Empowering Healthy Masculinity
By: Daralyse Lyons
It’s Movember. No, that’s not a typo. “Movember” is an amalgamation of the words November and mo (a sometimes-used shorthand for mustache). So what does the eleventh month of the year have to do with facial hair? By asking men all across the world to set aside their razors, the Movember Foundation is looking to “change the face of men’s health.” Their efforts don’t stop at hair growth. On the contrary, the foundation has used the growth of mustaches and beards as conversation starters. Male facial hair is a symbol and a catalyst for raising funds and awareness as part of a massive initiative to eradicate prostate and testicular cancer, depression, suicidal ideation, and other physiological and psychological health issues that are afflicting men. Whether you let your facial hair grow or not, practice the following healthy habits and encourage the men in your life to do the same.
5 Ways to Encourage Men’s Health:
- Heal hearts.
In the United States, heart disease is the number one killer of men. In many cases, heart disease is preventable and, even when it’s not, there are numerous palliative interventions that have been shown to reduce the likelihood of a heart-related event. Maintaining a healthy eating and exercise regimen, reducing stress, and lowering blood pressure can all have a positive effect.
- Cough, cough. Get that prostate checked.
When it comes to cancer, early detection is critical. Many a man has resisted going to the doctor out of fear of the dreaded latex invasion only to later pay the ultimate price. You may be relieved to know that the American Cancer Society has changed its previous prostate cancer screening recommendation. Instead of its former everybody-over-a-certain-age-get-a-digital-exam advice, the organization is now recommending that, somewhere between the ages of 40 and 50, men begin speaking with their medical providers about whether or not screening is right for their specific circumstances. If it is, there is a blood test option available. That’s not to say that the oft-mocked, but also the oft-lifesaving digital rectal exam isn’t still used, but, depending on a variety of risk factors (age, ethnicity, genetics, family history, etc.), men can work with their doctors to determine the best screening approach for them. Advanced Age Management can discuss the benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy.
- Never retire from your purpose or your passion.
According to Cornell University professor Maria D. Fitzpatrick and University of Melbourne senior lecturer Timothy J. Moore, for many men, early retirement can be the kiss of death. In their seminal research study, Fitzpatrick and Moore demonstrated that there was a 20% increase in mortality among U.S. male workers who retired the month they turned 62. This death-rate spike was especially likely among single and divorced men. I don’t want to convey the impression that retirement is responsible for lowering male life expectancy, but unstructured time, social isolation, unhealthy habits, and feeling purposeless are some of the potential negative after-effects of exiting the work world. That’s not to say men have to remain employed forever, but they shouldn’t ever retire from doing things that give them a sense of meaning and purpose.
- Foster friendships, especially with other men.
Research suggests that, within their same-sex friendships, women share feelings, whereas men share activities. Although there are exceptions to every rule, when questioned about their relationships with other men, many confessed to concealing their feelings, hopes, dreams and insecurities. It’s no surprise that these same men said they often felt alone, even in their closest friendship relationships. Conversely, men who were more open with other men reported greater emotional and mental wellbeing.
The message is clear: We all crave connection and our emotional health improves when we are willing to be vulnerable with each other.
A word of warning: Since it may be more comfortable for men to bond in activity-based settings, instead of going to a bar for a beer, consider suggesting a run or an impromptu game of basketball. In other words, skip the wings and increase the steps.
- Allow for male vulnerability.
In her 2018 book, Confessions of 400 Men: True Revelations of Lust, Fidelity, Feelings & Fantasy, former Boca Raton Tribune columnist Heidi Doheny Jay writes about the conclusions she came to after interviewing 400 men about their wants, needs, desires, and feelings. My most important takeaway from Jay’s book was that men feel more deeply than they might let on and that, not only do they have emotions, they want to express them.
Because many men have been conditioned to appear stoic and self-contained, and because often both men and women don’t know how to react to male vulnerability, it’s essential for women to listen to men without judgment and for men to take the risk to share openly and often. For both men and women, emotional health can only be achieved through honesty, connection, and reciprocity.
If you’re looking to get involved in the Movember movement, check out the Movember Foundation’s website. Until then, let that facial hair grow!
About the author:
When Daralyse Lyons isn’t doing splits or jumping out of airplanes, this former yoga teacher and eternal adrenaline junkie can be found with a pen in hand furiously scribbling her latest novel. To date, she has written more than two dozen full-length books, a handful of short stories and countless articles. A member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the host of a successful podcast, an actress, a storyteller, and a summa cum laude graduate of NYU, Daralyse brings intelligence and enthusiasm to all her endeavors.
To find out more, or to connect with her, head over to www.daralyselyons.com.