Mid life stress and anxiety in men
A lot of middle aged men are struggling. While they put on a brave face, they are secretly fighting with their own anxiety and stress. It is quite common for them to bottle these feelings instead of talking about them. We have spoken before about toxic masculinity and a perception men have of what a man should be and how he should behave. Part of this culture is not to express feelings. They feel there is still a stigma around it that it may show them as weak. Instead of talking about it, they hide their feelings and emotions. This stress leads to anxiety. When this anxiety builds, it can cause a man to become irritable and impatient. It can begin to interfere with their home life and they have knee jerk reactions to stressful situations. The longer they allow these feelings to build up, the worse it gets and that fuse gets shorter. They may struggle to contain these feelings and sooner rather than later, it can become an anger management problem and they lash out. So what stresses are they dealing with and what can they do about it?
By your thirties and forties you have likely been working for one of two decades. Maybe you are in the same career you started off with or maybe you have made a fresh start. Regardless of where you are on the ‘corporate ladder’ there are some common factors which are the main culprits of causing stress in the workplace:
- Low wages
- No appreciation or support from the workplace
- Not having access to the tools or resources needed to complete the job properly
- Clashing with co workers
- Feeling overworked with a large workload
- Having to work at nights and weekends during ‘your time’.
- Long hours
- Not enough work life balance
The list goes on. Often to combat this problem, it is around this time that we tend to change our career path. When you are a teenager, you don’t really know what it is you want to do for the rest of your life. It can take years to find out what it is that you really want to do. While it would be nice to love your job and look forward to going to work every day, the reality for a lot of people is that they are only in the job because they need money to live. When they are so unhappy at work, they change jobs thinking it is going to solve their problems. They feel if they are in a job they like, the stress will suddenly disappear….. until they realise that maybe the grass isn’t so green on the other side. In this new job, they still find themselves under pressure and stressed. Same problems, differently scenery. It would be nice to not have to work but the hard reality of life is that Jobs pay the bills, which brings us to one of the most major stress triggers.
Supporting a family
Quite a lot of middle aged men are either partnered with children or single with children. The traditional role of a male is to be the bread winner. Quite often they put them pressure on themselves to support their family. Regardless of if their partner stays home with the kids or goes out to work herself, the male still puts this pressure on themselves to be the main support system both financially and emotionally. Financially they feel they need to make enough money to keep the family afloat and ‘provide’ for them. Emotionally, they feel they need to be the strong one. They feel they need to support their partner and kids unconditionally which often means they are not supporting themselves. There can be a sense of failure or not being there in the way you want to be for your children.
They aren’t where they thought they would be
As we reach certain milestones with our age, we tend to reflect on our lives so far. Perhaps you are not where you thought you would be. When you were younger you may have set goals of what you wanted to achieve by the time you were 40. Maybe you are not in the career you wanted or in a management level. Maybe you are single and hoped to have found a partner by now. Men can also feel anxiety about not yet having children. While women tend to worry about their biological clock, men may feel they are running out of time in this area too. Maybe a relationship broke down and you are no longer with a partner. The family you thought you would have by now looks completely different in reality.
It is imperative that men learn about the signs of the anxiety and not just dismiss their feelings. Saying ‘Im just stressed’ is not talking about your feelings. It is probably easier to brush these feelings off than to confront them which is why they may feel hesitant to seek help. They don’t want to be labelled as 'having a mid life crisis'. These feelings are very real and cannot be masked. Often they turn to alcohol to ‘numb’ the feelings. We all know where excessive drinking and high emotions lead and it is never a good outcome.
This is when you need some help, but what do you do?
- Confide in a friend. Someone that will listen to you. They can be a member of the household, a friend or even someone at work. It is hard to put yourself in such a vulnerable state but it is important to talk.
- Mental health has a connection to physical health. Make sure you are eating a healthy balanced diet. Exercise is not only physically beneficial, but it can be mentally therapedic as well. Take the stress out on the weights machine or focus it on the treadmill.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. These are a coping mechanism and not a solution to your problems.
- Find a work life balance. Spend your time doing things you like with the people you love. Try to take a holiday every so often. This is not an option for everyone, so even a makeshift long weekend can do the trick.
- Get some sleep. How many hours of sleep are you really getting each night? Exhaustion can amplify feelings of stress and anxiety. It is recommended that the average adult get at least 8 hours of sleep a night.
- Switch off the mobile phone. Don’t bask in social media. It can be easy to compare your life against your friends on facebook. You see their happy pictures and status’s about how easy and wonderful life is for them. Remember that social media is all about perception. They are presenting the image that they want you to see. It is not real life. Don’t sleep with your phone under the pillow and check it when you can’t sleep, it does more harm than good.
- Be present with your family and friends. Spend quality time working on your bond and closeness with your family.
- Finally, seek professional help. There are many programs available that can assist you. Contact us today and we can help!
Remember, it is OK to not be OK. Your feelings matter and are important too. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of courage and a willingness to improve your life. Don’t delay. Start by talking to someone today and check in on your friends. They may be secretly struggling too.
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