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Research suggests that men prefer problem-focused methods of handling stressful experiences (Endler & Parker, 1990; Matud, 2004). What this translates to, is that men handle difficult situations in ways which may not necessarily include any direct reflections of their own emotions. However, during stressful periods research has suggested that men tend to use the following strategies to alleviate their moods:

  • Eating healthy
  • Providing one’s body with nutritious healthy food helps to enhance mood, increase energy levels, reduces depression, and helps with self-esteem.
  • Setting Goals
  • Setting goals helps individuals stay focused and give a sense of meaning to the individual.
  • Taking time out
  • Helps the individual with reflecting on oneself and their surroundings.
  • Helps the individual to calm down and unwind.
  • Keeping busy
  • This helps individuals tune out of a particularly negative frame of mind when things get overwhelming.
  • Exercising
  • Provides one’s body with a sensation of release and a feel-good factor due to the change in neurochemistry within the brain.
  • Achieving Something
  • Provides a sense of achievement and helps the individual think differently about himself. In which there is more of a tendency to use positive coping mechanisms as a way to defend oneself when one encounters stress.
  • Humour
  • Increases endorphins in our brain which helps reduce stress as well as relaxes and vitalizes our emotional wellbeing.
  • Rewarding Themselves
  • It increases motivation, boosts happiness and enhances the individual’s self-worth.
  • Helping others
  • Helping others makes the individual feel good whilst it also gives the individual a sense of purpose.
  • Spending time with a pet
  • Pets make individuals feel needed.
  • Increases their self-esteem.
  • Pets help build social connections.
  • Pets provide unconditional love.

This does not mean that men do not express their emotions, neither does it mean that these are the only ways in which men cope. It is difficult to generalise the behaviour of all male behaviour, however research does suggest that within their samples of males they tend to use problem focused coping more than their female counterparts. It is also important to note that one’s own belief system about masculinity has an effect on the ability for a male to engage in healthy coping strategies. If the belief amongst the males which one admires is that – positive coping mechanisms are futile, then the individual is less likely to engage in a positive coping strategy.

Reference:

  • Proudfoot, J., Fogarty, A. S., McTigue, I., Nathan, S., Whittle, E. L., Christensen, H., Wilhelm, K. (2015). Positive strategies men regularly use to prevent and manage depression: a national survey of Australian men. BMC public health, 15, 1135. doi:10.1186/s12889-015-2478-7

Karl Grech is a counsellor. He offers counselling to both individuals and couples within Willingness. He can be contacted on karl@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.