No singalongs. No awkward group hugs. No soothing ocean noises. Just real man-to-man conversation.
Loneliness comes in many forms. A bit like this new craze of artisan doughnuts. And men experience loneliness more than women. It is not just guys living alone who experience loneliness, though many do. Many men living at home with their partner and children experience loneliness.
A majority of us have to work hard to ensure our family is provided for, and this means making sacrifices – basically, we can’t catch up with our mates like we did when we were younger.
However, that connection with our mates was critical to our wellbeing, both our physical and emotional wellbeing. Guys need that opportunity to chat, to connect with mates and share our experiences around the occasional doughnut.
We DIY just about everything these days. Like DIY beer and my personal favourite, DIY shoe resoling. My DIY Health section has a heap of suggestions about ways to connect with others. Here is a recap on a few of the best ones:
- Community Group – You’ll be surprised just how good you can feel when you give back to your community. Whether it’s joining Rotary, the Lions Club, or manning the BBQ at the local school fete, connecting with the community has really positive effects on your mental wellbeing and BBQ skills.
- Mates’ night out – A boys’ night is no longer just about getting boozed up with mates. It’s about bonding, talking about the stuff that’s bugging you and getting away from the stress of life.
- Help another guy with a problem – You have somewhere between 20 to 65 years of man experience. Why not put all that pent-up wisdom to use by sharing with someone else who needs help?
And any recreational group activity will provide you the space and time to connect with others. So read through the rest of this stuff, and then head back over DIY Health
A great way to get you and your family involved in recreational pursuits is through a sporting club registered with Good Sports.
Good Sports clubs work collaboratively to make community sporting clubs healthier and safer places, through
- promoting a culture of responsible drinking in community sporting clubs
- reducing alcohol-related problems such as aggression and drink driving
- encouraging club members to take action against depression and anxiety if they are experiencing the signs and symptoms
- increasing the financial viability and positive social impact of sporting clubs in their communities
Good Sports is working with more than 5,000 clubs across 72 different sports throughout Australia with around 60 additional clubs joining the program each month. With an average of over 250 members per club, Good Sports touches the lives of more than 1.5 million Australians who care about their sport, families and communities.
We can’t all be the life of the party and full of bravado. I sometimes feel the need to just sit quietly and contemplate the next platter of miniature party pies.
Many of us experience shyness through to social phobia, which is experienced though symptoms like shortness of breath, butterflies in the stomach, and sweating, negative thought patterns and intense worry, through to being quiet in social situations, or drinking too much in an attempt to lower your nerves.
There are a whole range of experiences that are different for everyone, but there are a range of things you can try:
- Challenging negative thoughts, by firstly identifying them, and logically evaluating them
- Learn to control your breathing, because learning to slow your breathing can help you bring the physical symptoms under control
- Face your fears – one step at a time, because the more you avoid things, the more scary they can become. The key is to start with a situation that you can handle and gradually work your way up to more challenging situations, building your confidence and coping skills.
These suggestions are some first steps only, so do some research into what might work for you, and practice them regularly. Be patient and practice.
If you are not experiencing any improvements, head over to my Health Professionals section, because those guys and girls should be able to work with you so you can take control and get your social mojo back.
Under my DIY Health section there are heaps of suggestions on things you can do to learn more about yourself and others. The other day I found out a mate of mine spoke fluent Klingon.
Setting a goal, no matter how small, and achieving it, is a great stepping stone to reducing the impact of anxiety and depression.
Joining a class, for example, not only enables you to meet new people, but to develop a new set of skills – new skills with which you never know what you might be able to achieve.
So head back over to my DIY Health section and see if there is something that interests you.
One of the great things about being a man is our capacity to help others. Like the time I pulled some guys lost sneaker from a well.
And as I mentioned before, you probably have somewhere between 20 and 65 years’ worth of man experience to pass onto others.
Volunteering, in particular, has some really positive effects on your mental health, because volunteering enables you to:
- help others
- meet new people
- build new skills
- experience new challenges
- build up work experience
- share previous experience
- gain new confidence
Some of you might not be ready to do this straight away, but if you are working through the other stuff I have recommended through Man Therapy, I would put volunteering on the list of goals to achieve. You don’t know who you might meet, how you might be able to help them, and how they might be able to support you.
I love a good yarn. Especially the one used in my cable knit jumper. One of the best ways to learn about how to cope with life events, and their impacts, is to learn from others. My Tales of Triumph section is loaded with some great stories. And while they provide great inspiration, you can’t talk to these particular guys directly.
So grab a cuppa, click on the link below and join another group of blokes and see what they are saying about their experiences with depression and anxiety. If you want, you can just observe for now, and when you’re ready, sign-in and join the conversation.
If you are an older guy looking to chat with others, my mates at beyondblue have another discussion group, just for older guys, at The Shed Online. Have a google for that and start flapping those manly gums.
Now if you have a mate who you reckon could do with a bit of man therapy there’s a couple of things you could do. You could, during a quiet period of the game, put your arm around him and say that you’ve been worried about him and that the two of you should sit down over a green tea and have a chat.
Or, an easy way would be to send him a text message, like I describe in my video here, and point him in the direction of my website.