Wellness Hub June 2016 Men Vs stress Lucy E Cousins June 14, 2016 Share As winter starts to kick in, the cold weather, early sunsets and temptation to dive into potato-related comfort food can all add pressure to every day stressful situations. And these ongoing high levels of stress and stress-related anxiety can wreak havoc on our mental and physical health, especially in men. While we can’t often change particularly stressful situations, with a few simple steps it is possible to manage how our bodies and our minds cope with the effects of them. How stress affects men US research shows that men and women react differently when it comes to pressure, stress and anxiety. A team of researchers from Penn State University linked this variance back to (you guessed it) the time of the caveman. When stressful situations occurred thousands of years ago, they were generally life threatening and the male adrenal system started pumping so he could fight or run. Women, however, due to a slightly different release of chemicals and hormones would look to protect children and family. It’s this combination of reactions that allowed family groups to survive – most of the time. However, according to human behavior expert Dr Gail Gross, this male biological response is rarely needed these days: “Modern man deals mostly with emotional stresses instead of physical ones, though his body cannot discern the difference,” she explains. Stress-less solutions So how can men help reduce the effects of stress and anxiety? Swisse nutritionist Sherree Banh recommends starting with small but significant dietary changes. “Try to increase the amount of whole grains, leafy green vegetables and meat, such as turkey in the diet. These foods contain high levels of B vitamins, which are important for normal adrenal function and energy production to support stress and anxiety. And also aim to reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption.” As well as this, increasing Omega-3 levels by eating more fish is essential. “Omega-3 helps with supporting healthy mood balance during stressful times. For vegetarians, chia seeds are a great alternative.” Coping techniques Apart from nutrition, there are other ways blokes can manage both the physical and mental affects of stress and anxiety. We asked clinical psychologist Gemma Cribb, from Equilibrium Psychology, to explain more: “Men tend to release stress through physical activity and ‘escape activities’ to create a relaxing diversion.” So working with those natural tendencies, these are her tips for male stress management: Compartmentalise a to-do list and set clear boundaries around what tasks need to be done, and by when. Prioritise tasks in order of importance and schedule them so you can be mindful of stress-related avoidance. Assert what you need and say no if you have too much on at work and socially. Focus on the present moment and the task at hand. Don’t ruminate on past events or worry about future ones. Keep work at work, where possible. Make time for exercise and leisure, and self-care in terms of good nutrition and sleep, even if you feel you are too busy – the benefits will always out weigh the hassle.