2020 has been a turbulent year full of generation-defining events, not the least of which has been the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, America is still working to eliminate this disease, and recommendations from medical professionals are still geared toward keeping your distance, minimizing contact, and staying home as much as possible. If being closed off from others is beginning to take a toll on your mental health, you’re not weaker or less capable than other men: you’re completely normal.
At ZestED, we want to destigmatize mental health struggles for men whose quality of life is compromised by them, especially during a vulnerable period of social isolation. Here are a few ways you can take care of yourself and address your mental health as we continue to fight COVID-19 together:
Allow Yourself to Feel
Social stigma around displays of emotion often prevents men from being comfortable in their feelings. If you’re a man who’s been conditioned in a certain way, it can be very destabilizing to feel uncertain, lonely, sad or afraid for the future. It’s important for you and every man in your life to know that these feelings are not only valid, but completely normal -- in fact, it’s infinitely more harmful to bottle up your negative emotions than it is to express them to a therapist or trusted friend. Studies show that suppressing emotions can actually exacerbate them, leaving you feeling even worse than you would if you had been open and vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to take the first step and be honest with yourself about your feelings. It will then become easier to take the next step and confide in someone you love, or better yet, reach out to a therapist for remote virtual counseling.
Try to Maintain a Routine
Living in a state of social isolation can make it extremely difficult to keep your regular routine, especially if your employer has made the switch to working from home or if your children are still in virtual school. There’s nothing wrong with allowing for a little flexibility within extenuating circumstances; however, keeping your routine as normal as possible will help you maintain some essential elements of mental wellness, such as a consistent diet, a regular eating and sleeping schedule, and plenty of exercise on a regular basis. COVID-19 has posed a major obstacle for men whose usual exercise routine involves several weekly trips to the gym -- if this describes you, try to block out your usual gym time for some at-home alternatives. If you don’t have equipment at home, there are still plenty of exercises you can perform without putting yourself at risk by visiting the gym.
Even while getting together in large in-person groups has become difficult -- and even dangerous -- we’re fortunate to live in a time where technology can help us stay connected with one another. This is especially important for men, who are extremely susceptible to mental health struggles due to isolation. These struggles can include heightened symptoms of anxiety and depression, difficulty with substance addiction, and trouble managing anger. Isolation can even have physical consequences, increasing your risk of diabetes, hypertension, and even dementia. Gather the other men in your life and schedule some time to connect, whether in a small, COVID-safe group or an even safer Zoom call. You’ll all benefit from the time spent together.
Increased time at home also creates a great opportunity to take advantage of remote men’s health care at ZestED. Our Care Coordinators specialize in personalized, one-on-one care that is tailored to meet your individual needs and goals, including lifestyle guidance that can help you stay mentally and physically healthy during a period of isolation.
If you need mental and physical health support from a provider who understands your needs as a man, don’t hesitate to reach out for the care you deserve. Visit our website, reach out to our men’s health specialists, and Get ZestED today.