Health & Wellbeing: Men’s Health Month
13th November 2019
by Dr Kerry Hughes
November is Men’s Health Awareness Month. Men die, on average, six years earlier than women. You can probably think of some of the more obvious causes, but remember that health is not all about giving up the cigarettes (though that would be good too!). Living a shorter life can be caused by a number of factors, one of which is poor mental health. So one way of tackling this health inequality that you may not have thought of is looking after your wellbeing.
So how can you do that? The answer can lie in what the NHS calls “5 steps to mental wellbeing” (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/improve-mental-wellbeing/). As a student, you are covering some of these already, so you have a head start! Firstly, they suggest that you connect with others. So build on those friendships, both at University and at home. Consider doing some volunteering – this can also help towards your CV and your Bronze Award (see the Your Future Plan team for help).
Follow on from this by being more physically active. Save money by getting off the bus and walking. Or join one of the University sports clubs, and make new friends at the same time! There is also the Couch to 5K option, perhaps taking advantage of Pittville Park as an invigorating environment (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/get-running-with-couch-to-5k/).
Learning new skills is something you do regularly as a student, but why not move out of your comfort zone of only learning about your chosen subject area and learn something just for fun? You could learn a new recipe and cook for friends. There are some healthy recipes available here (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/?tabname=recipes-and-tips). The chilli con carne is particularly good at this time of year, and you can easily make it cheaper and vegetarian by replacing the mince with vegetables or beans.
Giving to others can link in with your volunteering, or you could pay forward with little acts of kindness. Say thank you. Help people out. Ask someone how they are and listen to what they say. You can use being mindful (the fifth step) to help here too. Pay attention in the moment. Live now rather than in the past reliving old problems, or “pre-living” future problems. Simple things like sitting in a new seat in class will help you to notice the world in a new way. There are many mindfulness apps out there, and you can find advice on being mindful online as well (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/).
So get out there and build your wellbeing. Not only could you help yourself to develop habits that will extend your life, but you may build new friendships and develop new skills in the process.