Dr. Orma contributed to a recently published book entitled, “Your Mental Health Questions Answered,” by J. Lucy Boyd, RN, BSN. The book is a valuable resource for consumers and poses questions to psychologists and psychiatrists on topics of interest in mental health. Dr. Orma answers two questions in the book about stress, one of his areas of specialty. Here’s the second question from the book that Dr. Orma addresses. (You can view the first question and Dr. Orma’s response here).
What are some effective stress management tools for men who think yoga, meditation, or a hot bath isn’t for them?
The key point to keep in mind when choosing activities to manage stress is to find ones that reflect your personal tastes, interests, and values. They should also be relaxing, fun, and comfortable to you personally. If the activity doesn’t provide these, it isn’t going to relieve stress, no matter how many other people find it useful.
For many women and men, yoga, meditation, and a hot bath are enjoyable and de-stressing activities. However, some men (and some women) may not favor them. For some men, these activities may seem “too feminine” and therefore, they feel uncomfortable or self-conscious engaging in them. Or, it just may be that it’s not their thing. This is completely okay, as there are an unlimited variety of hobbies and activities that men and women can engage in that provide the same benefits as yoga, meditation, and hot baths.
Here are some suggestions:
Exercise—This can include any type of aerobic exercise (e.g. swimming, running, hiking, cycling, skiing, walking) or strength-based exercise (e.g. weight lifting, machines, push-ups, crunches, pull-ups).
Sports—Playing a sport can be a fun and sociable way to de-stress (e.g. softball, basketball, tennis, boxing, soccer, golf).
Socializing—Having dinner or doing some other type of activity with friends or family (ones you like being with!) can be a great way to relax and refuel.
Entertainment—Watching your favorite TV show, seeing a movie, going to a concert, or listening to music at home can be nice ways to relax, have fun, and escape from the stresses of the day.
Video Games—Video games are not just for kids and teens anymore. With the advancements in technology and explosion in popularity, there are now a huge variety of video games for men and women of all ages and interests. It’s a great way to relieve stress and to take your mind off of your worries.
Vacation—Taking a vacation is one of the best ways to decompress, because it takes you away from your daily environment, and puts you in a place where your only responsibility is to relax and have fun. The ideal vacation is one where you can get away from your phone, computer, email, and the daily demands of life, and be able to do, or not do, whatever you want. This can be an extended vacation to a far away land, or an overnight getaway to a cozy bed and breakfast an hour’s drive away.
Pets—Taking the dog for a walk can be a good de-stressor, as it allows you to get some fresh air, get a little exercise, and spend time with your pal.
Hobbies—Engaging in a hobby you enjoy is a great way to relieve stress, because it allows you to focus your mind on something enjoyable, and maybe even challenging, which forces you to take your mind off any worries or stressors. There are hundreds of hobbies to choose from (e.g. woodworking, drawing, model building, puzzles, word games, coin collecting, gardening, fixing and rebuilding cars).
I’ve just scratched the surface here. There are hundreds more hobbies and leisure activities one can engage in or try out as potential stress relievers. All you have to do is choose some, try them out and see what you like, can afford, and can fit into your schedule, and then start engaging in them on a regular basis to reap the de-stressing benefits.
In addition to using hobbies and leisure activities as a way to manage stress, there are some stress management tools that everyone, male or female, young or old, should have in their toolbox. These include: time management skills, organization skills, prioritization skills, communication and assertiveness skills, sleep hygiene techniques, knowing when to take breaks, eating a nutritious diet, and thinking and problem-solving skills. There are many books and workbooks that can help you learn and apply these skills, or you can learn them from a counselor or therapist.
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Dr. Steve Orma is a San Francisco-based licensed CBT clinical psychologist, recognized mental health expert, and specialist in the treatment of anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
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