Each year, International Men’s Health Week is celebrated in mid-June. This year, it’s from June 14-20. The goal is to increase awareness about men’s health issues around the world and to focus on the needs of men, boys and families.
The past year has been a challenging one for many people due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety and depression during the pandemic. This Men’s Health Week is a great time to remember to focus on both physical and mental health, especially since the two are connected. For example, healthy physical behaviors can help improve your mental health, too.
Stress and your health
For future dads-to-be, having good mental health is particularly important. Some research has shown that dads-to-be are at greater risk for depression if they feel stressed or are in poor health when their partner is pregnant. Lowering your stress can help you:
- Have healthier sperm, which may help you get your partner pregnant. Sperm is what fertilizes your partner’s egg to get her pregnant.
- Sleep better
- Stick better to a healthier lifestyle that includes eating healthy and staying away from smoking, alcohol and drugs.
- Be less likely to get sick
Coping with stress
So how can you cope with stress and take steps to improve both physical and mental health? Here are a few tips for men, dads and dads-to-be.
- Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can help you feel better, move better and sleep better. It can reduce your risk for physical health problems and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Pick physical activities you enjoy to make exercising more fun.
- Get to a healthy weight. Being at a healthy weight helps the mind and body and reduces the risk of health problems. The key to getting to a healthy weight isn’t about following the latest diet fads. It’s more about creating a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity.
- Try meditation. Meditation is a simple, fast way to help you relax and reduce stress. It can bring you a sense of calm and balance that benefits your overall health. Meditation can be as easy as repeating a calming word in your mind, or quietly focusing on the flow of your breath.
- Get enough sleep. Getting good sleep can lower your risk for health problems, reduce stress and improve your mood. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of good sleep each night. Keep your bedroom dark and quiet to help you get good sleep. And try sticking to a sleep schedule. This means going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Try not to be in front of a screen, such as your phone or tablet, at least 2 hours before bed.
- Limit alcohol and avoid tobacco and substance use. Drinking too much alcohol and using drugs can cause many health issues, including infertility in men. Smoking is also harmful to your health. Plus, a pregnant person who is around second-hand smoke has a 20 percent higher chance of giving birth to a baby with low birthweight. If you need help to quit smoking, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). If you need help to stop using alcohol or drugs, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) Treatment Services Locator, or call 1-800-662-4357.
- Get your annual checkups, vaccinations and screenings. Regular checkups are important for all men. For future dads-to-be, getting a preconception checkup has benefits for your physical and emotional health. And getting screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can help protect your partner and your baby. Make sure you are up to date with all your vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your provider about your reproductive history and your family health history. Your reproductive history is a record of any pregnancies or problems with pregnancy that you or your partner have had. Your family health history is a record of any health conditions and treatments that you, your partner and everyone in both of your families have had.
- Make time to unwind and relax. Do something you enjoy each day. For example, listening to music can reduce muscle tension and decrease the body’s stress response.
- Connect with others. Seek out friends and loved ones who can give you support and encouragement. If your partner is pregnant, it’s especially important to have the support of others as you prepare for the many changes that a new baby brings.
- Get help if you need it. Everyone feels stress or anxiety sometimes. But if these feelings don’t go away or they interfere with your everyday life, talk to your healthcare provider. Or contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at 1-800-950-6264. You can also text “NAMI” to 741741 for 24/7 confidential, free crisis counseling.