By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
Men often like to project an image of imperturbability. However, the truth is that men, particularly fathers, are subject to a wide range of stressors. It could be struggling to find a good work/life balance where you’re able to spend time with your kids during their formative years. It could be pressure to be the breadwinner. Whatever the case, high-stress levels will negatively impact your health and quality of life. The good news is that simple stress management techniques coupled with a few life changes can have a profound impact.
Many men don’t realize just how stressed they are, or the impact that stress is having on their life. Knowing the signs of stress can help you pinpoint what’s going on before it all goes sideways. Some of the most critical signs of stress to watch for include:
For more detail about these and other symptoms of stress, check out Healthline’s rundown.
While quite a few techniques can help you address your stress and improve your quality of life, some are more important than others. The following techniques should be at the top of your list.
Good sleep is the foundation of good health. It also helps you fight back against the damaging consequences of stress by giving your body time to heal and regenerate. What do you do when you can’t get the sleep that you need, though? Check out these tips for sleeping better, for starters. You might also find that molecule cooling bed sheets can help—they’re particularly useful if you find yourself sweating in the middle of the night.
Another of the most vital techniques for stress management is to make sure that you’re getting good nutrition. A balanced diet is essential—if you’re eating too much red meat, too much saturated fat, or not eating at the right times of day, your body won’t relax. The food you eat provides your body with the nutrients and minerals needed for good physical and mental health. Of course, everyone’s nutrition needs vary, so follow these nutrition tips to help you find what works for you.
It’s not just about getting the right nutrients, though. You also need to pay attention to when you eat. For example, a big meal close to bedtime is going to affect your sleep, which will, in turn, affect your stress levels. Be smart when it comes to what and when you eat and realize that everything is interconnected.
Stress can create negative cyclic experiences in your life. You need to pay the bills, so you double-down on work, which can lead to stress. That leads to less time with your family, which leads to more stress. That stress can lead to yet other issues, like health problems, bedroom problems, and more. Break the cycle by making time for family talk regularly. Pick a day of the week and set the evening hours aside for just family time. That means no TV and no one shutting themselves away from the rest of the family. Have a family dinner, play some board games or card games, and engage with one another. Remember that your family is what matters most.
Sometimes life just moves so fast that you may feel like your interests are being left by the wayside. You may feel like there’s just no time for anything but go, go, go. That can be incredibly stressful, but you can break the habit. One of the most important stress management techniques is to make time for yourself. Set aside a few minutes in the morning or evening to meditate or to read a book, for instance. Even just 10 or 15 minutes of alone time a day can help you reconnect with yourself and de-stress.
Nothing beats stress (and its effects on the body) as well as exercising every day. It can be something simple like going for a daily walk, or you might want to sign up for a gym membership. Find what’s right for you, whether that’s the best cardio exercise or some endurance training. Whatever the case, exercise has been shown to reduce cortisol levels in the body and release feel-good endorphins that elevate your mood and help you feel better.
It’s natural to assume that all stress is bad. That’s not the case. Stress can be a positive thing in your life—it’s the overload that is the problem. There’s also the question of type. For instance, when you’re fully engaged with something that matters to you, your stress changes from distress to eustress. Eustress versus distress can reduce cortisol levels, eliminate negative symptoms, and even lead to a sense of joy.
Ultimately, fathers need to learn how to manage stress—not just for their sakes, but for their families. Over time, stress takes a toll on your emotional and physical health. Stop and listen to your body. Notice early warning signs of stress, such as irritability and tension in your shoulders and neck, grinding your teeth, or clenching your hands into fists.
Use healthy techniques for stress management, such as exercise, meditation, or massage. Talk to your family, spend time together, and make time for yourself, as well. Learn to cope with and reduce the amount of stress in your life and you will feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally.