This year, Men’s Health Week falls on 12th – 18th June. The annual event (organised by the Men’s Health Forum) aims to raise awareness of health issues that disproportionately affect men and boys and offers resources to help anyone who may be affected.
The theme this year is ‘men’s health and the internet’ – which looks at the implications of too much screen time on men’s health.
Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain that makes you feel good and is responsible for allowing you to feel pleasure, satisfaction and motivation. When you’ve achieved something and get that sense of accomplishment, it’s because you have a surge of dopamine in the brain. It’s possible, however, that you start craving more of this dopamine ‘reward’ and can become addicted to whatever it is that provides you with this. Smart phones are a dopamine-delivery device and every single app you use is designed to keep you using it. Smart phone addictions don’t sound too damaging in the grand scheme of things, but this can cost us time – time that would be better spent focusing on more meaningful things.
Dopamine is also released through exercise alongside other neurotransmitters, which makes it a great alternative to scrolling through social media. Investing in yourself and spending time doing something more beneficial to your overall health can make a huge difference in many aspects of your life. We’ve listed some examples below:
Sometimes when we feel sluggish and tired it’s our bodies way of telling us we need to rest – and it’s important to listen! However, sometimes when we’re feeling this way it could actually just be through lack of motivation. Scrolling through social media is probably one of the biggest ways we procrastinate; and by the time we’ve finally put our phone down and come back to the real world we don’t feel like doing much anymore, even if you had every intention of going for a run or nipping to the shops. On the flip side, if we had been for that run when we intended to, our brains would have received that hit of feel-good chemicals and we’d be feeling much more uplifted and energised. It sounds bizarre, but sometimes moving your body or being productive in any way can actually make us feel less tired and more motivated to continue ticking things off our to-do list.
- Social life
Investing time in yourself, whether that’s through the gym, meditation, reading or anything else you enjoy doing, could help to improve your social life. When you feel good, it shows, so those around you will notice this and may even feel better themselves as positivity is contagious! This will lead to more enriching interactions with friends and family and you could even get them involved in your hobbies if they enjoy the same activities. Take them with you for a run or walk, attend a class together or learn a new skill.
- Mental health
The effects social media can have on women is talked about a lot, but it’s not often highlighted that men can also experience the same pressures. Social media showcases the very best of everyone’s lives; their best angles, their most exciting plans, their seemingly ‘perfect’ life. It’s important to remember that this isn’t a true reflection of their life and only represents a small portion of their experiences. If we’re sat at home on a Friday night with no plans and see what feels like the whole of Instagram out with friends, it’s easy to feel down and target these negative feelings within. This is the perfect time to challenge these negative thoughts and instead of letting them in, push them away! We know it’s not always that easy, but before they can linger for too long, try putting your phone down and do something for yourself. This could be some yoga in the living room, calling a friend or family member for a chat, heading to the gym, or even washing those pots that you’ve been putting off doing! We use our phones a lot as a way of preventing boredom or just passing the time, however sometimes our favourite devices can be causing damage to our mental health, so taking a step back now and again can be a welcome breath of fresh air and a snap back to reality.
- Physical health
Improving your physical health by being more active doesn’t have to mean losing weight or working towards a specific goal. The benefits exercise can have on your physical health are not always something we can see. Regular exercise can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes to name a few. Whatever your age, there’s strong scientific evidence that being active can help you lead a healthier and happier life. To stay healthy, it’s recommended that adults should aim to do at least 150-minutes of physical activity per week. For most people, the easiest way to do this is to make activity part of everyday life, such as walking or cycling to work instead of driving. All forms of activity count, as long as it raises your heart rate, makes you breathe faster and feel warmer. Choosing a form of exercise that you enjoy will mean you’ll be more likely to stick at it and make it part of your routine.
We’re not saying that phones are all bad, they provide us with all the information we could possibly need at the click of a button, enable us to stay in touch with loved ones and can even help keep us safe while out and about. It is important however to try and split up your free time so you are also investing in yourself and taking part in activities that support a healthier, happier lifestyle.
If you or a man in your life could benefit from further advice and resources, please visit https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/mhw