At my last annual check-up, the nurse took my vital signs, wrote a few things on my chart, and told me to sit on the exam table. As my feet dangled over the edge and the paper crinkled beneath me, nightmarish thoughts of hospital gowns danced in my head. After what felt like an eternity, my doctor walked in and perused my chart. He sighed and shook his head.
“Your blood pressure is up,” he said. “Is there anything unusual going on in your life?”
“I guess I’ve been a bit stressed at work,” I said.
He reached over, grabbed my shoulder, and gave it a hard squeeze. “I think you may be more than a bit stressed,” he said. “You’re tense right now.”
The rest of the exam consisted of his lecturing me on the dangers of stress and how it can produce or contribute to fatigue, back pain, digestive disorders, and heart problems. For men, stress can manifest itself in the forms of anger, irritability, depression, or physical illness.
Thankfully, I’m attuned to my body and I know when my stress levels are too high. I experience headaches, muscle tension, and insomnia. I’m also aware of the things that cause stress in my life such as traffic jams, noise, work deadlines, and family conflicts. While I cannot avoid all of these things, I can work on my stress levels. As soon as I start to feel stressed out, I do one or more of these seven things to help me deal with and reduce stress:
Talk About It
Men have a tendency to store things inside. Without an outlet to express our worries, our problems can intensify. When I’m stressed, I talk to my partner about what’s going on in my life. I also have a few close confidants that I share my problems with. Talking about the sources of my stress has helped me to cope with them. You may also want to schedule an appointment with a therapist if need professional help.
As I mentioned earlier, noise is stressful for me. To do my best work, I need a quiet spot. I use my quiet time to pray, meditate, and focus. This solitude helps me to sort out issues in my mind. I always feel sharper and more relaxed after a few minutes of total quiet.
I like to lift weights and do MMA Training. These physical workouts allow me to release aggression in a positive way. I always feel relaxed and full of energy after a few rounds with a heavy bag. The stress seems to melt away while I exercise. But less aggressive physical acts work too. Yoga, calisthenics, or even taking a brisk walk are beneficial and can get your heart rate pumping.
Get a Massage
I got my first massage in Mexico in a beachside cabana. It ranks pretty high on my list of best things ever right behind my wedding, the birth of my kids, and my first car. Since then, I’ve been addicted. I have my massage therapist on speed-dial. After a massage, I always feel better physically and emotionally.
Do Something You Love
I like to play my guitar when I feel stressed. The music soothes me and helps to clear my head. Although I’m a mediocre player, I enjoy spending time with the instrument. Finding an activity you enjoy helps you to refocus your thoughts and channel your energy into something positive.
Take a Vacation
Most Americans work 60+ hours each week and take less than a week of vacation each year. With this type of work schedule, it’s easy to get stressed out. Take the time to get away for your regular routine. You will be rejuvenated and enjoy the break. I take several mini-vacations throughout the year. These short breaks not only help to reduce stress, but they also help me to be more productive when I return to work.
I’m not talking about spending extra hours at the office. I’m talking about getting busy in the bedroom. Sex is one of the best stress reducers known to man. Having sex is a great workout and it releases endorphins which helps you to relax. Best of all, it’s fun.