5 Anxiety-Reducing Tips for the Modern Man

Healthy coping strategies that can make all the difference.

Posted Apr 10, 2018

Thinkstock/Getty Images
Source: Thinkstock/Getty Images

Is a constant stream of news headlines and notifications barraging your phone and infiltrating your email, reminding you of political, economic, and humanitarian unrest? It’s difficult not to emotionally respond and react, or let the most recent CNN or NYT update put you in a horrible mood.

Do you shudder when a notification from a news network pops up on your phone mid-day, while you’re trying to finish a report for work? Do news headlines that flood your Facebook feed make you angry, anxious, or irritable?

Men tend to use less effective coping strategies. We abuse substances more than women, and are more likely to shut down in the face of unpleasant emotions over working through them.

So how can the modern man manage his stress and anxiety? Here are five approaches to staying grounded.

1) Limit news to 10 minutes a day from one trusted source.

It’s possible to control your own exposure to the news, and if it’s negatively impacting you, you have the power to limit how much you digest daily. Imagine designating 10 minutes a day and 10 minutes only to catch up on the Washington Post or your favorite news source --- at a time of the day when you don’t have other commitments or distractions. Turn off your push notifications and resist the habit to read all about what’s wrong with the world as soon as you get to the office.

2) Practice mindfulness however you can.

Mindfulness has become somewhat of a buzzword in popular psychology as of late. What it really means is paying attention to yourself (your thoughts, your actions, your emotions) in the moment, without judgment. Practicing mindfulness can be as extreme as hours of meditation, or as simple as taking a moment for a few deep breaths while you pay specific attention to your chest moving up and down, your lungs filling, and your heart rate slowing.

Mindfulness can virtually be applied to any activity. You can make a point to mindfully eat lunch, paying attention to your chewing, swallowing, and how your body feels as you digest food. You can mindfully listen to music, focusing only on the rhythms and lyrics for an entire song.

Finding a type of mindfulness that you can easily incorporate in your daily life can have a lasting impact on your level of anxiety.

3) Maximize meaningful connections with people close to you.

Connecting with others---those you feel close with, those you feel support you, and those that make you happy--- can have an impact on your mood and level of anxiety.

If you’re feeling anxious about Trump’s latest move, or the most recent stock market fluctuation, chances are that someone you are close to is a) either feeling the same or b) cares about how you’re feeling. Checking in with the people we love can help bring us back down to earth when our emotions seem all-consuming.  

4) Make plans for activities you love.

Especially when we aren’t feeling 100% physically or mentally, it’s important to remind ourselves of what matters. Bringing meaning to life can be as simple as engaging in an activity you enjoy, or removing yourself from the stream of notifications to reflect on what is important to you, perhaps what you find beautiful in the world, or if that’s too cheesy for you, what gets you out of bed in the morning.

Making plans that you are passionate about, both short and long term, keeps you motivated. People who have a life plan or goal they are working towards tend to fare better than those who don’t.

Thinkstock/Getty Images
Source: Thinkstock/Getty Images

5) Take care of yourself. 

Doing one thing per day entirely for yourself, no matter how large or small, can be extremely beneficial. We, as men especially, often choose to push through a rough patch, or “suck it up” when having an off day.

Listen to what your body and mind need. Maybe it’s as simple as going for a walk, watching your favorite TV show, or getting a workout in. Or maybe it’s about skipping the workout to spend time with your wife, or finishing one last piece of work before you head home for the day. Know your signs of burnout, or mental exhaustion, and respond like a man—do what you need to do, not for anyone else, but for your own sanity. There’s nothing more manly than that.

Stay Manly,

Dr. Lukin