Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. It is unfortunate that many men today are struggling with mental health (it's also why we donate a portion of our profits to men's charities). Given the scale of the issue, we should all question what wider sociological, technological and economic circumstances contribute towards a young man taking his life.
Nevertheless, the treatment of symptoms is often a combination of pharmaceutical and talking therapy with varied success. As such, 17% of the UK are consuming anti-depressants on an ongoing basis.
There is significant pressure and responsibility on a man's shoulders, so feelings of hopelessness and temptations to give up are not surprising. Yet whilst we think medications have their place, we believe taking responsibility by seeking knowledge, addressing underlying issues and taking preventative measures is critical for all men if they are to give themselves the best chances to succeed.
It is a man's obligation to strive for strength, knowledge and be the source of stability for his community & family.
Here are 9 habits we think we should strive to maintain if we want to reduce the risk of depression.
1. ADOPT AN INTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL
Locus of control is the degree to which a man believes he has control over the outcome of events in his life. Having an 'internal' locus of control refers to the belief that you are more responsible for the events that occur in your life. Whereas having an 'external' locus of control refers to the opposite, that you believe external factors have control over your life.
To adopt an internal locus of control, be the man who is useful to others and takes responsibility for tasks. The mentality here is not to wait for others to step up, but for you to always be willing to take the initiative with confidence.
Whether you're in school and your teacher asks for a volunteer. Or you're at work and your manager has made a request to the team. Or you're at home and see something needs fixing. Take charge, take responsibility and execute the task.
Why does this prevent depression? A man who is needed by others and is relied upon is leaning in to his natural, biological role; being resourceful as a protector and provider. This creates sense of purpose in life and reinforces in your mind that you taking action makes a positive difference in yours and others lives.
2. TRAIN REGULARLY
Training in all it's forms (weightlifting, fighting, competing etc) prevents depression by teaching you to:
Never give up - you will encounter challenges and failures to overcome.
Be disciplined - you learn motivation comes and goes, yet doing things when you don't want to, or making time for them when life gets in the way, is empowering.
Set long-term goals - you understand the value of taking small, consistent steps towards your goal.
Be resilient to pain - training regularly is not comfortable, but you learn that growth, peace and strength can come from exposure to discomfort.
Can't get to a gym? Many parks have outdoor gyms or you can easily work out in a small space at home. Research workouts online to get started.
3. CREATE A SOCIAL NETWORK
Go out on a Saturday night and you will see bars, restaurants and the streets filled with people. You'd think that everyone has a buzzing social life. The reality is that there are countless people at home who are yearning for connections.
Unfortunately, if you didn't cement lifelong relationships early on, then it becomes much harder to make friends as you get older. Especially for men, we get so caught up looking after others, spend any free time that we can get alone to rest, that we neglect our own social connections.
It's not impossible, it just takes time and hard work like anything else so it's important to start taking small steps towards developing this area of your life.
4. AVOID NEGATIVE COMPARISONS WITH OTHER MEN
By nature's design men compete with each other. Even before you were born, you competed with hundreds of millions of sperm to fertilise just one egg - and won. That alone should remind you that you can win, even against all odds.
Then as adults on dating apps, men are valued for their experience, social & financial status and physical stature - these are things that take significant amounts of time to achieve for most men. Yet nowadays you have younger men more closely competing with older men. As an example: A young man in his early 20s, at the start of his journey, is competing for the same woman that a more established man, in his early 30s is competing for. Without the ability to effectively communicate personality, who is likely to succeed on face value? As such, dating apps are notorious for depression and self-esteem issues in young men.
It's important to not let this impact your self-esteem and realise that you are on a certain stage of your journey. The fact that other men have achieved what you want to achieve proves that it's possible for you. This is a positive comparison and should motivate you, not demotivate you.
5. AVOID UNHAPPY & NEGATIVE PEOPLE
At the end of the day, the only person who can save yourself is you. Why make this harder by surrounding yourself with negativity? Other's emotional states are like viruses; they are contagious no matter how resilient we are. This may not always be feasible (sometimes negativity may come from those who are closest to us).
6. CREATE A ROUTINE & STRUCTURE TO YOUR LIFE
Live a life where it is unacceptable for you to wake up without a plan or structure to your day. Every day you should know what you are doing and every Sunday night you should know what you want to achieve the following week.
Use to-do lists regularly, so you can offload energy that is being wasted mentally tracking your to-dos and give yourself positive reinforcement whenever you check off a task.
Consistently waking up without a plan, unless on holiday, is a sure way to create feelings of aimlessness and lack of purpose in life.
7. GET IN TO NATURE REGULARLY
Step outside regularly and expose yourself to the elements. Whether you go on hikes or visit your local parks (away from traffic and pollution; very important). Give yourself time to absorb fresh air, sunlight and slow down. As men we are constantly charging forward but it is critical that we can give our brains a break from constant stimulation and be present in the moment. Work smarter, not harder.
8. PRACTICE GRATITUDE
Whilst there will always be someone out there who has it 'better' than you, there will always be someone out there who has it 'worse' than you. Be grateful for the opportunities you have to make a difference in your life, no matter the circumstances. One day you could wake up and your life could be turned upside down, so make the most of the days you have now.
9. TRAIN YOUR MIND TO BE RESILIENT
There are always challenges ahead no matter what you do. Get used to being psychologically prepared for the next challenge, so you don't become disappointed or defeated at the first sign of trouble.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable and approach things that give you anxiety with the mentality of 'I'm going to charge in to this challenge and do what I set out to do, anyway".
Have anything to share? Let us know in the comments!