The relationship of most men and stress is short term and simplistic. The single symptom which is easily recognized and most readily associated with a stressful situation is a mood change. “Dad’s grumpy” or “dad is out of sorts”. He had a tough day.
They think it’s all psychological and just a passing moment. So, they treat the symptom by resting for a while, their mood shifts back and nothing else really changes to relieve the stress long term.
The fact is, more often than not, anxiety manifests in symptoms that are more physical than mental. These can include such wide-ranging problems as chest pain, shortness of breath, exhaustion, muscle pain, dizziness, indigestion, constipation, sweating, skin irritations, sleep disturbances, and more.
Men tend to either ignore physical symptoms, try to just work through them on their own, or associate them with something else. The above symptoms could reasonably be too much exercise, not enough to eat at lunch, spicy food, tight clothing, the wrong detergent or any number of other causes. Men want immediate, logical explanations to problem and, “it’s all in your head” or “you’re mind is telling you to take it easy” are not it. But, the fact is, stress and anxiety are in the head and since your brain controls your body, in the long run, that is where the problem often lies. The mind and body are not really separate entities.
Further, men get embarrassed and uncomfortable going to a doctor with seemingly unexplained symptoms, especially multiple ones that appear unconnected. It’s more in the male nature to “tough it out.” So, the actual causes of the stress persist, the symptoms get worse, including a decreased immune function and sometimes lead to longer-term issues. When anxiety is ignored or pushed down, it will find a way to express itself. Men need to be aware of physical symptoms before they become harmful or permanent.
Health professionals and men themselves tend to stigmatize any complaining as weakness or hypochondriac behaviour. However, looking at the larger picture, and understanding that your body knows when it needs to tell you something, are crucial to preventing stress from overcoming you.
Understanding that stress is physical as well as psychological is key to knowing when it’s time to take steps to reduce the sources of anxiety in your life and get your health back on track.