Stress is one of those things that can sneak up on you and take a toll on your wellbeing. Here’s what to look for, and how to stay healthy.
If you only read one thing, make it this:
“If you’re burning the candle at both ends for something you’re really not enjoying, that can contribute to burnout.” – Dr Ginni Mansberg
Stress – it makes you good at your job, right? After all, if there were no pressure from deadlines, clients or management, you might not be as motivated to stay focused and get tasks done. But here’s the thing about stress: if it goes on too long, it can have a negative effect on your health, wellbeing, relationships and work. And in the long term, that prolonged stress is more likely to lead to depression in men than in women.
One of the largest causes of stress in men comes from work, from things like job insecurity, long hours, poor communication, work overload and high demands. Other causes include relationship issues, financial pressure, alcohol and drug misuse, loneliness and bereavement.
Know the signs
GP Dr Ginni Mansberg says when it comes to work, stress isn’t necessarily about the amount of time you spend on the job.
“I think men are often slow to recognise [the signs],” she says. “And it’s not proportional to the amount of time you spend doing your job – for example, if you’re working long hours but finding that work enjoyable and positively challenging, whereas if you’re burning the candle at both ends for something you’re really not enjoying, that can contribute to burnout.”
The signs of stress include:
- Reduced interest in sex
- Chest pain or a pounding heart
- Trouble sleeping
- Episodes of fast, shallow breathing and excessive sweating
- Getting colds more often
- Memory problems
- Feeling overwhelmed or frustrated
- Thinking negatively.
What to do
Dr Mansberg says staying well will help you make sure stress doesn’t become problematic.
“You need to prioritise your lifestyle,” she says. “Just because when you were 19 you could eat whatever you wanted and not put on weight, it doesn’t mean that you can keep eating rubbish and not do any exercise and still expect to be healthy. The other thing is: are you drinking too much? If it’s been a while since you’ve had an alcohol-free day, it’s probably worth thinking about that.”
Maintaining relationships is also important, she says, since social isolation and loneliness can be risk factors for mental health conditions.
“Men are often not good at connection with other men and with women, so they often have a façade up. They don’t relax and just be themselves, and just let people see them as they are,” she says.
If you are struggling with stress, speak to your GP or a counsellor – especially if the stress is causing anxiety or depression. You can also call Lifeline on 13 11 14 24/7 or chat to them online between 7pm and midnight AEST, 7 days a week here.