficulty sleeping
The effects they can have So now we know the signs and symptoms, let’s look at how they can effect you on a day to day basis. These feelings can effect how we feel, how we think and see things and quite importantly, how we act when alone or with others. These feelings will also contribute to and effect how you socialise and relate to others, the choices you make and how you handle stress as well. As listed above, these feelings can also alter your behaviour due to mood changes which can effect everything from relationships with partners, children, colleagues and friends as well as how you function on a day to day basis whether at work or working from home.
How to cope during these times Let’s be honest, it’s not easy and we all have to find ways of coping that work for us, there is no one-size fits all here, but lets acknowledge that with no sport, social activities, visiting friends and family both local and long distance, pubs, clubs, restaurants and the rest - it is tough. These are often things we look forward to which help distract us or let off steam so having these taken away from us for a period of time is going to effect our mood and behaviour. Below are a few ideas that might help replace some of the things we are missing until we can access them once more:
Re-frame your mindset, rather than “I can’t do anything” change this to an opportunity “I can finally focus on myself” or “I can learn a new skill or try a healthy new recipe”
Try to maintain a routine similar to your previous one, set alarms, stick to your usual meal times, adapt your exercise routine if necessary.
Avoid or reduce the amount of media coverage you follow if it becomes overwhelming, there is a lot of negativity in the media and on social media with everyone voicing their opinion, try to avoid this and listen to music or watch a film instead
Talk and Connect. Talk to anyone, friends, family, colleagues. If this doesn’t help, speak to your GP and see if speaking with a professional can help. Anything is worth a try right?
Take deep breaths, try some stretching or meditation
Eat Healthy, well balanced meals and stay hydrated
Avoid alcohol and drugs (contact us for alcohol reduction support)
Make some “Me” time and do things you enjoy that can help you unwind
A final word Remember, these are challenging times for everyone. It’s OK not to be OK. There is no quick fix, guidebook or set way that we can deal with the Covid-19 lockdown, what works for some won’t work for others so try to treat it as a learning experience and try using different coping mechanisms. We have never experienced times like these before and it is taking it’s toll on everyone in different ways. Take each day as it comes and look for the positives, I have found having a diary and writing down a positive each day has helped, when reading through it the other day I looked at over 30 positives I had found to reflect on to keep me going until normality or the new normal resumes once again. Men's Health and Well-Being is important no matter how old you are and is always important, not just during Men's Health Week.Remember, you are never alone and if you ever feel like you are, the helplines below can offer support. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/ If you would like help and support with you health and fitness goals check out http://bit.ly/GetStartedAchieve