How to be a successful advocate for your own mental health.
When we talk about the health of an individual, we aren’t just talking about the absence of illness but rather, the combined state of mental, physical, and social well-being.Mental health is a vital component of our overall wellness, yet it’s often overlooked or viewed as a negative determinant of our health.
Mental health encapsulates our psychological and emotional well-being, impacting everything in our daily lives such asour thoughts and actions, relationships with others, decision-making, our ability to handle stress, and reach our goals. It has a direct impact on our general life satisfaction and affects the lives of everyone around us.
“Mental health has a direct impact on our general life satisfaction and affects the lives of everyone around us”
It’s time to correct the conversation and make one thing very clear – mental health is incredibly important. When we feel a disconnect between the life we have envisioned and the one we’re living, negative habits and tendencies show up in our daily lives.
As a gentleman’s therapist who offers complimentary 20-minute consultations with prospective clients, I often get asked questions on how to support positive mental health or how to identify when it’s an appropriate time to seek help. Men are often confused or intimidated by the process of deciding when to seek therapy and how to select a therapist. Once they make it into the office, they often report that they feel they had overcomplicated the issue. I get it – when you’re struggling, these small decisions can seem monumental. You’re already overwhelmed – you don’t need the process to be any more difficult than it needs to be.
“I hope that I can put your mind at ease by sharing some of these frequently asked questions.I’ve been in your shoes, mate. You don’t have to go it alone”.
If you decide you’d like to have some help in your corner, you’ll have this knowledge to take the fear of the “unknown” down a few notches. Do not suffer in silence. Speak up and make your voice heard.
You ARE man enough!
What is something I can do every day to support my mental health?
There are many small habits we can implement in our daily routine to enhance ourwell-being.According to research and various schools of therapeutic thought, change is sometimes best established when we adopt small, positive, and measurable functions over a given period of time.
Practicing self-care is instrumental to mental health – it should never be misconstrued as a selfish pastime. By focusing on your own well-being, you will be able to be truly present for your loved ones.
Connectingwith others who support you and bring positivity into your life is beneficial.Connecting with the community and helping others can increase your happiness and satisfaction, while reducing feelings of loneliness or isolation.
“Self-care should never be misconstrued as a selfish pastime”.
It’s important to take good care of your body. Sleep is directly correlated to your mental health. Make it a priority in your lifeby creating a healthy sleep environment and healthy bedtime habits. Physical activity improvessleep, memory, and many of the common men’s mental health issues (stress, depression, anxiety, social anxiety) and is an effective means of anger management.
Adopting relaxation skills and mindfulness haveshown to increase our resilience during ambiguous times and assist with cultivatingoptimism. Remember, we are all a work in progress – we all make mistakes, we learn from them, and we grow.It’s important to avoid self-criticism and to offer yourself the same kindness and compassion you would offer to your family and friends.
How do I tell my family or friends that I need help with my mental health?
It’s hard to be a man in today’s world. We often feel we’re expected to shoulder all the problems and be there to support our significant other, children, parents, coworkers, etc.We tend to feel flawed by asking for help. It’s important to know that there’s absolutely no shame in asking for help – we all need assistance from time-to-time. You call the shots, so you get to decidewho you choose to confide in and what you share. Having healthy boundaries is an important component ofgood mental health.
“There’s absolutely no shame or judgement in asking for help”
Words can sometimes be elusive when we’re trying to communicate something personal to our loved ones, so having an open dialogue where your loved ones can ask questions can help.Communicate your needs as clearly as possible. Allow them time to digest the conversation and keep the lines of communication open for follow-up questions.
It’s important to feel supported by the people closest to you. Your loved ones want to know when you’re struggling. They want to help ease your burden and help get you through this time. We’ve all been through challenging times at one time or another.Isolation only exacerbates the struggle.
Why is my mental health harder to manage during times of uncertainty?
It’s a natural human instinct to favor certainty and to experience stress in ambiguous situations. We like feeling in control and we crave predictability. Uncertainty often feels threatening because we do not have confidence in the outcomedue to a lack of information or conflicting information. This is disconcerting.
It’s important to note that everyone reacts differently to situations. It’s normal to feel some anxiety and stress during a crisis. However, men who have a preexisting mental health issue are at greater risk during these times because they simply can’t tolerate any additional stress or uncertainty.
“It is a natural human instinct to favor certainty”.
Having frequentdaily challenges or a big crisis tends to put them on overload. The result is a tendency toward excessive worrying, imagining undesirable outcomes, and feelingoverwhelmed. This quickly deteriorates their mental health.
Ambiguous situations, although undesirable, are navigable. How we deal with ambiguity is largely based on our past experiences and our ability to trust. We can increase our tolerance for ambiguity by working with a trusted counselor so that when a crisis arrives, we have the tools in place to handle it effectively and with confidence.
What are the signs that I might benefit from therapy or other professional help?
It’s often a challenge for a man to be able to identify when it’s time to seek professional help. A simple answer is: if the issue he is experiencing is decreasing his overall quality of life or is preventing him from living the life he has envisioned, it’s time to seek help.
Men new to therapy report having failed at their own solutions, a lack of support, over-dependence on others, abusing things to alleviate symptoms, excessive worry or overthinking, and feelings of disconnect or discontent as the catalyst for reaching out.
Often these men find regulating their emotions to be difficult. They identify feeling overwhelmed, alack of motivation, sadness, withdrawal,irritation, anger, resentment, hopelessness, guilt, shame, and overreacting as daily companions. Theyoften report feeling trapped, have the sensation of always “walking on egg-shells”, have difficulty expressing themselves, and find themselves participating in arguments.
“If you are experiencing a decrease in your overall quality of life or feel that something is preventing you from living the life you envision, then it might be time to seek help”.
These symptoms can evolve into physical symptoms such as poor sleep, muscular tension, fatigue, and a host of other ailments. They also reveal themselves as substance abuse, irresponsible financial decisions, excessive risk-taking, and simply put, bad choices.
Don’t let things escalate to this level of destruction. Take care of issues when they are minor,so they don’t negatively impact your life and those around you. Asking for help isn’t always easy, but it’s often much easier than you think. You don’t have to go through this alone.
I’m nervous about starting therapy and so I keep putting it off. How do I overcome this?
What you’re experiencing is completely normal. Many clients report the feeling of diving into the great unknown before their first therapy session. It’s an ambiguous situation, and we are naturally hard-wired to find those uncomfortable.
Realize that you are in charge – you get to choose when and how you’ll participate, and what you’ll share. Ask your potential counselor what to expect during the first session, along with any other questions you might have. This alone can put your mind at ease.You can also write down what you’d like to discuss in your first therapy session.
“You are in charge. You get to choose when and how you’ll participate, and what you’ll share”
Most of all, consider therapy a safe, no-judgment zone – therapists want to help you, so we respect where you are in the process of change. We’re here to be your guide – someone you have chosen who is impartial and objective, allowing you to discuss your concerns so we can help you live your best life.
As a Gentleman’s Therapist, I hold the principle that you are the expert. Sure, years of study and real-world conversations have certainly taught me a few things, but no one knows your life and the complexities you navigate on a daily basis better than you. Sometimes we just need some guidance tapping into the boundless possibilities that reside within.
A Final Word:
We humans are thinking creatures and are shaped by our thoughts. One of the most important things we can discover about ourselves and master is the ability to shape our thoughts in meaningful and productive ways – to be highly intentional about the thoughts that work for us, and jettison those that don’t. What your mind consumes inevitably expands into your life. As you think, so you become.
“Helping men disrupt the status quo that weighs on them is what I do on a daily basis”.
My professional career is entirely focused on the field of men’s mental and emotional health and wellness – helping deliver personalized, effective, and enduring practices that enhance relationships and individual life pursuits.
My career as a licensed marriage and family therapist has allowed me to gain tremendous insight into the workings of men’s minds and the creative ways that they explore and engage in life. I’ve also identified first-hand that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to supporting guys. The hundreds of conversations that I’ve had with guys, coupled with extensive research in the field of men’s emotional, relational, and behavioral psychology backs this experience up.
As a result, I’ve developed a tailored program for men who want to live their best ‘unconventional’ life. This means free from the burdens and fully equipped to handle the disconnect and chaos that men so frequently experience.
“You are in control of your experience. You’re the one calling the shots”.
When you come to talk to me, my role is to help you uncover your own solutions to your problems. You are a reservoir of untapped potential. You deserve to live the life you envision.
Curious?Let’s connect for a complimentary, 20-minute phone consultation. Book through my website, or call 512-470-6976. There’s help in your corner!
Simon Niblock, MA, LMFT
Founder | Psychotherapist | Speaker
Simon Niblock, Therapy for Men