Taking care of yourself during COVID-19 – a guide for men’s health week
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in December 2019, the statistics surrounding the virus have been showing that men are disproportionately affected by coronavirus, compared with women. That’s why the theme of this year’s Men’s Health Week is: ‘take action on COVID-19’.
Whilst the data surrounding the virus is still new, and we are learning about it every single day, there is one glaring statistic that has come to the fore: men are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as women.
That’s why men must take steps to look after themselves during the pandemic, both physically and mentally.
We are in unprecedented times – it’s very likely that none of us have lived through a global pandemic (unless you’re 102 years old, and experienced the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918) – therefore, it’s totally normal to be feeling overwhelmed and helpless in the face of COVID-19.
At HOPELINE247 – PAPYRUS’s dedicated suicide prevention helpline – nine out of ten callers have mentioned COVID-19 in some form. Whether it’s struggling with the isolation, or shielding from family and friends, to fear of the virus itself. Our suicide prevention advisers have been helping callers to stay safe in this moment, and working with young people to disable plans for suicide.
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 35 – and our team of suicide prevention advisers are always here for you, if you need to talk.
As a man, it’s helpful to acknowledge that there are some things that you can do at home, to keep yourself safe from COVID-19 and to help with your mental wellbeing at the same time.
Stick to the government guidelines
Although hailed as vague and confusing by many members of society – the government guidelines around social distancing are important to stop the spread of COVID-19. By making sure that you’re adhering to social distancing guidelines, you’re not only looking after your physical health, but you’re helping with your mental health as well. You can’t control if other people abide by the rules, but you can control if you do.
Spending time at home
Spending time at home can be daunting for many people – especially those who are living in a single person household; those who perhaps have a fraught home environment; or men who are used to being busy all day in their line of work. Try – if you can – to reframe your time at home. Read the books you’ve always wanted to read. Finish that TV series that has been on your Netflix list. Try your hand at something new.
Over the past couple of years the men’s self-care market has been steadily growing. Self-care has historically been commodified by marketers the world over as a female-focused activity. Self-care is an extremely important habit to get into regardless of sex or gender, and you can start very basically with a skincare routine. Start small, taking your hands as a good example; a good washing and moisturising routine not only gives you five minutes of uninterrupted focus throughout each day, but it also helps to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Rethink your stress management tools
If, before lockdown, you would head to the gym or the local pub as part of your stress management routine, then you’re likely feeling a little lost without these constants in your life. Instead, you need to try and reframe your typical stress management tools. Try swapping a shower for a bath once a week; baths are proven to reduce fatigue and boost mood. Aromatherapy is also a good way to navigate your moods and manage your wellbeing.
Focus on the present moment
It’s easy to get caught up in the endless rolling news and social media feeds that all seem to be debating the likelihood of a vaccine, or whether there will be a second spike… Worrying about future outcomes have a negative effect on our mental wellbeing today, and can actually cause undue stress. Instead, take some time each day to focus on the here and now – apps like Headspace or Calm are great for this.
Following on from the previous point, acupressure is a great way of putting some (good) pressure on yourself. And you can do it from the comfort of your own home. To relieve stress and anxiety, place pressure on known pressure points on the body to experience a sense of calm. Place some pressure on your inside wrist about one inch down from the hand crease – this is known to reduce anxiety and helps regulate energy. The spot below your knee, to the side of your shinbone is another pressure point to focus on – drum this spot for 30 seconds with your fingers, and it has been said to boost energy.
Finally, it’s important to remember that we are all in this together. We might not all be having the same experiences of COVID-19, we might not all be necessarily in the same boat – but we are all weathering the same storm.
If you or a young person you know if struggling with thoughts of suicide, HOPELINE247 is here for you, seven days per week, 365 days of the year.
Call: 0800 068 41 41
Text: 07860 039 967