June is mens mental health month but it’s not really been advertised that much here in the UK. It’s a sad fact that the biggest killer of men under 40 is suicide and yet it feels as though nothing is being done to help rectify the problems men face in modern society. As someone who speaks openly about mental health and the experiences I have encountered, I wanted to help raise more awareness and also, share some tips I have used to help myself improve and strengthen my overall mental wellbeing.

My trip to Mexico coincides with Mens Mental Health Awareness Month

Whilst in Mexico I had a lot of inspiration regarding mental health. Not in terms of how could I help others but on how my own mental health has been affected over the years. The last time I was in Mexico I was 24 years old and now 38, turning 39 I began to reflect on the time that had passed.

At 24 I was a student Architect, amazed by the Mayan temple Chichen Itza and feeling hopeful of becoming a fully qualified building architect. It was at this time I also suffered 3 deaths in the family. My nan, my gran and my grandad all within 3 years of one another. I vowed to become the best architect I could in memory of my grandad, also a creative at heart, but it wasn’t to be.  The 2008 recession coincided with architect part 1 graduation.

Due to this, there were no vacancies in my local area at that time. I was devastated and I can admit, that I held onto this disappointment for the whole 15 years that had passed. Not healthy as it was a painful thing to hold on to but it was a driver and motivator to help me do well at web design instead.

In the next section of this article, you will find 10 reflections I learned whilst in Mexico. I believe by sharing these you may find something that could help improve your own mens mental health.

1. Know it’s ok to cry, in fact, it’s healing

It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, holding onto repressed emotions only harbours them and makes you less of who you are and turns into negative behaviours. Crying helps you feel better and releases the pain of the past…

On the first day on Isla Mujeres, the weather was not great, there were even threats of hurricanes. Being around such volatile weather on a beautiful island, rushing waves and a few mojitos ( plus tequila shots ) hit me. My emotional flood gates of pain opened up and released over 15 years of pain. I’m not ashamed to admit I released some tears of hurt whilst by the bar.

The last time I was in Mexico I was an architect student in my 2nd year and just lost my grandad. I didn’t become an architect and it hurt like hell…

…it’d been an emotional day as I turned 39 on this day. I began reflecting on my past and the future yet to come as I become a lead brand designer for a major mental health and performance company.

John at Isla Mujeres reflecting on mens mental health awareness month

It’s surreal to think I taught myself web and branding over the last 10 years but dreamed of designing buildings. Instead, I’m now doing this plus freelance web design, being an NLP practitioner and founder of Seek A Therapy to try to help others.

Finally, I can honestly say when I look at my partner I truly see my soul mate. She heals me, helps me understand myself with compassion and allows me space to process my feelings and allows me to be myself. She helps to bring my old fun silly parts to myself again.

The greatest birthday gift… Kind, beautiful and compassionate. Truly blessed.

I guess the message here is to take yourself back to the trauma you experienced and process it and also, surround yourself with people who support you and let those who you feel bring you down go. You are a by-product of the people you surround yourself with so be careful who you choose to spend time with and listen to.

2. Learning to laugh at yourself can aid mens mental health

Laugh at yourself. When you learn to laugh at your shortcomings then no one has power over you.  There is great freedom to be found in laughter. You don’t have to laugh at others, that’s not so cool, just be light-hearted rather than hard on yourself. Take everything lightly, ‘with a pinch of salt’. The more you recognise your own stupidity, your clown side, the more you become confident.

When you laugh you relax and you can be yourself more and not care what people think of you.

You free yourself from the judgement of others and more critically, the judgement of yourself.

The more you can laugh at yourself and your life mistakes the more power you have over your own emotions and those wanting to hurt you or lower your self-esteem. They can’t as you already see your life as a bit of a folly.

I learnt this from a waiter today. He took the mick out of me by saying things in Spanish which I found hysterical. I tried to reply in Spanish but sometimes I said the wrong response. He would say “Oh excuse me!” every time I spoke Spanish, he would respond this way, in a very camp way but it tickled me.

I didn’t care he was mocking me, he was light-hearted and in fact, I enjoyed it. He was a good man and he showed me not to care what others think and learn to laugh at myself rather than ridicule myself for shortcomings.

This was a major lesson very early on in my trip to Mexico, humour is a powerful healer and tries not to take yourself too seriously all the time.

3.Recognise you don’t need approval from anyone other than yourself

People will always be people. They will have insecurities, and weaknesses and want to project their baggage onto people. It helps them to make sense of their world or release their own pain. They particularly do it when they deem you to be better in some way or something different that they don’t understand or accept in their model of the world. Often those who point fingers have LOTS of disappointments of life inside of them.

It’s important to keep in mind when people judge others it is not a reflection of you or your shortcomings but a reflection of work that they need to do on themselves instead. No one who judges or bullies is at peace. That’s some powerful reflection to keep in mind when you encounter a nasty person.

Stand back, take a deep breathe, smile and show no matter how people act towards you you are calm.

4. Make time to do NOTHING to improve mens mental health

It’s really difficult for many of us to actually stop.

For me, I admit that I am a major workaholic, sometimes too ambitious and feel the time is short. I can often be too hard on myself for not achieving more, I know it. I work myself like a dog and when I’m not working I’m doing “something”!

On reflection, it may be a distraction from how I truly feel and my emotions. Pains, disappointments, self-judgements, anxieties and worries. I was meant to swim with dolphins today but I decided not to.

This was even an act of having to do something!

Firstly, my anxiety was up, secondly, my partner was nervous about doing it and thirdly, we both felt a bit uneasy at the idea of captive animals doing tricks for food and we decided to abort. Instead, we decided to enjoy our amazing hotel resort and chill at Playa Norte private island on Isla mujeres!

take time out to aid mens mental health

When you stop, you allow yourself time to recharge, slow down and be at peace. It reduces your anxieties over work, traumas and life in general.

Doing nothing is actually one of the most important things you can do for your own well-being.

Rest.

Take it easy.

At least twice a week and you’ll find more smiles and happiness develop in your life.

5. Set your boundaries, take no prisoners and love yourself

The title may sound egotistical and harsh but when it comes to life, if you allow people to take advantage of your good nature, they will. If you want the best deal in a sales exp then you must stand your ground even if it means coming across as unlikeable.

Being liked by everyone IS NOT IMPORTANT liking YOURSELF is!

learn to laugh to aid mens mental health
Whilst in Mexico there was a day we had a sales meeting. I outright told the sales manager to stick his offer to tie me into a contract for 3 years of 160 pounds each month telling him I can get high-quality Airbnb for that without flights so why should I commit to something like that? When the time is right I’ll buy the first-class exp when my business takes off no need for tie-ins!
He got upset and said it’s good for Americans and I replied ‘probably because they don’t have time to think’. 😂 Don’t think they expected someone ready for a fight…😂
The lesson here is to set boundaries, don’t be pulled into people’s emotional games. Stand tall and love yourself. Don’t give a crap what people think of you, it only matters what YOU THINK and I’ll be honest, I’m pretty amazing. 😉 This is the attitude you need to develop. You can do this by writing a list of your positive traits and things you are grateful for. Start small like being a good cook or good at art and work your way up from there.

6. Realise everyone is insecure and no one is really focused on you, they are focused more on themselves

A huge lesson is to be aware that everyone is massively insecure.
I drank quite a lot of tequila and mojitos when I came to this realisation but when we are sober we are so into all our own sh*t that we forget to realise everyone else is also facing their own daily sh*t too and so mostly focused on themselves.
We can all feel that everyone is focused on us because we are focused on ourselves when sober. Who the hell gives a flying monkey about us!?!? No one!!! That is reality.
The only person they truly care about is themselves.
Live is survival and it’s all about what matters to them.
Live life, live happily, stand tall but always respect, when you can, the lives of others. We are all dealing with a difficult life journey so be kind to one another and understand those who aren’t kind are probably struggling on their path right now.

7. You don’t have to be doing what everyone else is to have a peaceful life

You don’t have to “keep busy” or do things to keep up appearances or get the next great Instagram post!
Sometimes when we travel or we go somewhere new we think we need to go everywhere under the sun.
We want to experience EVERY ATTRACTION.
We can’t miss out on any of the amazing sites and we want to share that we’ve seen it and done it but why?
Is it about keeping up appearances? Or maybe about going to look at what I’ve done and you haven’t (yet)? Is it a little bit of ego or are you doing it for pure enjoyment?
In reality, all we need in life is a sense of peace.
We don’t have to be on speedboats. Nor do need to see the best show in Mexico. We don’t need to swim with dolphins. We don’t need dinner in a cave. All we need truly need is peace of mind however that comes.
Peace of mind is the greatest of all virtues that few experience often in life.
learn to relax to aid mens mental health
A simple life can equal a beautiful life. Learning the simplest of things in life, like a walk in nature or sitting and enjoying a sunrise or sunset can be extremely fruitful for mens mental health, you don’t need to impress anyone or keep up appearances.

8. Sit with your pain in order to process it to strengthen and improve your mental health

SIT WITH YOUR PAIN in quiet to process it. Stop using distractions and learn to feel and accept more.
When we experience an unpleasant emotion whether judgement, ridicule, disappointment or loss it can be extremely painful emotionally and we try to avoid the feeling.
Some people drink, some others get busier at work, and others isolate themselves. We all have our own way to cope with what life throws at us and often, they aren’t healthy methods of coping or more importantly, healing.
Choosing to sit with these unwanted emotional feelings to process them fully. We must observe how we feel and understand why we are feeling what we are, can we learn from it and not suppress feeling any hurt.
Finding a quiet space, put some music on that’s therapeutic and allow yourself to FEEL THE PAIN.
Next, once you have processed the feeling how can you approach it in future? Teach yourself to fake the emotion till eventually, it rewires your brain.
Eventually, you’ll overcome these emotional reactions and grow into a higher and stronger emotional body. If you are struggling to release the pain you are carrying it is recommended to seek a therapy. Therapy can aid in improving mens mental health.

9. Unresolved trauma can ruin your life experience, get therapy to support you to resolve your issues

Unresolved trauma will RUIN your life experience if you don’t learn how to STOP your triggers and alter your REACTIONS.
In life, we experience things that sometimes we don’t realise were traumatic for us to go through.
To cope in life we naturally bury feelings as deeply as we can, particularly as men, so we are able to function as much as possible in life. This isn’t great for mens mental health.
We then use things like distractions and addictions to keep the trauma suppressed it can become bad for our health. Learn to look at the pain and sit with it. We forget we have the power to go about altering the feelings we get when we become triggered with the help of a trauma specialist, or even NLP skills. Unresolved trauma is more common in so many of us men and there are ways we can deal with it and even learn to change or learn from it. If you need support to do this then seeking the support of a therapist can help. Whether a counsellor, EFT, NLP Practitioner, EMDR therapist or Life Coach, there is a way to work through your trauma.

10. Learning to be aware of our reactions to triggers can change the emotion we respond with

Using humour as a way to cope with stressful events or difficult people rather than using anger and confrontation is going to leave you feeling lighter than being ready for a fight which energetically leaves you feeling drained. As men are full of testosterone many of us will be confrontational when threatened. It’s not the right way to deal with difficult experiences though.
In life, we all experience people that become jealous, judgemental or project insecurities and we can become upset, closed, angry or defensive.
Instead of reacting with negative emotions of anger and upset learn to find the funny side. Be more clown-like than aggressive and defensive. Then, whatever is projected at you is turned into a positive emotion. It takes away the tension from the situation. It takes practice but it is possible. To learn how to change your emotional reactions it is worth speaking to an NLP master about your feelings and what you would like to alter.

A few more tips to aid mens mental health

Here are a few more tips not included within the reflections : –

  1. Learn to meditate. Use guided meditations
  2. Excercise. Start going to the gym. If you suffer from anxiety read this post on how to start going to the gym if you have anxiety.
  3. Enjoy yourself. Do things you enjoy to change your mood.
  4. Read self-development books. This will give you more knowledge from the experts.
  5. Keep a journal as this can allow you to empty your head day of thoughts. Whether business, work or personal reasons.

I hope you’ve found this article useful and if you have any other tips please leave a comment below.

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