Everything was going on well for Akash. He got promoted, was made the project in charge for a new initiative and he was about to get engaged to his longtime girlfriend. But then, for the last few weeks, there has been a drastic change in his behaviour. He looks tensed, worried and agitated almost all the time. His productivity also began declining. He has started to avoid all social gatherings, skip hangouts with his best buddies, and doesn’t pursue his hobbies anymore. The problem is, he doesn’t share it with anyone and is almost never ready to accept it. His new role and added responsibilities and his relationship with his girlfriend, which has suddenly hit a rough patch, is making him stressed. And he is unable to manage it.
Stress in men can get quite tricky. Unlike women who can openly express their emotions, men find it exceedingly difficult to express their feelings and what they are going through. They can hide it so well or express it in ways that aren’t necessarily telling if they are stressed. Top it with the macho image our Bollywood movies have given us. The so called “Mard ko dard nahi hota” has made it even harder for men to seek support when in need, which is a disaster.
But why do men don’t accept being stressed?
Blame the society for it, but stress or anxiety is considered a weakness and thus many men bluntly refuse to show that they can’t handle something like it. They don’t want people to think that they are being challenged or that they are feeling overwhelmed. And therefore, they will decline if they need help with something, although they may actually benefit from it.
Men have different ways to deal with stress, for instance,
- They will isolate themselves, so others may not know that they are going through stress or anxiety
- They will become angry and may even disrespect the people around them
- They will start blaming others for their problems
- They may even create problems so they may not have to face the problems they are already facing
How to help men better manage stress?
Helping a male going through stress requires added efforts if you are trying to help since they may not want you to think that they need support. But here are a few ways in which you can help:
Help them (without necessarily telling them)
If your son, brother, or even boyfriend or husband is going through stress, you should make an effort to help him without him knowing. For instance, if he is angry because he is unable to find an important paperwork, you can get him a cabinet or drawer and even organize his papers for him. Likewise, if he is running busy and unable to get time for lunch, you can have his food packed for him or even delivered so can eat while working.
Remember, such small gestures help a lot in helping men beat stress.
Talk to them and let them know that you are there for them
Men may not talk about the things that are bothering them, but if asked politely, they might open up. You can try bringing this subject in certain places, for instances, while having a dinner, or while having a walk together. You can say things like, “I have noticed you seem quite preoccupied with yourself, is something different happening at work?”
Remember your tone should be polite and friendly.
Don’t add more stress in their life
If you know that the person is not having a great time at the office, or is dealing with a lot of stress, then avoid placing more demands on them. You can reach out to them at the right time when they aren’t so overwhelmed and help them with their issues.
Most Importantly, DO NOT STEREOTYPE!
With all the “Mard ko Dard nahi hota” macho image projected by Bollywood, it has become increasingly difficult for men to seek support. Please don’t label men asking for help or crying as weak. Crying is an emotion which is good for us. Knowingly or Unknowingly, don’t start behaving strangely when you see the so called “stronger gender” in a difficult situation.
Lastly, do remember that to help a stressed man needs perspective taking. You really need to see the stress from the eyes of the man and understand what he thinks and feels. You have to make an attempt to understand why he does and say things when he’s stressed out.