VIA: Men’s Health
Big little stressor No. 1: Insecurity
Not surprisingly, paying bills, managing debt and sticking to a budget scored highest of all the stressors in our survey. But guess what? It’s not about the money, says Thomas Miller, Ph.D., a University of Kentucky psychologist and the author of Handbook of Stressful Life Transitions Across the Lifespan. “Much financial stress actually has to do with uncertainty—about your money situation, yes, but that really means your job. Not knowing specifics about where you stand eats at you like acid.”
Defuse it: Go on a fact-finding mission, Miller says. Demand answers to those elephant-in-the-room questions at work. Ask your boss how you fit into the company’s plans, or what you can do to make yourself more valuable. If he pauses or doesn’t appear truthful, push him with “Can you be more specific?” or even “So do you think I should be concerned?” “The more answers you’re given about your situation, the more clarity you’ll have—and clarity equals control,” Miller says.
Bonus tip: Worried about your job? Relieve your stress by using these 6 tricks to prevent being laid off.
Big little stressor No. 2: Hair loss
More than half the men in our poll felt stressed about their images, and many specified hair loss as the mane, er, main culprit. They’re not alone: A 2005 Mayo Clinic Proceedings review cites multiple studies showing that male pattern baldness negatively affects men’s feelings of attractiveness and body image. “For those guys who are feeling judged by their hair loss, the stress is very real,” Good says.
Defuse it: Reframe the problem as a medical issue, Good suggests. Treating hair loss with transplants costs $4,500 on average, while drug treatments can cost as much as $60 a month, for decades. Then run the numbers and decide if the expense is truly worth it to you, Good says. If it is, then go for it. But if you think you can deal with it as a mere medical inconvenience, you’ll be more easily able to snuff out this stressor.
Bonus tip: Find out which hair-loss treatments work best—and which you shouldn’t waste your money on—here.
Big little stressor No. 3: Exercise
How’s this for a bitter irony: Exercise is a well-known stress buster, yet nearly a third of the men in our poll rated sticking to an exercise program a 7 or higher on a 10-point stress scale. First, you stress about missing a workout or not exercising at all. Second, as you attempt to carve out time to exercise, your stress skyrockets as you cram in all the other things you need to accomplish that day. “That struggle may affect how and what you’re eating,” Miller says, “and now your food intake becomes a stressor.”
Defuse it: Miller suggests portion control—for your workout schedule. Shrink your exercise “portions” by boosting intensity: Turn your cardio routine into a shorter interval workout that alternates sprints with your normal pace. (You’ll also boost fat-burning this way.) If you’re lifting weights, cut your between-set rest in half—go from a minute to 30 seconds between each of 12 sets, and you’ll save six minutes. Then look for ways to condense other activities: showering, cooking, surfing the Web, and so forth. You have the time. You simply have to own it.
Bonus tip: Always have a workout on hand with the upgraded Men’s Health iPhone app. It’s like having your own personal trainer, 24/7, wherever you go.