This Movember, Sean Swaby will not shave any of his hair, not even his pits. His hair will be doing the work to raise awareness, raise funds and to raise eyebrows for men’s health.
I am a happily bearded man. For Movember 2015, I will let my hair take me where it wants to go. I’m taking a month off from shaving, trimming and haircuts. Not even my pits will get a shave, because a big cause demands big sacrifices.
Put the Mo into Your Movember
Taking a break from shaving is a pain. Honestly, I don’t like stubble and I hate having Medusa hair. My philosophy is that you can’t control many things in life, but at least your hair needs to go your way.
Body hair is external and visible but mental health is often internal and invisible. Growing a little stubble and bearing with some saggy hair is a reminder of the internal battles that men and women with mental health issues face every day.
My father suffered from alcoholism, abuse and depression. He grew up in an era where the only therapy available was courtesy of Jack Daniels. What lights my fire is that things can be better for you and I. My goal is to support men in their efforts to care for their own and each other’s mental health.
How about you, who puts the Mo into your Movember?
Can You Spare a MOment for the Men in Your Life?
Just being a guy can be bad for your physical and mental health. Here are the numbers:
- Life expectancy for a man is shorter by six years. We’re not comparing, but this is one where size does matter.
- Worldwide, men account for three quarters of completed suicides.
- Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men and the number of cases is expected to be one point seven million cases by 2030.
- Men and women experience unique barriers and needs with their addiction and recovery. Men comprise about two-thirds of those with alcohol problems and just over half of those who have problems with other drugs. Men suffer alone in their addiction longer and spend less time getting the treatment they need.
- Men are more likely to isolate and avoid talking about their emotional experience.
The health of men and women is important. All of us have unique needs, but the specific healthcare needs of men often receives little attention from health policy-makers or providers.
Movember is about raising attention about the hidden men’s health crisis and needs the help of the Mo Sistas and Mo Bros everywhere.
MOVEmber is for Your Mental Health
Movember is not only about the mental health of “other people,” it is about you and your health. One of the most important things you can do is practice some healthy self care:
- Ask – the men in your life about their mental health, how they cope with their emotions and stress and whether they need someone to listen to them.
- Share – your story, your experience and your needs. Vulnerability is like a virus, stories create a doorway to new possibilities.
- Listen – to yourself. How much time do you spend checking Facebook and other social media? Research has it that we spend about one hour and fourty minutes on our various social platforms. How about investing a few minutes of that time to check on your own status update? Slow down, breathe, and check in with yourself.
What listening to myself taught me is that I was ranting stories about how another person was trying to control my life and that nothing I do matters. I repeated the story over and over in my head. Then it hit me that the story I was telling myself wasn’t helping the situation at all.
- Remember – what you are thankful for. Intentionally remembering what we appreciate or value in our day can increase our sense of happiness.
- Forget – the right kind of stuff. It can be difficult to forgive or to forget negative experiences. Ruminating is associated with more negative mental health experiences. Using a gratitude journal, recording highlights of the day can give your mind something positive to chew on.
- Move – around more. Moving more can reduce your your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer by up to 50%. Make it a goal to move every day for 30 minutes by walking, playing a sport, taking the stairs or even doing some burpees.
- Sleep – is a reset for our brains and our bodies. If sleep is unsatisfying, speak with your doctor and consider asking for strategies that may or may not include medication. Self-hypnosis, meditation and visualization can help with some sleep issues.
- Pray – a little, meditate, listen to soulful music, spend time in nature or engage in service because these things can lead to a more satisfying and connected life.
- Play – and laugh. Adults laugh an average of five times per day, while children laugh three hundred times a day. Try being outside more, getting a change of scenery or being with other people rather than being on a screen.
- Last and most important, don’t forget to…
Keep it Real
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Green, C.A. (2006). Gender and use of substance abuse treatment services alcohol research & health. 29(1), Page 55-62.
Hser, Y-H, Anglin, M.D. & Booth, M.W. (1987). Sex differences in addict careers. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Volume 13, Issue 3. Page 231-251. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/00952998709001512
Keenen, T. (2014, April 2). Are men hardwired for addiction? The Calgary Herald. http://www.calgaryherald.com/life/hardwired+addiction/9473802/story.html
Movember Foundation. (2015). https://ca.movember.com/programs/cause
World Health Organization (2001). The World Health Report 2001: Mental Health: New Understanding, New Hope. Chapter 2: Burden of Mental and Behavioural Disorders. http://www.who.int/whr/2001/chapter2/en/index4.html
World Health Organization (2014). WHO first report on suicide prevention. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/suicide-prevention-report/en/
Photo courtesy of smswaby.