Ask five different men what’s stressing them out right now, and you may very well receive five different answers. Perhaps one is stressed about his favorite sports team’s upcoming game, while another is concerned about an aging parent.
The reasons for stress can be as varied as the people themselves. But when examining stress triggers on a broader scale, certain factors tend to come up again and again. In fact, an article on The Huffington Post’s website highlighted a survey conducted by the Mayo Clinic regarding the top five sources of stress among men.
While it’s impossible to avoid most of the factors identified in the survey, it’s important to be aware of them so you can proactively monitor how these situations may be affecting stress levels in your daily life.
Stress Trigger #1: Finances
According to survey, 34% of male participants cited finances as the No. 1 stressor in their life. If this is a source of stress for you, try following the advice offered by the American Psychological Association, which recommends that you identify the specific causes of your financial stress, write down a plan for overcoming these financial stressors, and then monitor your progress on a regular basis.
Keep in mind that failing to address financial problems is especially detrimental from a stress management perspective, as financial issues are notorious for leading to relationship problems — which just so happens to be the next stress trigger on the list.
Stress Trigger #2: Family and Relationships
While relationships between romantic partners (married or otherwise) can certainly be a source of stress for many, that’s not the only type of relationship that may cause stress. Any type of relationship — whether it’s a parent-child, sibling, friend, or a co-worker relationship — can be part of stress.
Experts on relationship stress management typically offer similar pieces of advice: to treat the other person with respect, to listen, to state your wishes clearly and to seek professional help if necessary.
Stress Trigger #3: Job Stability
With the recession still hovering in the not-so-distant past, it’s no wonder job stability ranks as such a common source of stress. Even in positive economic times, job performance pressures and demanding work schedules can take their toll on one’s stress levels.
So what can you do to manage stress related to your work? The American Psychological Association advises separation between your professional and personal life (such as taking a break from emails and calls during your free time), using your allotted vacation days, practicing relaxation techniques and speaking with your supervisor about job stressors and ways to manage them.
Stress Trigger #4: Fast Pace of Life
Long work commutes, too many business trips, caring for children, running errands, making meals, maintaining your property, keeping up with appointments…all of these daily life factors can contribute to a pace of life that might seem almost impossible to keep up with. Although you might feel that you’re unable to change the actual pace of your life, there are things you can do to help manage the stress related to it.
First, consider if there are activities in your life that are taking up your time without bringing you any value. If so, replace those activities with something you find fulfilling — such as engaging in a new hobby or spending time with your family. It’s also a good idea to get proactive about organization and being selective about what activities you agree to do. Sometimes learning to say no politely is the best stress reliever. This will enable you to be more efficient in the tasks you need to complete each day.
Stress Trigger #5: Health
There’s no doubt that it can be stressful trying to overcome an illness, manage a chronic disease or deal with potential health concerns. But the stress related to these issues can actually cause more health problems, so it’s critical to tackle any health stressors head on. A 2004 study found that chronic, unaddressed stress contributed significantly to cardiovascular disease like heart attacks.
What’s the single best thing you can do to manage health-related stress? Schedule an appointment with your doctor. Many men fail to go to the doctor until a serious health problem arises, but early diagnoses can minimize health issues—and regular checkups (such as the annual physical exam) can help you stay on top of disease management. Not to mention, your physician may be able to offer advice in helping you manage other sources of stress in your life too.
Stress Slogan to Remember: Deal So You Can Heal
Whether the top stress triggers in your life align with the five factors listed above or stem from other issues, the important thing to remember is this: You need to actively deal with your stress in order to manage and overcome it. So take action today — before stress takes an irreversible toll on your health, happiness and well-being.