It’s so important to allow yourself to feel your feelings.
Our moods naturally fluctuate, and nobody is content 100% of the time—far from it!
As humans, we’re just not wired this way.
So allow yourself to feel overwhelmed, low or anxious, and try not to suppress or beat yourself up about it. Self-compassion is key.
We’re wired more for suffering than we are for happiness. We’re ‘threat-focused’, meaning our brain operates in a way that causes us to focus more on the negatives than the positives.
Being threat-focused helped our ancestors to survive. For us, being threat-focused can lead to regular feelings of overwhelm, low mood and anxiety, if we don’t have the methods in place to deal with it.
Expressing our distressing feelings is a key step to diffusing their intensity. So, cry if you feel like it. If you struggle to express your emotions, you could try watching a sad film or listening to sad music to help trigger their expression. Afterwards, you may feel an immediate sense of relief.
This method is especially important for men.
Research shows that women reach out to others significantly more than men. This even relates to a theory around women’s higher life expectancies; the hypothesis is that the male response to stress (which includes higher levels of social withdrawal, aggression, and substance abuse) puts them at higher risk for adverse health-related consequences.
In contrast, the ‘tend and befriend response'—involving reaching out—is used more by women and has been shown to reduce our stress response by lowering heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol, and thus is protective to health.
“I know a man who would rather die than tell another man that they’re hurting. But it’s not because we’re just all strong silent types. A lot of us men are really good at making friends and talking—just not about anything real.”
- Justin Baldoni
"When I did [speak out], something amazing happened. I realised that I wasn't alone, because my guys had also been struggling. And as soon as I found the strength and the courage to share my shame, it was gone."
- Justin Baldoni
In his TED Talk, Justin Baldoni eloquently explains how men can overcome the culture of toxic masculinity.
Full TED Talk 'Why I'm done trying to be "man enough"' here.
Ways to Express Feelings:
- Talk about how you feel to your close ones—talking with others can be powerfully therapeutic. So powerful in fact, it’s an inbuilt biological instinct. Research shows we release a hormone, oxytocin, which encourages us to seek social support in difficult times
- Express your feelings through journaling
- Talk to a volunteer listener, who you can find through websites, apps or helplines
- Talk to a trained professional