Often in childhood, we are great at asking for support and help when we are hurt, whether it be emotional or physical. As we get older, we tend to struggle to speak up and don’t ask for the support we need.
“She’ll be right”
The ‘she’ll be right’ mentality has been perpetuated throughout generations in New Zealand, with the ‘harden up’ culture encouraging men to show resilience to physical and emotional stress.
If everything will somehow work out to be fine, then there is no real point in making a fuss, right?
This line of thinking may be contributing to the data that shows men are less likely to:
- Seek guidance from a healthcare professional.
- Undertake self-exams of their bodies.
- Seek mental health support.
- Seek substance misuse help.
It is suggested that these cues are recognised in childhood, develop throughout adolescence and may be a contributing factor to men living approximately four years less than women, and nearly eight years less for men of Māori descent.
Some men struggle to be willing patients or take preventative steps to preserve their health, with social preconceptions, internalised stress, and a tendency to avoid seeking help contributing. Often, men feel the weight of their role in the family and can bottle up issues they are facing as they don’t want to be a burden.
The reality is, stress does not discriminate.
Men who are exposed to stressors have higher blood pressure readings and cortisol releases than women. Still, the physical expression of emotions often differs, and responses are more likely to be internalised.
Although the attitudes that have encouraged this response are slowly changing, and men are being publicly encouraged to communicate openly, some of these behaviours are deeply ingrained.
Why does this matter?
Emotional withdrawal is closely linked to substance misuse, commonly alcohol, or over-eating. This increases the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, liver disease, or experiencing stroke.
Managing stress is crucial and doesn’t have to be complicated.
Stepping away from the situation and focusing on steady breathing is one of the best ways to quickly tell the body to calm down.
-Diaphragmatic breathing involves taking a moment to inhale deeply through your nose, hold your breath for five seconds, and then release it slowly through your mouth, repeating it up to ten times. This alone lowers the heart rate and releases stress-induced tension. You can find a post on this on our Instagram HERE.
-Exercise is ideal for stress reduction and release. It encourages blood and oxygen circulation and helps keep your mood more even. Studies show exercise alone can reduce anxiety and depression and improve overall physical health.
Kiwiherb offers a range of herbal support options to help support in times of stress.
Food choices are another vital way to control your stress response. A high intake of sugar, highly processed foods, poor quality fats, caffeine, and alcohol keep the body in an inflamed and stressed state. This contributes to peaks and troughs in your energy and mood.
Including lots of fresh water, high fibre wholefoods, and vegetables will help support toxin removal and calm your nervous system.
Think of food as fuel for your body. You can’t put diesel in a petrol engine and expect it to run, just as your body can’t run effectively on nutrient-empty foods.
Convenience is a relevant factor, and there are times when that is exactly what is needed to get
Sick and tired
When your body is bombarded by consistent stress and a poor diet without reprieve, nutrient stores start to run low, and illness can creep in.
Suppressed feelings of pain, sadness, guilt, fear, and stress can also trigger the ‘fight or flight’ stress response. When this happens, your immune system is affected, and you become vulnerable to illness.
So, rather than putting up with your symptoms and getting on with it, taking the time to rest is one of the most important steps in helping your body recover.
Food and lifestyle choices play a substantial role in health, and herbal medicine can be a useful tool for establishing men’s well-being.
Focusing on eating nutritional food and considering some herbal support can help you get better, more quickly.
-Kiwiherb’s ImmuneBerry, is another tasty option packed full of Elderberry, Blackcurrant, Olive, and Echinacea in a base of Raspberry juice. This formula is perfect for cardiovascular health and for use during times of increased stress.
-Kiwiherb’s Echinature is an ideal daily formula that will help in cases of slow healing, and in the prevention of illness.
-Kiwiherb’s Speedy Recovery (capsule) It is the ideal blend of the scientifically studied Andrographis paired with Quercetin, Zinc, and Vitamin D, which helps you recover quickly, and make a full recovery.
Looking out for yourself
Self-care is not a new concept, and it doesn’t just mean reading a book and a taking hot bath. It is acknowledging that each person has the power to improve their own health.
- Checking for changes in moles, lumps, and growths.
- Seeking healthcare advice when your body system doesn’t seem to work like it used to.
- Talking to a trusted friend when you’ve had a hard day.
Seeking ongoing mental health support from a professional if you need further support.
Taking time to reflect on how you really feel as well as making small consistent changes in food and lifestyle can have a notable impact on overall well-being.
Herbal medicine is also a gentle but effective way to support your body and mind.
-In times of stress, ensure you are having enough rest.
-Gradually improve your diet.
-Include some exercise you enjoy.
-Ensure you have someone you can talk to openly.
-Include herbal medicine to support your body.
-Regular check-ups especially if you notice changes in your body.
-Focus on your breathing in times of intense stress to help find calmness.
-Speak up and ask for support when you are struggling.
For phone numbers to call for support Mental health Organisation New Zealand have a comprehensive list HERE
 Baxter GD, Mabire L, Connolly MJ, Theodore R, Brunson J, Nicholson H. Seven things you need to know about men’s health. The New Zealand Medical Journal [Internet]. 2017 Oct 6 [cited 2022];130(1463): 7-10. Available from: https://assets-global.website-files.com/5e332a62c703f653182faf47/5e332a62c703f64e652fce36_Baxter%20FINAL.pdf