The focus for Men’s Health Week this year is the internet and the harmful effects it can have on men’s health.
Joshua Parker and Antony Prentice shares their thoughts around Men’s Health, how they keep themselves fit and the impact the internet has had on them, from both a positive and negative side.
Men’s health is an important topic that up until recent years was often overlooked in Society. It is a topic that reaches far beyond demolishing a takeaway and knocking back 4 pints after the football in exchange for some burpees and a 3-mile run. How we view men’s health has evolved. Mental Wellness, stress management and simply being comfortable enough to speak to a mate are all fundamental to our wellbeing.
Of course, monitoring the consumption of food is crucial for maintaining a well-balanced diet and preventing various health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. But in this technological era of humanity, it is not only the consumption of food that should be monitored when it comes to our health but the consumption of information.
What are the risks from constantly scrolling?
We are in an age where anything we want is, via the internet, within our virtual grasp. With a few taps, you can log on to one of the key many social media accounts and go to town. W Clement Stone once said, “We are a product of our environment” and as our virtual environment is forever expanding, so are the risks we face when we scroll.
From toxic masculinity telling us it is not ok to feel feelings, to exposure to the 0.1% of gym users that are extreme athletes causing us to become obsessed with an unattainable image of perfection. It’s important to know where to focus your attention and how to find a comfortable balance.
Men should also pay attention to their mental health. Reading literature and social media can be a great, to learn about mental health and wellness. We can understand the importance of self-care, how to manage stress, and even become inspired to reach new heights of self-improvement.
However, too much of anything can be bad for your health and even this can become an obsession. It’s important to note there are often two sides to the coin of self-improvement. While there is nothing wrong with setting ambitious goals and working hard to achieve them, it’s equally important to recognise when you’re pushing yourself too hard or becoming obsessed with an unattainable image of perfection.
As someone who has the all-or-nothing personality type, I can attest to the fact it can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, this drive can lead to great successes and accomplishments. On the other hand, if taken too far, it can lead to burnout and negative mental health outcomes. Training 6 days a week in the gym meant I became incredibly obsessed with my body. Focussing solely on my career led me to lose friends through a lack of social commitment. There is always a give and take.
Setting achievable goals
Setting achievable goals and embracing challenges can help to expand your comfort zone and build resilience. This can help you grow both as an individual and in your relationships with others. Self-care should be a priority, but it should not be at the cost of your mental and physical health or your overall well-being and remember. There is no such thing as perfection! There is always a road to travel!
Ultimately, men’s health is about finding a balance that works for you as an individual. It is about being confident and comfortable with yourself while also working towards longevity by keeping the mind and body active and the soul nourished with good deeds and experiences.
Charlotte has shared 6 great tips for eating to support your mental health.
If you too, find the balance challenging and setting your own personal boundaries when it comes to your health, there are support charities available. Also, do not be afraid to reach out to a trusted friend. The power of talking about it is vital to making personal improvements.
Modern working life for me can often mean a lot of screen time, with spreadsheets, video calls and the ever-present mobile phone. During the misery of the Covid restrictions my life was becoming increasingly dominated by screens, with more remote working, an increased habit of “doom scrolling” through the news and at the same time less opportunity and less interest in exercising. It impacted my weight a bit but more worryingly and obviously it had started to have a big negative impact on my mental wellbeing.
Realising the issue, I changed my habits and feel a big difference for it. When I was younger, I focused on keeping fit mostly due to vanity. Nowadays it is far more about my sanity, and I have no doubt that there is a positive link between exercise and improved mental health. It helps me with sleeping better, making better food choices, managing stress and gives me time away from work and the distractions of screens.
I’ve regained my love of walking as sadly my knees no longer share my previous passion for running! Most days start with an early morning walk (usually without my mobile phone) which not only burns a few calories but also helps me get my thoughts straight before the day ahead. I increasingly opt to walk between meetings rather than take the tube or bus, giving me time outdoors and time to think, plus a break from a screen.
I also exercise regularly with a variety of different gym classes. For this to work well for me I need both the discipline of scheduling an exercise class in my diary (just like I do for a meeting) as well as a good variety of different classes (from boxing, circuits, weights, spin classes, pilates, yoga and even legs, bums, and tums!) so that it doesn’t become boring for me and I get to meet lots of different people away from the work setting.
Tech has enabled us to work far more efficiently and effectively in so many ways but personally it doesn’t give me anywhere near the same buzz as going for a nice stroll outdoors or building up a sweat in the gym!