Rest Yourself

Can we really trust men to take care of themselves? Sazia Sharmin ponders over men’s healthcare

Men often get a bad reputation for being selfish. In fact, a large-scale research project carried out by the University of Queensland last year found that men are less empathetic toward their partners in comparison to women. Yet another study published in the British Medical Journal proved that considering men’s frequency of risk-seeking behaviour, emergency department admissions and mortality, men behave like idiots much more than women. There’s even something called a ‘male idiot theory!’ Don’t worry. A prominent male rights activist has declared these studies have “little to do with real science and more to do with perpetuating the gynocentric social agenda to cast all men as inferior and to project women as superior.” You choose which side you’d like to believe. Meanwhile, in their drive to perform, excel and live life to the fullest, it’s quite easy for men to neglect self-care. Here are some quick tips that would help!

Stay true to your heart
The two leading causes of men’s death are cardiovascular diseases and strokes are. For reasons yet unknown, men’s arteries develop atherosclerosis earlier than women. Also, men’s average age for death from cardiovascular disease is lower than women’s. Men actually have to work harder than women to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. So what should you do? Get your cholesterol checked regularly, starting as early as age twenty five. Take all the common sense measures that we know about: get active, eat healthy, stop smoking!

Don’t go mental
Men don’t cry. They don’t get depressed like women do, right? Wrong! When men get depressed, they are more likely to get angry or aggressive rather than sad and tearful. They are also less likely to admit it or seek help. They often self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. While women attempt suicide more often, according to statistics men are much more successful at committing it. If you are not feeling alright, please take the time to pay attention to your emotions and find support. Have a positive coping mechanism for potential setbacks. There is really nothing manly about hiding your true feelings.

Eat healthy
Yes, there are a lot of us who live to eat, however stuffing down fried potatoes and greasy beef on a regular basis doesn’t sit too well with our system. Avoid carbonated and energy drinks, and opt for smoothies or better yet, good old plain water. You don’t have to follow the latest fad diet and make a fuss about it. But you can eat consciously using your common sense and primary school learning about a balanced diet! Particularly, men need more protein than women, especially if they are physically active. To get some idea on how much protein you need, it’s roughly equivalent to your weight in grams. For example, if you weigh eighty two kilograms, you need about eighty two grams of protein daily. Having a protein rich dinner will help repair your muscle mass as you sleep at night.

Perpetuate your legacy: procreate!
You are one amazing man who has worked hard to come where you are today. Now perpetuate your legacy by taking care of your fertility. While men’s fertility doesn’t drop as fast as that of women past the age of thirty five, the amount and integrity of their sperm is compromised, warns the Male Reproductive Medicine unit at McGill University. Age can be a factor in male infertility, as well as genetic issues such as Down’s Syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, haemophilia or Duchene muscular dystrophy. Lifestyle and environmental toxins are a major cause for concern. Various chemical products widely available in hair products, plastics, pesticides, paint and mechanical grease have been proven to adversely affect male fertility. Excessive exposure to heat in your work environment, regularly wearing skinny jeans or even a laptop placed near a man’s crotch can affect testicular function. Most of all get over taboos and address issues that may affect your fertility without embarrassment.

Do a digital detox
It used to be just the TV, but now there’s an epidemic of full-on gadget addiction among men the world over! To be honest, it affects women just as much. We all seem to be so connected to our gadgets that we live in a state of ‘continuous partial attention’. Our compulsion with pictures, messages and social media makes us scan the horizon for something more interesting or urgent at all times, rather than focusing on what’s in front of us and taking it all in. While it gives us this high of being ‘on’ all the time, it also raises our stress levels and puts strain on personal relationships. We haven’t adapted as fast as consumer technology has evolved, so instagramming does not exercise the same brain parts as sketching does. Texting does not give us the same satisfaction as writing or having a face to face conversation. In the near future, those who will learn to ignore the urgency of blinking notifications and focus on the true present priority will be the ones to succeed. It’s time we learn to disconnect and do a digital detox on a regular basis. Perhaps it wouldn’t be the end of the world to really go offline at times? Give it a shot.

* Illustration by Jason Sabbir Dhali