Among the hundreds of other things that the pandemic has taught us is the fact that we all need support.
Not just physical and financial, but also emotional.
But even before the health crisis struck, there was increasing awareness of the pressure that men faced. The world was experiencing unemployment, suicide rates, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual violence, domestic abuse and depression on an unprecedented scale, with men bearing a large part of this burden.
What men also face is the pressure of having to conform to cultural and social stereotypes of what it is to be a “Man”.
There is a growing trend of men’s support groups emerging across the world to deal with the issues that men face.
Let’s look at some of these typical gender-related attitudes that society holds across geographies and cultures:
- Women are more “emotional” and express their feelings more frequently and more intensely than men
- Crying is more associated with women and “weakness”
- Expressing feelings is encouraged in girls while boys are taught to hold their feelings in
- Women share their feelings freely especially with other women
- Men are supposed to maintain a stoic silence when they face problems
- Women express a wider range of different emotions and nuanced feelings that men don’t understand
- Men are restricted from expressing or disclosing their intimate, innermost feelings
- Men are allowed to express anger, contempt and happiness, but not fear, anxiety or dependence
Given the restrictive and constrictive nature of the Mars and Venus stereotypes that society imposes on us, across different cultures, the social and emotional training of a male child begins at a very young age.
Emotion Expressions Are Learned in Childhood
Children are keen observers of the world around them, and learn to model or imitate behaviors according to what the adults encourage or discourage.
Though gender differences are absent in infancy, the social training is imbibed during the toddler or pre-schooler stage.
In Western cultures, especially, parents tend to discuss more emotional topics with their daughters rather than their sons.
Women are allowed to express anger and contempt mainly through words and facial expressions, while men can express these in physical terms.
As children grow, they carry these learnings into their adult lives and their interactions with peers.
The concepts of “masculinity” and “femininity” are socially learned and defined constructs. Gender responses are mainly normalized through social structures, parental attitudes, culture, interactions, context, and peer relationships.
The Man Box
Researcher Mark Greene and others have defined a dominant type of over emphasized masculinity as the “Man Box”
It describes behaviors, expectations and perceptions that are rigidly imposed by the social environment to define what is and what is not “manly behavior”.
Attributes that are considered “masculine” and worthy of the Man Box are:
This gives men the license to indulge in behaviors such as flirting, being tough, drinking to excessive, disruptive and aggressive behaviors, rule breaking, speeding, risky behaviors etc.
Any differences and violation of these perceptions of “manliness” are strictly policed by the peer group, and society in general, with mockery “Acting like a girl” “Manning Up” or “Not being man enough”.
There is also homophobia related policing of male emotional expression, along with racism and misogyny which are enforced through bullying and shaming.
In its extreme form, the Man Box exists to perpetuate the domination, exploitation and marginalization of women, transgenders and alternate sexual choices.
While a large number of men face the pressure to behave, think and feel in certain prescribed ways, the tide is slowly but surely turning in favor of becoming “human” rather than a gender stereotype.
From the Man Box to the emergence of men’s support groups has been a long, challenging and ultimately rewarding journey.
Getting Fit and Growing as a Man after 50
Men are trained from early childhood to follow habits of competition, ambition, opposing, rough and tough behaviors. These faulty and often toxic beliefs are destructive and emotionally repressive, leading to relationship breakdowns, loneliness, stress and depression in men.
As men cross the age of 50, there is a drop in testosterone levels. Some experts have termed this phase “male menopause”.
While this doesn’t strictly follow the pattern of the female menopausal changes, there are several similarities. Many men may experience:
- Energy drop
- Sadness and depression
- Sleep disturbances
- Erectile dysfunction
- Reduced libido
- Weight increase
- Difficulty in concentration
- Low self-esteem/confidence
- Lower bone density
- Low motivation
Maintaining fitness during this period can be challenging. Men are often at the peak of their careers at this stage. According to research, college educated, full-time working men’s wages continue to grow in their forties and usually peak in their 50s.
This leaves little time or inclination for health and fitness. However, this is also the stage when there are significant body changes. There is reduced muscle movement, and muscles begin to become less elastic, with decreased tone and mass.
As the body ages, the water content in the cells reduces from about 65% to 54% as you cross age 50.
Memory loss, higher levels of anxiety and stress may also begin to make their appearance.
Men at 50 may also be at risk of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and certain types of cancer.
Staying fit at this age involves:
- Paying attention to your diet
- Getting regular health exams done
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Quitting smoking if you do
- Ensuring that you get your full 7-8 hours of sleep
- Taking alcohol in moderation
- Developing a convenient, enjoyable and effective exercise routine
- Staying socially active
- Ensuring that you take your routine vaccinations and immunization procedures
Emotional and Psychological Support
Physical fitness and health are a major determiner of emotional health. However, while crossing the 40s and entering the 50s, there could be certain emotional and psychological issues that crop up.
Studies show that “gray divorce” (involving couples in their 50s) is on the rise in America and has almost doubled over the last decade. For those aged 65 and above, the rates have tripled. Aging Baby Boomers who have been married before face increasing marital instability in their subsequent relationships.
Gray divorces come with their own set of issues such as increased financial instability, and a deterioration in social life.
While both men and women seek professional help in terms of counseling and therapy, the numbers on the ground show that men tend to avoid counseling for emotional problems. More than 70% women opt for counseling for depression while the numbers for men stand at 60%.
Men are also less likely to take prescription medications for such issues. They avoid asking for professional help till it reaches crisis stage. The results can be devastating, ending in suicide or major mental health problems. Suicides among men is 3.5 times higher than women. Substance abuse is also more common among distressed males.
The main problem is that society expects men to be tougher, and more resilient. They develop higher tolerance for emotional distress, but since the issues are not dealt with, they’re merely suppressed or hidden.
Men are out of touch with their emotions and lack the vocabulary to express them freely. They may not be aware of the depth and extent of their grief, anxiety, stress, etc.
Boys are also taught that it’s important to be independent and not cling to others for help. Another issue is that of trust. Some studies have shown that men are less prone to trust than women. This means that men find it difficult to confide in others or even in their therapists.
Traditionally men (especially white) have always benefited from the political, social and economic order. But this also means increased competition, isolation and anxiety to “man up”.
With the rise of feminism, men feel threatened, unable to express themselves in the ways they’re used to, and are plagued by the feeling that they’ve lost the “privileges” they once had.
Support and Growth in the Golden Years
Many men find it embarrassing and humiliating to share the fact that they find themselves emotionally vulnerable.
In times of stress, anxiety and existential crisis, men’s deep-rooted social training kicks in and they prefer to either bottle it all up or express it in inappropriate ways such as anger, aggressiveness or substance abuse. Faulty social beliefs have made it difficult for men to openly seek emotional help.
Loneliness and isolation are becoming a serious issue in the developed world, with one study showing that more than 40% of men feel that they’re unable to confide in their friends about problems, and nearly 33% of men confessing that they have no friends at all.
In the typical male, there is a “Get over it” or “Deal with it” attitude that prevents a real analysis of the problem. Men quickly learn that displaying emotions in public tends to be viewed with mockery, contempt and shaming. Repressing emotions is considered noble, tough and more acceptable.
Therapy can also be quite an expensive proposition, with uncertain outcomes. There could be a long waiting list to get an appointment with a counselor or psychiatrist.
When there is a need for immediate help, men seldom want to burden their families, friends or co-workers. Men are also trained to be problem-solvers and there is immense pressure on them to handle problems quickly and effectively, and to eliminate problems.
This is where men’s support groups come in.
What Are Men’s Support Groups?
Typical men’s support groups comprise between 7-10 men who gather at regular intervals to share events of their daily lives, their emotions, apprehensions, positive feelings and innermost thoughts in a non-judgmental space.
They provide men with the opportunity to freely express themselves, and get support, advice, education, and take up new challenges for personal growth.
These groups may address issues such as
- Family issues
- Job and Career related problems
- Death, Grief
- Anger management
- Sexual issues
- Domestic abuse
- Alcoholism/Drug addiction
- Health and fitness
- Lifestyle diseases, Cancer or Serious illnesses
Important guidelines for these groups include:
- Commitment and regular attendance
- Respect for privacy and confidentiality
- Taking ownership/responsibility for feelings
- Attentive listening in the group
- Non-judgmental acknowledgment of another person’s expression
- Permission to pass or indicate unwillingness/lack of comfort in participate in the discussion
- Staying away from passing judgment and advise-giving
- Avoiding confrontational questioning
- Emotional honesty
- Providing a safe space for emotional expression
Benefits of Men’s Support Groups
Online discussion and support groups are also gaining ground and men can avail of the benefits from the privacy and comfort of their own homes.
A small-sized support group usually comprises people with similar backgrounds and life experiences. This means that they share the same kind of issues, anxieties, worries, problems of living and decision-making. They gain more self-acceptance, autonomy and control over their social environment. Often, men find a new purpose in life and gain new, valuable friendships.
A support group helps men to find a space where they can truly learn about themselves and how to be themselves.
It can be a place of rest, wellness and safety.
A men’s support group offers several important benefits:
- It reduces the feelings of isolation and loneliness
- Secure space to express inner feelings
- Group members stop feeling judged
- They learn to be more open and honest about their emotions
- They gain different perspectives and points of view about their problems
- Helps them to improve their anger management
- Improves coping skills
- Helps them feel more empowered
- Opens them up to newer ideas on education, society, culture
- Ensures privacy and boosts trust
- Develops mutually beneficial relationships
- Prevents the need for hasty and immediate problem solving
Finding the Right Support Group
On your part, it’s important to ask yourself whether you’re willing to be honest and open, and genuinely express your feelings, while ensuring that you’re not judgmental about others.
Look for groups located near you, so that you don’t miss meetings.
It’s wiser to choose a group that doesn’t charge fees.
Check out a group across a few meetings before you commit.
Avoid groups that are confrontational or encourage violence, abuse and anger in the name of openness.
Check if the group is affiliated/sponsored by a corporate.
Ensure that privacy and confidentiality are prioritized.
How to Improve Productivity and Return Your Wish to Study
What comes first to our minds when we speak of productive people? Maybe they are those heroes who can remain chipper for a long time, and when everyone wants to sleep, they are lending them energy. Probably yes, but not only this feature describes the productive ones. If you are a student, your primary wish would be to make constant progress, succeed in every subject and scope of life, and even have time to spend with friends to remain happy. It seems to be rather impossible concerning the fact that students are stuck on homework.
Moreover, there are a lot of counter-productive factors that we are not even able to determine consciously, and they become an inherent part of our life. Of course, motivation and willpower can be the means for defeating these factors, but there are a lot of things you have to pay attention to in advance. Therefore, what are the main steps to personal productivity, and how not to become bored in a few seconds? Find the answers in our article!
Step 1: Distinguish The Reasons Of Unproductiveness
If you are reading this text right now, you are surely in search of the secrets of being productive. It is obvious that your laziness or unwillingness to perform some tasks even if they are quite simple is caused by several determinants. One of the most global ones is our sweet friends. Their function is to entertain us and fill our free time with a lot of content. Yes, we are talking about electronic devices, such as smartphones, laptops, tablets. Of course, you may actively use them in your studying process to dwell upon ebooks, useful articles, etc. Nevertheless, social media in this case acts as our ruthless enemy. People are eager to watch and remember some silly things like funny videos or memes. Sooner or later, a temptation to watch more appears, and they become like drugs! Sounds a bit loud, but that’s true. Our modern life depends on our interaction with smartphones, and large companies want to keep your attention as long as it is possible.
This was one of the top reasons why we can be unproductive. Speaking of others, it depends on the general situation. For example, you study in a medical university and don’t sleep a lot because you are learning new material or writing paperwork. Of course, you could use a nursing essay writing service to complete the tasks on time, but insomnia is kind of a physical cause of unproductiveness. Sometimes even when we had fun with our mates, we told ourselves “I’m so delighted, and I don’t want to work right now!” As we said, it depends on the situation. Your aim is to sit and think of these reasons, recall all the moments when you didn’t want to study or found it rather hard. Identification of factors is a fundamental step to move towards another one.
Step 2: Create The Appropriate Atmosphere
If you are studying, your attention must be focused only on this activity in order to find the productiveness. What should your preparatory works consist of? First of all, remove all the attention distractions that can have a negative influence on your concentration. Put your smartphone in a box, or just don’t let it be in your sight. If your parents or other relatives are at home, ask them to be a bit quiet while you are studying. If you consider your house a complete comfort zone, change the place where you work. For instance, you can go to a cafe or library. Of course, some people find working in such establishments quite comfortable. In addition, if you want to stay at home, you can find the sounds of an exact environment to establish a temporary studying atmosphere.
Step 3: Study With Breaks
There are many examples when people studied a lot for their exams, and in conclusion, they failed to pass them. The problem is hidden behind the approach to the learning process. According to psychology studies, an average person can concentrate for only thirty minutes! It means that when we listen to a lecture for half an hour, we may perfectly memorize the information, and after this period of time, our brain will be tired. What is the solution? There is a special technique called the Pomodoro method. It is a great topic to research if you need to write paperwork and seek free analysis essay examples because it is both scientifically proven and pragmatic.
The principle of usage is rather simple. First of all, you have two hours for the whole working process. And you split this period into four equal parts (or as the author of this method calls them pomodoros). Each part consists of 25 working minutes. In general, you need to work for one hundred minutes. What about other free minutes? These are your break times when you must fully relax and do something that is not related to studying. Let’s say you need to work for more than two hours. Well, it is not a problem! After a full Pomodoro cycle, just have a bigger break for approximately 15-30 minutes. Then you can start studying again!
How to Refresh Your Creative Brain through Meditation at Work
Having a busy lifestyle means you are often bouncing from activity to activity without having time to cool down or get recharged. Self-care is the first thing that gets neglected due to a busy schedule. Activities like self-care are important because they help to refresh and recharge your battery and will help you to start your day fresh and renewed. To clear your mind from work stress, confusion, overthinking, worrying and indecision, meditation works very well.
Meditation is the best way to rejuvenate your mind and to relax your body. If you don’t care for your mind and body, then there’s a risk of falling into a stress-filled physical illness, also known as a psychosomatic illness.
So, if you want to delete stress from your life and want to refresh your creative brain, then read this article. Here, in this article, we have discussed some tips on how to refresh your brain through meditation.
Meditation is a form of well-being that has been practiced for centuries. In the beginning, it was meant to deepen one’s understanding of life. However, now it is not only a spiritual practice, it can be practical also. Meditation provides relief from stress and increases the mind-body connection. As a result, it helps to stimulate the activity of your creative mind. It is proven that meditation positively affects emotional health. It increases creativity, self-awareness, and patience by helping you to cope with your stress and anxiety. People frequently believe that meditation eliminates negative thoughts. But it helps to focus on your thoughts and reduce the overload.
Meditation and CBD
Merging meditation and CBD is now becoming a popular trend because the stress-relieving qualities of CBD and the calming properties of meditation complement each other. Meditation and CBD work hand-in-hand to achieve similar goals. CBD allows your body to relax. That enhances the practice of meditation, refreshing your mind. Consuming Lazarus Naturals CBD before meditation is like in the right direction. This combination will help you improve your overall mood, lessen anxiety, and will make you look at things more clearly. Clear-headedness is very essential for managing stress at work.
How to Meditate
There are many types of meditation to attain inner peace. The different forms of meditation are:
● Guided meditation
This is a type in which prudent mental images are used for relaxation. This form can also include sounds, smells, and textures.
● Mindfulness meditation
This increases awareness of breathing and body sensations.This method aids in the removal of negative thoughts as well as the reduction of distractions, allowing you to leave at the present moment.
● Mantra meditations
This form uses silent repetition of calming phrases and thoughts to improve focus and to prevent distraction.
● The transcendental meditation
This approach involves the recitation of sounds and words in a specific way to settle your body and mind.
Positive Effects of Refreshing Your Mind
Rumination is the process of replaying the same thoughts in your mind repeatedly. It can be harmful, so it’s important to clear your mind and eliminate negative practices to free yourself. Rumination creates anxiety and anxiety triggers a stress response that will remove all the joy from your life.
Along with all this, it can also diminish your creativity. According to a study, people who ruminate more at work are less creative.
What We Can Learn From Sports Teams That Never Win
There’s much to learn from successful sports teams. But that doesn’t mean that we should be blind to the qualities of the teams that don’t lift trophies and which have more or less no hope of doing so. Without them, there’d be no competition! For example, twenty-four teams are competing at the Euro Championship, but realistically, only six or seven have a shot of going all the way. The only people that will back the remaining teams to win will be those making the most of a free bet offer or the team’s actual supporters.
With all this in mind, we’re taking a look at what we could all learn from the sides who are, on the face of it, just making up the numbers, but who in reality are bringing so much more to their sport.
It’s the Journey
It’s a cliché to say that it’s the journey, not the destination, but like most clichés, it’s also true. After all, that is how they become clichés. The trophy-lifting element of sports only constitutes a small part of the overall sporting process. The story along the way is one that includes people coming together, figuring out problems, slowly improving, and eventually, for the losing teams, how to accept defeat. We shouldn’t dismiss these elements of the process — they are, in many ways, just as important as winning.
Competing Against Yourself
The casual viewer tends to watch sporting matches as two teams competing against each other. However, while that’s the primary plot of the match, there’s also a subplot, which is the team competing against itself. One of the beautiful lessons of professional sports is that you should always try to be better tomorrow than you were today. It’s not about going home with a trophy. It’s about fulfilling your potential, which is something that’s arguably just as important. If you’ve got no regrets, then there’s really not much about which to feel sad.
Moments to Cherish
For some teams, winning the Champions League is the pinnacle of their history. For other teams, playing against Manchester United at Old Trafford is an achievement. We’re all at different levels, and all have different resources and opportunities at our disposal. If you were an athlete who was told that they’d never make it, then running out onto a professional pitch just once would be satisfying. That would be your own version of climbing Everest.
It’s a Process
The teams that never win show us that it’s a journey to get anywhere. Even those sides that we categorise as eternal non-winners needed some time and hard work to get to their level. As outsiders, we can see their position as they stand now and can see the next level they need to reach. But we can also see how far they’ve come, too, and the vast number of teams that exist below their level. It’s a process to get to the top of anything: a mountain, a career, a league.
Nothing Comes Easy
Professional sports teams invest a lot of time, energy, and money, not to mention passion, into getting to where they are. And yet, they never win a trophy. What this can tell us is that in the world of professional sports, nothing comes easy. You can’t expect to win anything just because you turn up and work hard. The standard is too high for that. And that makes victories all the sweeter. It makes the achievements of the teams that do lift trophies each year, and over a sustained period, look all the more impressive.
Indeed, it’s only when a team that once won trophies falls off the cliff — and fails to get anywhere close to a trophy — that we recognise just how brilliant they were at the time. A classic example of this would be Manchester United’s glory years under Sir Alex Ferguson.
More Than a Sport
From a distance, we tend to think of sports teams as just that: a sports team, with players and coaching staff, that competes in sporting matches against other teams. But if you get a little closer, you’ll see that it’s much more than that. In many cases, the sporting club functions as a beacon for the community.
A case in point: Liverpool. Now, there’s a team that actually does win trophies, but in any case, even if they didn’t, they wouldn’t lose their importance in the city. The impact of their decline would be felt in their valuation and things like that. In working-class cities across the world, the local team functions as a community meeting spot, a non-religious church that brings the people together.
You Keep Going
There’s much to admire about sports teams, including their tenacity and endless pursuit of being the best that they can be. Indeed, if you didn’t have that attitude, then you wouldn’t get very far! Every now and again, a team breaks through and achieves something magnificent, which they wouldn’t have done if, at some point in their losing history, they decided to pack up their equipment and call it a day.
Leicester City are a classic example. They had many barren and uneventful years, but they kept on going, continued to work hard, and eventually did something that no one thought would ever happen: they won the Premier League. That offers a degree of hope to other teams. But as we’ve seen elsewhere, it’s really not all about the experience of winning!
They’re Still Winning
Finally, let’s think about this. Aren’t the teams that never win still winning, in a sense? It’s not hard to see how that would be the case. For starters, let’s think about a Premier League team. A side that consistently finished 15th or thereabouts would be deemed a failure, but only by Premier League standards. And that’s the best league in the world. By virtually every other metric, they’re among one of the best teams in the world. The 100-metre runner that finished last at the Olympics is still essentially one of the fastest humans that has ever lived.
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