With June being Men’s Health Month and 60% of men not going to the doctor when facing a medical issue, it is important to spread awareness of the potential health risks they face. Male nurses in particular face high levels of stress, causing plenty of potential harm to their health.
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, nursing became a career path associated with women and femininity. From what we viewed on television and in popular culture, to what we were predominately seeing in person, nursing was touted as female. For decades, the occupation has held this stigma and males within the field were viewed as lesser men. Having actually originated as a male dominated career, modern nursing is seeing a resurgence in males. As the stereotypes and stigmas surrounding men in nursing begin to fade as the number of male nurses increases, it becomes increasingly important to look at how the career impacts a man’s health.
Stress is prevalent in almost any person’s life and career. However, nurses often experience higher levels of stress due to the high stakes nature of their day to day work environment. A study using male and female nurses as respondents revealed that male nurses reported a significantly higher amount of stressors than female nurses at work. This increased number of stressors male nurses are exposed to makes them more prone to health related issues that have the potential to seriously impact their well-being. June is Men’s Health Month, there is no better excuse to start evaluating the stressors in your life and recognize the potential harm they can cause an dthen start utilizing a long term solution. The little changes you make now can lead to a larger impact later on.
The most worrisome of the potential health risks associated with stress for men is heart disease. Statistically more than one in three men suffers from some form of it. This includes high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, high cholesterol, and other heart related issues. Heart disease is also the leading cause of death in men. As nursing is a high stress job, there is worry that those in the field would be at a higher risk for some form of heart disease. Male nurses should therefore be regularly scheduling and attending their own doctor’s appointments so as to have their heart checked on a regular basis.
Everyone has bad days, but repeated exposure to high levels of stress can lead to depression. Depression in men does not always mean extreme sadness, but can often mean increased aggression and anger. Because men are stereotypically supposed to appear as a pillar of strength, it can often be hard for them to open up and share how they are feeling. This can happen even more so with male nurses who are already in a field still widely viewed as feminine. They may be more prone to hold feelings in so they can appear more masculine. In actuality, they need to find an outlet where they can express their true feelings and get them out into the open; this will be healthy for them and those surrounding them.
Feeling high amounts of stress can also lead to obesity, which is three times more likely to kill men. Often, when people feel stressed they eat comfort food that is not necessarily the best for them and are too exhausted to exercise. These issues get even worse when you factor in a nurse’s schedule. Working long shifts and often performing overtime leaves little time for yourself to eat right and exercise; add to that exhaustion from stress and you have a risk for becoming overweight or obese. Taking even a few minutes after you wake up to do some yoga, or parking a little further away to extend your walk can make a small difference.
Higher levels of stress can also impact how your hair grows, or doesn’t. Hair loss is very common among men, with 85 percent of men experiencing some form of it by the time they are 50. Given the amount of stress male nurses are under, preventative hair loss measures should be taken. Hair loss is completely treatable with the right products, including a topical solution like minoxidil or a prescription medication like finasteride. For male nurses, taking the time to care for yourself and use these types of products can decrease the stress you may feel over losing hair and help you feel more confident in and better about yourself.
There is no better time than this Men’s Health Month to take the time and think about how the stressors in your life are impacting your health. The self recognition you find this month can lead to action for the duration of the year. There are a plethora of individual techniques that can help you relieve and reduce stress. The team of clinicians, researchers, and mental health advocates at Heads Up Guys have comprised a stress in men information base with tips, tools and information. They recommend coping techniques including deep breathing, taking a step away from the situation, walking away and talking about it. In the constantly busy and always moving lives of male nurses, even taking a couple of seconds in between patients to close your eyes and take a few deep breaths can work wonders in clearing your mind.