Men Today

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How men can cope with stress

Stress is a significant part of many people's lives. Men and women experience stress for a variety of reasons, but the rigors of managing a career and a family are something many men and women point to as their biggest causes of stress.

Though both men and women suffer from stress, how they respond to stress is vastly different. According to a report from the American Psychological Association titled "Stress in America," only 52 percent of men say it is very important to manage stress. That pales in comparison to the 68 percent of women who recognize the importance of managing stress. In addition, the APA notes that roughly 25 percent of women recognize they are not doing enough to manage stress, while just 17 percent of men feel the same way. Such statistics are important, as men who underestimate stress could be unaware that stress increases their risk for depression, anxiety and cardiovascular disease.

Recognizing a problem with stress is a great first step toward reducing it and improving your long-term health. There are many ways men can reduce stress, but the APA again notes that men are far less likely than women to employ strategies to reduce stress. Fifty-one percent of women, for example, admit to reading as a means of relieving stress, while only 31 percent of men say they read to relieve stress. Men who want to buck these trends can take several steps to cope with and ultimately reduce their stress.

* Find the cause of your stress. Recognizing the things that trigger your stress can help you avoid them or at least be more prepared for them going forward. Workplace stress is considerable for many people, and a 2012 study published in the medical journal Cardiology & Vascular Medicine found that people with job strain at work, which the authors defined as high demand on the individual and little to no freedom to make their own decisions as to how and when to do the work, had a 23 percent greater risk of heart attack. If work is the primary cause of your stress and you don't address it, the impact on your health could be dire.

When you find yourself stressing out, take a moment to write down the things that might have triggered the stressful episode. It might be a particular task at work or driving in heavy traffic. Once you have identified the things that trigger your stress you can work to avoid them as best as possible or you will be able to see them coming and might be able to respond more calmly.

* Find a healthy response to stress. How you respond to stress is essential to reducing it. As previously noted, many men do not even recognize the importance of managing stress, and those men might be more inclined to respond to stress in negative, unhealthy ways, such as by smoking or drinking. Such responses will only exacerbate the problem.

Finding a healthy response to stress is essential. Some research has suggested that exercise enhances the body's ability to deal with stress and provides the body with somewhat of a trial run at responding to stress. When the body is exercising, several of its physiological systems must communicate with one another, and those same systems must work together once again when the body is responding to stress. So exercise may not only relieve stress but also help your body become more capable of coping with  stress. Discussing stress with others or a stress-reducing activity like meditation are also healthy responses to stress.

* Take a proactive approach to stress. Many people can trace their stress to taking on more they can handle. This can occur at the office, in your personal life or, as is the case for many people, a combination of both. Stretching yourself too thinly can make you vulnerable to stress. Even if one particular thing like work or family is not stressing you out, it's important to recognize that stress can also be caused by a combination of things. Before stress even has a chance to settle in, make an effort to give yourself more down time and do not stretch yourself too thin.