Keeping it blunt- unfortunately, when stress becomes part of your life, your friends are not a priority. You need to think about your well-belling and focus on what is causing you stress and how to resolve it.
Maintaining friendships while going through stress, purely depends on you. Are you the type of person to take the stress out on others? Do you trust your friends? Once you’ve answered these questions, understand that your friends (if real friends) should either help you through your situation or allow you time to breathe and work it out for yourself. Your friends might have a big impact on how you handle your situation and might help you to understand it more.
Everyone reacts differently and your friends should understand how to approach you. When my friends are going for a tough time, depending on the personality I am dealing with, I could either say ‘let us talk about it’ or just give them space and check on them now and then. Your friends should respect your personality and work out the best way to approach you without coming across nosey or intrusive.
Sometimes it might be best for you to ‘ghost’ and make your friends aware you need time to work on you. If this is the case, your friendship should be strong enough to last. You don’t need to see or speak to your friends everyday/week to be labelled friends. If you need a week to yourself, your friends will be there once you’ve had time to do you.
As I said before, your friends might be able to help you through; whether they help to de-clutter your life or take the stress away from you. I have my go-to people and friends also come to me when they’re stressed or have an issue, and no matter how long it takes we will work it out together. Personally, over the recent weeks, I’ve been stressed over work and if I didn’t run on the treadmill and let my close friends know how I’m feeling I would have probably ended up having a breakdown.
To maintain friendships, think about how much you value each other and what friendship means to you.
The world is filled with many opinions, but the only opinion that matters in life is your own.
Daily on social media, I constantly see people shaming each other and talking about people they know nothing about. We all at times find ourselves voicing our opinions on something we see online but shaming someone or in some cases trolling is beyond unnecessary and too extreme. It’s scary to think that one rude comment can get 1000 likes whereas on the other end we have no idea how the person is taking that comment; their feelings are rarely taken into account. I’ve always had tough skin but I can’t say the same thing for other people. We all take criticism in different ways and not everyone can brush off comments. We all feel and think differently.
The main thing to remember is that no one knows the real you and no one knows you better than yourself. In terms of the negativity that people throw your way, it’s best to take everything with a pinch of salt. Nowadays it seems like everything we do is being watched and needs acknowledging. I personally post on Instagram and look at stories but I rarely scroll through other’s profiles because I don’t want to feel like I am not good enough or the need to change or as if my way of life isn’t good enough. That’s my method of keeping online negativity out of my life.
Whether its fashion, influencers or anything in the limelight, I don’t read too much into it. Social media sales lies and dreams. People want to be like the Instagram models and celebrities they see but we have no idea what is happening behind the scenes. To be successful or happy in life you don’t need to have the most desirable clothing or change who you are to seem cool to others. Just do you. I have my own style and my own way of life that works for me and it also shows my personality. I don’t need to know what people say or think about me because I’m not going to change me for anyone else. I actually like me. People who sit on a laptop or phone belittling and trolling likely to have their own insecurities. Shut down other peoples voices and start listening to your own.
Whether you tidy your bedroom or keep a diary, staying organised will help you stay at peace and arrange your thoughts.
When you enter a clean, tidy, Ikea looking room there’s an automatic sense of relaxation. That’s a feeling we should all aim to maintain. Having a messy room may be due to personal trait but it can also show that you have had enough or no longer take care of yourself.
Once in a few months, I grab a black bag and have a clear out. Sometimes I even change the layout of my bedroom, leaving a sense of tranquil. If you are depressed or like to spend a lot of time in your bedroom (like myself), having a clear out is the first stage to feeling refreshed and motivated. By having a spring clean we’re protecting our health by cleaning, leading to fresh air and a better night’s sleep; it gets us active and boosts motivation and best of all, we find things that were once lose and gain a sense of accomplishment and happiness.
Once your room is clean and tidy, you can work on finding your peace further. You may have more space to put out a yoga mat, purchase candles and flowers, add a whiteboard with sticky notes, organise items in boxes, whatever you like.
Having a diary or calendar is mentally great for staying organised. If you have low moods or anxiety the best thing you can do to declutter your brain is to write down your daily tasks or a list of what you need to complete throughout the month. The more you do this, the more it will reduce your stress. CBT believe its best to keep busy every day but personally, that’s not necessary. Sometimes we have so many going on that we just need a day or evening alone to just do nothing.
For the past few years, I’ve had a diary and it does all the remembering for me, resulting in me having time and space to think and not stress about what I should or should not be doing on certain days. Think about how you can declutter your life.
I love to travel. When I was at University I made a Bucket list and was adamant on going to Iceland after graduating. I didn’t care who with or how I just knew I deserved it after all the stress and hard work. So I went to Iceland a few months after graduating and loved it. For over 10 years now, I’ve always wanted to go to China. I still haven’t pursued that trip but I’m sure I’ve got enough time to make it.
Personally, I like to travel on average 3 times a year, even if its a little work trip. If I’m in a different country enjoying myself, it’s a holiday for me. A friend and I discovered we liked to travel a lot, we get along well and we’ve been travel buddies for years (she’s also my best friend which helps). Over the years we’ve discovered it’s better to travel as a couple instead of a group, to avoid hassle and drama. Having a travel buddy is important; travelling, in general, is important for your sanity and mental health. The bother of travelling to and from work, work itself, family, relationships, life, in general, can be a strain but taking time out, whether it’s 2 days or 2 weeks makes a massive difference.
If you prefer travelling alone or would like to, I believe that’s highly beneficial. When you are with someone else you need to come to an agreement on what you’re both going to do, where you’re staying, where to eat, but when you’re travelling alone, you just wake up, get ready and go. Not too long ago I travelled to Amsterdam alone; my first solo trip that didn’t involve work. I absolutely loved it. Due to always being extra organised I went with a list of everything I wanted to see, restaurants to try and booked a few tours; with an extra person, I don’t think I would have seen most the things I did.
Most people don’t like travelling alone due to fear of being alone, looking like an obvious tourist or being too embarrassed to eat alone, get lost alone or try and speak a different language and feel stupid. Don’t let these emotions stop you from accomplishing something so life-changing. You may have anxiety travelling alone (like I did with my very first work trip) but I promise you will come home with such confidence and want to do it again. I started off small and would advise that at the beginning before venturing out towards long haul destinations alone, but with your travel buddy go anywhere and everywhere.
This is a blog that I’ve wanted to write from the beginning but it’s hard to discuss especially when I myself am not a man and it is also hard to find men who want to express their feelings. I’ve waited for guys to come forward and share their stories or opinions but this topic still such a taboo even though it’s recently been bought more to light due to celebrity deaths, statements on TV and social media overall. According to Safeline “76% of suicides are committed by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35 in the UK” (www.safeline.org.uk – worth a read!). In addition, in the UK, 12.5% of men suffer from common mental health disorders (mentshealthforum.org.uk, 2017). These are drastic statistics; so why has men’s mental health only recently come to light in the last few years? Passed from generation to generation men have been told what their role in society is, how to feel, how to treat others, how to carry themselves but this has led to suppression and it becoming natural for women to be seen as the sensitive, insecure gender in comparison to men. This is not okay. Times are changing and we need to support each other and adapt to these changes. Mental health is a silent killer whether physically, mentally or emotionally and speaking openly about this is the first step to making an awareness.
Below are statements from brave men who wanted to come forward and share their experiences and opinions:
-“Men are solution-based animals, talking about our feelings rarely helps us resolve the traumas we are experiencing, we want a route to getting out of it. Men’s problems right now stem from a lack of a strong support network which provides us with opportunities to progress in the areas of our lives which we have neglected or are suffering”.
-“This blog is a good thing, honestly you need to try and get through to young kids. I’ve lost a few friends over the years and there’s no one to talk to. You don’t want to talk to family because they will worry and send you to live with your nan or something. You can’t go to any of these charities or organisations because as soon as you tell them you lost your friend to a stabbing it feels like they don’t understand. There needs to be help for young men out there”.
-“I think that Men, in general, need to be more honest about it and stop being so dismissive of it too – check up on your friends if they’re feeling down or acting unusual because it could be a lot worse than it seems on the surface. Side note – being from an Eastern European background our culture is very dismissive of men’s mental well-being and any signs of mental unrest is seen as weakness, and we’re usually told to ‘man up’, which more often than not worsens the problem more than it does solve it. And in our culture, mental health issues aren’t really recognised as real conditions but just ‘phases’”.
-“It’s something I personally struggled with for 6 years and I felt lost, angry, alone & very sad throughout my time with depression. You feel you can’t speak to anyone about this either that you’re afraid to or you think it will pass by itself, this is not the case speaking out about it with anyone not just a doctor or a therapist can help immensely. For me, my sister helped me throughout a lot of it. For me it wasn’t seeking a therapist it was speaking to my doctor and taking being advised to take Citalopram. This helped me a lot with all my issues I had. I also started at the Gym which I think personally really helps, it keeps your mind straight & focused, releases stress and motivates you; not just for me but I believe this helps for everyone generally regardless of depression. So if you are struggling with this and you have thought about seeking help please do so. So that we can fight these issues together. Don’t be afraid”.
–“Men are raised to focus on their physical health and foster attitudes that society accept as manly; many of which contribute to poor abilities to deal with problems of the mental variety”.
-“Going through depression as a man isn’t something that’s often spoken about because men are inherently seen as strong/unemotional beings in society. I grew up without a prominent father figure and was often told to not cry or feel sad because I’m supposed to be strong for my mother and my siblings, as I’m ‘the man of the house’, this phrase stuck with me as it held so much weight. To me the phrase ‘man of the house’ basically means in hat context ‘you can’t be sad’ it was hard to not feel some kind of way about that, ironically, I got down and with the pressure of being ‘man of the house’ my feelings were never brought up and put aside for a long time until I finally broke, there have been times I’ve really thought about ending it, though, with a few people supporting me I got through it. Hopefully, we can change how sensitive this topic is for men”.
Some reading the above its clear their views on the topic are very similar. Lack of support and the need to break gender stereotype. This is coming from guys that you would pass every day and not once think to have any kind of issues. They continue with life, socialise, date, go to work and carry on; this is proof that you never know who is suffering or which men in your life come under 12.5%.
As a society, we need to do better and understand that the black dog exists. To understand what I mean by the black dog I advise you to watch the video below, but there are many simple things we can all do. Break the taboo on mental health and get talking; a simple hug can go along way, look into the hug movement on Instagram, they are spreading awareness of the positivity from holding someone close. Sometimes I walk around London and see people giving out free hugs; hugging reduces stress, improves self-esteem and boosts Oxycontin levels (also known as the love hormone).
Check on your friends especially your strong one every now and then and ask if they’re okay, hold meaningful group chats and social gatherings. Maybe it’ll be nice for a group to chill occasionally and talk about life instead of going on a binge every Saturday night. Make use of the research and charities out there. So far in this blog I’ve referenced different websites/organisations, the information is out there and so is the help. I am also available. This is something I am passionate about and could speak on until the end of time; I have an open-door policy on life and can provide that confidentially support you need. No one should be made to feel alone; sometimes it’s hard to speak to people close to you due to embarrassment or judgement but I can assure you there’s nothing embarrassing about opening up, if anything its courageous and inspirational.
I could talk about the ‘treatments’ such as the different therapy, counselling and medications but that is another story and something best to hear about from your GP or a Mental Health Organisation directly. I got help on an off chance; I went to see my GP for a completely different reason, made a ‘throw away’ comment and she picked up on it straight away. The GP gave me the information booklet for SLaM IAPT; I didn’t know what it was until I went on the website and I wasn’t expecting much. I didn’t think the comment I made was that deep but she managed to see that everything wasn’t as okay as I was trying to make out. This just proves how important listening is. If you pick up on something someone says and you think, hmm that doesn’t sound right and you’re not comfortable asking or digging deeper, just point them in the right direction. GP’s aren’t just for prescribing medication and referring you to Hospital, they do provide advice and professional, confidentially assistance. As I said previously no one should be made to feel alone. This blog may be about Men’s mental health but we all need to work together to make sure our men are okay. Be a good support system, be a good friend, partner, neighbour because you never know how your comments or actions can affect someone.
Thank you to all the brave guys who shared their views and stories for this blog x