June 11-17 is National Men’s Health Week and financial stress tops the charts in “stress factors” for a majority of men. This shouldn’t be too surprising as several of my recent posts have focused on organizations stripping their workforces to the bone during the Great Recession.
Many breadwinners, including women, have been dealt severe blows with job losses and job instability. Those who did survive the downturn have seen pay cuts and stagnant wages for the last 2-3 years and hemoraging retirement accounts. When the time came to send babies to college, the money just wasn’t there. This reality has been very hard on the honorable man.
Stress plays such a big role in men’s lives that they have seen dramatic weight gains over the past several years. According to a recent survey conducted by Aviva USA in conjunction with the Mayo Clinic, the relationship between stress and weight gain go hand in hand among U.S. males. With the negative impact of weight gain combined with high levels of anxiety, men need to learn to melt stress in order to reduce cardiovascular disease and other ailments. Here are the findings in the rest of the survey regarding the state of male stress:
- 34 percent of men said their financial situation was their top stress factor
- 17 percent reported family and relationship issues were contributing to stress
- 12 percent said the uncertainty over job stability
- 10 percent stated the fast pace of life
- 8 percent said their overall health was a stress factor
I found it interesting to note; however, that although men stated finances as being their major stress point, they rated work-related stress as fairly low. Perhaps men have learned, “If you are not strong enough, there’s the door,” from their employers for too long now and are coming to work in full armor because workforce competition favors the warrior? In my view, the survey didn’t dig deep enough into the emotional insights of stress because working harder does not make an individual smarter or more productive. Such behavior produces stress and it is much easier to point to an outer trapping than inner forces.
Dr. Philip Hagen, medical director of Mayo Clinic Embody Health and vice chair of the Division of Preventive and Occupational Medicine at Mayo Clinic stated, “Men overall described themselves as being in good health, while at the same time reporting health risk factors, such as weight gain and high levels of stress. Studies have found that, on average, men tend to push off doctor visits longer than women, often avoiding going to the doctor until a major health problem arises.”
So with risk factors of stress and weight gain, men need to realize that they may not be such a “picture of health” after all. Although you can’t entirely remove anxiety from stressful situations, there are ways to manage these situations so stress is reduced. For example, our introverted executive male coaching clients who express that stress is affecting their leadership performance have learned the coping strategies to melt this anxiety remarkably fast.
Managing what is in your control removes the dark clouds of worry and stress from your mind so solutions to compelling issues can be found. Here are 3 steps to reduce stress in the workplace to regain your health:
- Recognize burnout. According to Michael Leiter, PHD, professor of psychology at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, “If you can’t restore your energy or resolve your values conflict with your work, you feel exhausted, cynical, and discouraged–the hallmarks of burnout. The key is whether or not you can replenish your energy when you get tired.
- Restore your energy. Find the activity that renews your vitality. Whether it is getting a full 8 hours of sleep, playing a round of golf on Saturday mornings, or getting out into nature on a regular basis, don’t give up the activity that keeps you invigorated. Giving up activities you enjoy most leads to resentment and increased stress.
- Exercise and diet. We have all heard it time and again, exercise and diet can make or break your health and longevity. Get out for a walk after dinner and pass up that extra donut sitting on the break room table. Your body will begin to feel renewed and your arteries will thank you.
Often when people are so stressed their ability to think creatively is minimized resulting in lost opportunities. It holds you back and creates a “tunnel vision” effect on problem solving. Manage what you can control in stressful situations… and you begin to uncover solutions to removing stress from your life.
Copyright TIGERS Success Series
By Dianne Crampton
Dianne Crampton is the Founder of TIGERS Success Series. She is the leader in building successful, quality-focused and cooperative team culture communities. As a thought leader in the team culture movement, she has been published by Barrett Koehler, Pfeiffer (an inprint of John Wiley & Sons) and Three Creeks. Her latest work, TIGERS Amont Us: Winning Business Team Cultures and Why They Thrive has received international acclaim. Nominated by Merrill Lynch for Inc. Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for a team culture change system that helps leaders bring about desired team culture change remarkably fast, she certifies and licenses consultants, facilitators and HR leaders to use the proven TIGERS team culture system within their own organization with measurable success. TIGERS helps leaders build and improve trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success with in teams which results in a dyanmic work environment that attracts and retains very talented, quality-focused people.