The 4 Essential Practices of Healthy Men

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You don’t have to scratch very far below the surface in a lot of men’s lives to find a tremendous amount of turmoil, suffering, and / or poor health.

Juggling our work, children, partner (or partners!!!!), health, hobbies, home, money, and friends, is it any wonder we are dropping balls? We aren’t taught the fundamental skills for life at school. We, very often, are lost in the complexity of modern day life.

The following statistics are a snapshot of the current state of men’s ill-health:

  • Men’s life expectancy is 5 years less than women’s (79 and 84 respectively).
  • Men die of all of the 15 leading causes of death more frequently than women (including heart disease, cancer and strokes).
  • There are almost 7 suicides per day in Australia, 5 of which are by men.
  • 1 in 8 Australian men are expected to experience a mood disorder in their lifetime.
  • 66% of divorces are initiated by women.
  • Men are the perpetrators of domestic violence in approximately two thirds of cases.
  • Men are the victims of domestic violence in approximately one third of all cases.
  • Men are 4 times more likely to be the victim of violent crime.
  • 7% of people sleep rough each night are men.
  • Men make up 93% of the prison population.

Are these statistics symptomatic of the incomplete versions of masculinity that boys / men are currently socialised in?

Or in other words, are we equipping boys (and are men equipping themselves) with the necessary skills to help them navigate their way through the up’s and downs that life inevitably throws at them?

Men are notorious for making poorer decisions and choices when it comes to all aspects of their health (physical, mental / emotional, relational, systems).

Below I have distilled the most potent practices a man can engage in, from each of the major aspects of his life (see below), that will give him the most traction for his health, or in other words – Give him the most bang for his buck.

We will now take a closer look at the major aspects of a man’s life, and get to know the map that will guide the decision behind the 4 practices that I have been chosen to supercharge your health.

So let’s take a look at these 4 aspects now.

  • Physical / Actions
  • Mental / Emotional
  • Relational / Cultural
  • Systems / Processes

Men's Health Sydney

So let’s unpack the practices that will quite literally change your life, and transform your health.

PHYSICAL / ACTIONS PRACTICE

Move your Body

I don’t care what you do, just move your body. Bike riding, tennis, walking, or going to the gym – it really doesn’t matter too much so long as you engage in your chosen activity on a regular basis (2-3 times per week or more).

My exercise of choice is yoga. I find it gives me the biggest “bang for my buck” meaning, that it helps my flexibility, mobility, and strength. Not bad for one practice. It also helps to calm my mind and settle my emotional state. I would highly recommend it but I also understand that it’s not for everyone. Choose something that you enjoy and that you feel has a positive impact on your physical, and mental / emotional well-being.

Man Up tips for Movement:

  • Find an activity that you enjoy.
  • Engage in it at least 2-3 times per week.
  • Make sure it lasts for a between 20-50 minutes.

MENTAL / EMOTIONAL PRACTICE

Spend time Alone and in Silence

Regular periods of silence, for a man, will improve his self-awareness, build his resilience, and help clear all of the distractions that keep him from living an authentic and deeply fulfilling life. It’s not always easy to find the time and space you’ll need to take regular periods of silence, but part of stepping into more complete versions of the masculine will require you to focus on your own needs in order to help other people fulfill theirs.

Begin with short periods of silence. 10-15mins, 1-2 times per week is fine. Find a place where there are no distractions. Cafes and public transport are not good places for silence. Nature, your garden, and whilst driving will give you the kind of peace you need. No phone, no radio, or distractions of any kind. Just you and yourself.

Find something that you enjoy that will have the same effect on you. Meditation, journaling, gardening, sport, mountain climbing are all ways we can reconnect with ourselves, experience deep relaxation, and gain some perspective in our lives.

This kind of silence can be incredibly challenging for men who aren’t used to it. We fill our lives with noise and distractions – and sometimes for good reason. We often create chaos in our lives to help prevent our emotional “baggage” from surfacing. Little do we know, that our emotional “baggage” drives our behaviour, whether we distract our self from it or not.

 Man Up tips for Silence:

  • Aim for small bouts of silence to start.
  • Getting out into nature is a great way to experience silence.
  • Aim to do it consistently and increase the time spent in silence.

RELATIONAL / CULTURAL PRACTICE

Let’s face it, it’s not a move we make too often as men when we need to share something that’s troubling us. We’d rather retreat to our cave (mind) and try to work through our challenges on our own. I can tell you from experience that this is not the best move we can make in a time of crisis. The old saying goes “a problem shared is a problem halved” and once you get into the swing of opening up and sharing your challenges in life, you’ll move through your problems a lot quicker.

So how do we do this?

As men we generally tend to have lots of mates in our life. The kind of men that we go to the pub with and banter with usually about one, if not all, of these 5 male conversation crutches:

  • Sport
  • Technology
  • Work
  • Women (as sex objects)
  • Weather

There’s nothing wrong with this and at some points a good banter session down the pub can do wonders for our stress levels, but tend to just distract us from them, rather than solve them. The problem comes when we only have this in our life and we don’t have anyone that we can share and solve our challenges, fears and worries with.My recommendation is to find one of your mates (if none of them are appropriate then find someone new) who can become a friend.

Sometimes another set of eyes on a problem, especially one that’s occurring inside of your intimate relationship, can be exactly what’s needed to help move you through the problem.

If you can’t find a suitable man, then you might need a men’s group. A good men’s group will provide the kind of non judgmental environment and support you need to talk about what’s going on for you in your life.

Man Up tips for relational practice:

  • Open up and start to talk about your challenges in life.
  • See vulnerability as a strength not a weakness.
  • Find the right person for the job (friend, therapist)
  • Join a men’s group

SYSTEMS / PROCESSES PRACTICE

We have been evolving for millions of years now and for almost all of the time we have spent it in nature. As men we now spend most of our time in offices or at home couped up amongst concrete and electronic devises. Our bodies are basically the same as they were a 20,000 years ago and beyond and they are hardwired to be surrounded by nature which has numerous health benefits backed up by scientific research.

  • Research has shown that prisoners whose cells overlooked farmland and trees had 24 per cent fewer sick visits than those in cells facing the prison yard.
  • A ten-year comparative study of post-operative patients found hospital stays for patients with tree views was significantly shorter than those without. They also required fewer painkillers, used less medication, and nursing staff reported fewer negative evaluation comments in the medical record.

For millions of years we have had an intimate connection with the planet through our feet which has come to an abrupt end due to insulated footwear. There

is a vast amount of scientific research proving the benefits of being in nature barefooted. Our nervous systems respond by unwinding and relaxing. You may have experienced this when get out of the city for the weekend and you are able to unwind much quicker than if you stayed at home. Your breathing slows and deepens and you can feel a sense of calm pervading your body.

Man Up tips for Systems and Processes practice:

  • Get out into nature at least 3 x per week.
  • Make every visit at least 30mins.
  • Try going barefoot to get the ultimate benefit.
  • Make at least one of your exercise sessions an outdoor session.
  • Take lunch in the park during the week.

If you are time poor, then try to combine all 4 practices into 1. Go for a walk in nature with a friend, and talk about your emotional challenges.

So there you have it. 4 practices that scientific studies have proven, supercharge your health and evolution.

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