With everything that goes on in our lives, it’s important now more than ever to take care of our mental and emotional health. For some reason, men’s point of view about their health is often a negative one. It can lead us to being averse to taking care of our health. Society tells us to be tough, don’t show pain, push through the weakness, if you need help, that means you’re weak.
Studies have shown that men are less likely to seek professional help when injured or when they’re in a mentally unhealthy place, and are more likely to die of loneliness. But there are plenty of things you can do to stay on top of your overall health and well-being! Here are some simple ways that you can start to keep track of your own health.
Let’s get physical.
Let’s start with the obvious. The first thing to check is all of your physical health. We’re talking about the actual, tangible moving parts that make up your body. There are certain things you can do on your own to monitor and check yourself for irregularities. For most serious ailments and illnesses, early detection is key to recovery. So let’s get down to the bits and pieces of your body to keep at the top of your mind for a healthy life.
Touch your balls!
Checking for testicular health is one of the easiest and most important self-tests you can do. You probably go through the exact motions on a regular basis and don’t even know it! It’s an area in men’s health that many just don’t think about it. Hold your testicle between your thumb and fingers with both hands. Feel for any hard lumps, any changes in size, shape, or consistency with your pair down there. Each testicle should feel firm and relatively smooth. If one testicle is a little bigger than the other or hangs a little lower, don’t worry! That’s completely normal. By doing this monthly, you’ll be setting yourself up for early detection if any irregularities come up.
I can’t quite put my finger in it…
The second part of the body to be aware of for men is prostate health. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men. The prostate creates the fluid that protects the sperm. To keep an eye on your prostate health, always monitor the sensation you feel when you’re peeing. If you feel any pain or a burning sensation, difficulty or inconsistencies, erectile dysfunction, or even blood in the urine, that’s a sign that you should get yourself checked out. Never think to yourself “I’ll see if it goes away.” In these cases, go to the doctor immediately.
Love the skin you’re in.
Remember how I said prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men? Well, guess what’s first: skin! Besides sexual health, it’s important to take care of your largest organ. In Western cultures, it can make a guy seem soft if he decides to wear sunscreen or moisturizer. He can be labeled as effeminate for washing his hands too much or using different products when he showers. Don’t pay attention to these dated gender prejudices; they’ll only get in the way of maintaining proper men’s health. Using preventative measures such as sunscreen and moisturizer helps repair and stop damage to the skin, and investing in quality hygiene products promotes skin and scalp health, which can lead to a fuller head of hair, and healthier quality of life.
Listen to your heart.
A major health concern for men, and the number one health threat especially as they age, is cardiovascular health. This includes hardening and clogging of arteries, cholesterol levels, blood clots, heart-attacks, and the list goes on. The good news is, there are several steps you can take to strengthening that blood pumper! If you’re not very active, try to increase your physical activity by at least 30 minutes a day. Go to the doctor and have your cholesterol checked regularly. And of course, though it pains me to say this, it would be a good idea to avoid fried foods and saturated fats.
Mental health is key.
Men’s health isn’t just about keeping your body in shape. Especially with the current state of the world, being aware of changes in your mental health is of prime importance to your overall well-being.
Put on your thinking cap.
Now that the physical body is tuned up and ready to go, it’s important to check the mental machine. The statistics are shocking. Men make up only 30% of the people who seek professional mental help, whereas they are 3.5 more times likely to commit suicide than women. There is so much pressure on men to be tough, but in fact, what is needed is a safe space to unpack their feelings. It’s not just laying on a couch and talking about our parents anymore. There’s Touch Therapy, Music Therapy, Role Playing, Sleep Therapy, all sorts of ways to upkeep our mental health.
Fresh air, fresh mind.
Especially during this time, it’s important to get out of your daily routine. Freshen up your thought cycle and grease up those cogs that make your brain go ’round. Sometimes we get stuck in an unconscious rut, and it’s important to shake ourselves out of it. Go on a hike, travel somewhere for the weekend. Maybe take a break to meditate. Walking in nature for 20 minutes cleans stress hormones from the body and mind.
This includes letting out our problems. Men are more likely to bottle up their emotions, and not say how they feel. Societal pressure to be strong, independent, and pragmatic can push men to stay hushed about their struggles. This idea could come from all the way back to the notion of the ‘strong silent type’ days of John Wayne and Marlon Brando, but learning to practice saying how we feel when we feel it, will add to a healthy mental state.
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Men’s health isn’t just a single pill you can take to make everything better (although you should take your Omega-3’s, your calcium, and your Vitamin C and B12). We as men are fully rounded human beings, which calls for a fully rounded approach to making sure our health shines both on the outside and on the inside.
Lumi Park is a writer, foodie, and Capricorn, from the cornfields of Ohio. He once won a NYC bartending award, a Brooklyn-wide comic book Trivia Bowl, and went to nationals two years in a year for the sport of jump roping. He is oddly not competitive.