Relationships

Relationships

The world is more connected than ever, or at least the Internet makes it seem that way. But research shows that that many men feel alone with their struggles. Responsibilities at work and at home and squeezing every drop out of every day, hour, and minute can leave a person living “in his head” and feeling as if his thoughts are his only companion. Men have replaced bowling nights and Sunday softball games with quick posts on social media or a snarky comment to a friend’s Tom Brady meme.

Here are the facts: A review of 148 research studies (with 308,849 total subjects) found that loneliness is just as harmful to health as alcoholism, smoking 15 cigarettes a day, or not exercising. If you’re feeling lonely or isolated from friends and loved ones, that feeling could be a sign from your body that you need to connect with others. People are social beings who benefit from being part of the “pack.” Here are three things you can try to help you feel less alone:

  • Social media isn’t enough – Keeping up with your friends on Facebook is great, but don’t mistake it for real-world connections. The Internet can also send you down all kinds of unproductive paths that add additional stressors to your plate (finding the perfect version of the gizmo you’ve been wanting to buy, wondering what your old girlfriend is doing, reading political news one story after another).
  • Your phone makes calls too – Checking the latest news on your phone and texting away is great, but a real conversation is something that connects you with others in a genuine way. Just saying ‘Hey’ and asking a friend what’s up can go a long way toward letting others know you care about them at the same time you’re taking good care of yourself.
  • Invite a buddy – Go to a concert, check out a ball game, or just take a walk. Ask a neighbor for some help with a household task you know he’d be interested in—or just ask for his advice. Think about people you’d like to know better, set aside your shyness or reluctance, and be spontaneous about reaching out.
  • Find a group –  Look for group activities that interest you whether it’s volunteering for a cause that’s meaningful to you, joining a adult sports league, coaching youth sports, or training for a 5K. Having a scheduled activity will help you get out of the house and connect with others that share your interests.

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