June 1, 2023
It is often all to easy to forget to look after the small details and if left, little issues can develop into bigger problems that might have been avoided. Our health is one of those things that it is easy to take for granted until something goes a bit awry.
You may feel that awareness weeks and months are purely a marketing exercise and in many cases they are. But some can also serve as a good opportunity to remind us to spend a some time focusing on areas we might usually ignore.
In June, amongst other activities, we have Father’s Day and Men’s Health Week, a good opportunity to give yourself a check over and maybe check your heath, both physical and mental, or to remind the men we know that maybe a little time dedicated to assessing their health, can have long term benefits.
Take time to notice how you feel, mentally as well as physically. Are you experiencing any changes that you may not have noticed before? Is there something you need to follow up?
The media is often crammed with articles about female health, but not so much on male health. With many male health issues that could be lessened with a little forethought, looking after your self can have a big impact. Men’s Health Week aims to highlight the conditions and health concerns that disproportionately affect men. A time to take note of what is going on in your body and your mind.
A good starting place is Man MOT from Men’s Health Forum, simple checks that won’t take long but that can help identify if there might be some health issues. Checking your pulse rate – ‘is your engine tuned? Checking yourself for unexplained lumps, moles that have changed shape – ‘Looking out for dashboard warning lights,’ and an overall how are you – ‘Day to day performance’ are just some of the topics they cover. If you are not sure what you should be considering when thinking of your health, it’s a good place to start.
There are other simple changes you can make that can also benefit the whole family. Aiming to eat healthily and keeping hydrated are things that you can support each other with and all see the benefits. Reminding each other to drink water for example, or letting everyone choose a meal option or new food to try each week, can broaden food horizons and introduce new foods and recipes into the family repertoire.
With warmer weather on the way, it can be a good time to introduce vibrant salads and different fruits into your diet. Challenge yourself to introduce one new food ingredient a week.
If you can manage to sit down even once a week and eat a meal as a family or group of friends, it can also be good for your mental health. Time to relax, socialise and escape the screen and phone for awhile.
For ideas of healthy foods to add, think fresh fruit and veg, nuts and seeds, healthy fats such as oil fish, avocados and olive oil. With the summer on the way, maybe grow some salad leaves and tomatoes at home. Growing your own, even on a small scale can add fresh and vibrant tastes to your meals as well as saving some money along the way.
Mental health issues are often still a taboo subject for many men, yet depression, anxiety and more severe mental health issues such as self harm are often highest amongst men and particularly young me under the age of 30. Slowly, society is changing and groups such as MANUP? are seeking to rebrand the phrase and get men talking about all aspects of mental health in a supportive and constructive way. The Campaign Against Living Miserable (CALM) is another useful resource especially for younger men. These and many other charities and organisations are available for those who need someone to talk to.
Talking about mental health especially for men, can still be difficult which is why there are now a number of charities that focus specifically on helping men with overcoming mental health challenges.
Certain nutrients are important for our mental health and wellbeing too. B vitamins, found in whole grains, meat, yeast extract as well as in supplements, can contribute to normal psychological function and play a role in the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. If you take a vitamin B supplement, try to avoid taking it after 4pm as some people find they have vivid dreams or trouble sleeping and that could be the last thing you need when you are feeling stressed and not sleeping well.
The mineral magnesium is also important for muscle function (especially if your muscles are tense) and contributing to our psychological wellbeing too.
If you do find yourself tense and anxious you might also want to check how many cups of coffee or caffeine containing drinks such as colas, that you drink a day. They can also contribute to that tense and jittery feeling.
How much caffeine are you consuming? Why not give coffee a break and try out some herbal teas? Try hibiscus for an enlivening boost or chamomile for a calm moment before bed.
A multi vitamin and mineral can also be a good choice, especially if you don’t eat a wide variety of foods or have to restrict food intake due to allergies or intolerances and are restricting your diet. They can be a great way to give you a wide spectrum of nutrients on a regular basis.
How is your digestive system? Having a healthy gut microbiome — the collection of good bacteria that resides in our digestive system — is not only important for a health digestive tract, keeping the gut clean and manufacturing some nutrients, it also plays a role in our immune system and even our brain function. Look out for fermented foods such as live yoghurt, kimchi and kefir as well as friendly flora supplements.
Heart health and healthy cholesterol levels are also important for men, keep a check on blood pressure levels, cholesterol levels and heart rate. A healthy Mediterranean type diet can help give you all the nutrients for a healthy heart and you can add supplements such as fish oils, lecithin and selenium to your supplement regime.
So however you spend June, take a little while to check over your health and encourage those around you to do the same. It could bring a lot of added benefits and it’s never a bad thing to give yourself a little TLC.