Men Often Hide Their Stress: Look for Tell-Tale Signs
When men are under a lot of stress they tend to hide it away. Some men find it hard to acknowledge that they cannot handle ‘stuff’. So even when assistance is offered they often decline. Others thrive on stress. They see it as productive and problem solving and they seek it out if life becomes a bit too passive.
Whilst men may deal with stress in different ways they do it in a way which often means they do not openly communicate to others they are in trouble. Some may isolate themselves; others may avoid certain situations. Some may increase their physical activity thereby releasing built-up tension. Some may blame other people for their behaviour. Some hide their stress by creating more problems. This can be a way of not having to face the stress they feel from the issues they already have. As stress is a form of a lack of control over something, creating stress can give the impression of getting control back. This is often an illusion.
Many men who come for therapy are concerned about their anger. They can’t seem to understand why they get so angry so quickly and take it out on those closest to them. Sometimes this anger can lead to physical or psychological abuse. When we take a closer look it often emerges that there has been a pattern where their anger has influenced their behaviour. And this can drive people away.
I try and explain to my clients that as well as potentially damaging our relationships, chronic stress can have a negative effect upon the brain – a fact which is often overlooked. Studies have shown it can result in the brain shrinking – thereby leading to a variety of mental health problems including anxiety, depression, excessive guilt and worry.
Even low levels of stress may cause significant changes in the brain over time. If we suffer from chronic stress it is important that we are mindful of the demands we make of ourselves.
The good news is that we can take steps to reduce chronic stress levels and protect our brains and our emotional wellbeing. Engaging in stress reduction techniques such as meditation and regular exercise helps, as well as maintaining a supportive social network. Doing something that pleases you is also beneficial.
Talking to someone has also been shown to help us feel less alone, lost and more connected to others.
So, let’s protect our health by learning effective stress management techniques. Feed your brain with a well-balanced diet. Get a physical check-up if you are concerned about your health. Above all, take care of yourself and understand the damage chronic stress can do. Your brain is hidden away but it manages all of you. Look after it.