Tom (not his real name) arrived at my office at 1 pm on a Tuesday. His wife had booked him in for a free one hour Overcome Anxiety Consultation. On the phone she’d told me Tom was stressed and overwhelmed. She was worried he was going to ‘have a complete meltdown’ at any moment, and that his mood swings were affecting their relationship. Could I see him asap?
Tom’s expression and body language told me he’d rather be anywhere in the world than my office at that moment.
“You’re wife said you’re experiencing a lot of stress right now?” I said.
“I’m not stressed!”
Really? I thought. He looked and sounded stressed. I’ve been helping people get better at managing stress and anxiety for a number of years and I know when someone is stressed. I imagined leaning over, pricking Tom with a pin, and watching him explode into a million pieces as all the pent up pressure he was feeling burst free.
“So how would you describe what you’re feeling?” I asked.
“Frustrated. Perhaps a little angry. There’s some stuff going on at work I’m not happy about.” He stared at me, holding my gaze. “But, I’m not stressed....,” he paused, “.... you know, I’m only here because my wife wanted me to come.”
I asked Tom about ‘the stuff’ going on at work. He told me he had a new boss, they didn’t see eye to eye, plus he was crazy busy on a big project but, he had it all under control.
I told Tom I was glad to hear he had it under control because, in today’s society many people are increasingly treating themselves as machines. They work through lunch, sleep too little, eat junk on the run, skip the gym, and prop up their flagging bodies with coffee or 'energy drinks'. By neglecting proper nutrition, sleep, rest, and exercise they put themselves on a fast track to chronic stress, burnout and stress-induced illness.
Tom nodded. “I’m not one of those people. I’m not stressed.”
“So how can I help you cope better with what’s going on at work?”
“I don’t need help. Like I said, I’m only here because my wife wanted me to come. Things will settle down at work soon.”
He didn’t sound convincing.
The session ended shortly afterwards. Tom practically ran from the room in his eagerness to get away. I haven’t seen or heard from him since.
"Men notoriously have trouble putting their feelings into words. They bottle things up so they're more subject to the damages of stress."
~ Edward Hallowell, MD
I'm certain Tom would have benefited greatly from some stress management coaching, but at that moment he was not ready to change. He was still denying to himself the reality of what was happening in his body and mind.
After the consultation with Tom, I stopped taking bookings from concerned wives wanting me to help their stressed husbands because I only want to work with people who have, themselves, made the decision to work with me.
I’ve met a lot of guys like Tom who are not ready to talk about or admit to the stress they are experiencing. In fact, more often than not, when I’m with a group of men and I start talking about stress or anxiety it’s not too long before I find myself standing by myself, suddenly - ‘Johnny No Mates!’ For many men admitting to being stressed still carries the stigma of weakness and vulnerability. So they’d rather not talk about it, especially in public.
Unfortunately, chronic stress increases our risk of addictive and destructive behaviour, of developing anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. It can also increase risks of physical health problems including heart disease, insomnia, muscle pain and damages our immune system... the list goes on.
“You don’t have to tough it out.”
Stress, anxiety and depression are not signs of a weakness. In fact they’re common health issues and help is available to get through it, and thanks to initiatives such as those headlined by John Kirwin (Depression.org.nz) and Mike King (Ambassador for The Key to Life Charitable Trust) more and more men are beginning to step forward and ask for help.
May this positive trend continue to gather momentum.
Some websites for guys seeking help with managing stress, anxiety and depression:
- Men’s Health Trust - Promoting good health for New Zealand men.
- Tane Ora Alliance Māori men’s health project.
- Men’s Sheds (New Zealand) - Community spaces where men share their skills and work on practical tasks for themselves or others.
- Man Alive (counselling and support) - Providing counselling and support services for men by men.
- Canterbury Men’s Centre (counselling and support) - A Christchurch based service offering support and counselling.
If you would like help to explore how my solution focused coaching approach can help you manage your stress, anxiety, depression and develop effective life skills to keep stress under long-term control, call me on 021 056 8389 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
REMEMBER - "When you change your mind you change your life."
Have a wonderful relaxing long weekend.
Tony helps individuals to harness the power of their mind to achieve success and well-being in life, work and business. Tony's particular area of expertise lies in helping people to 'change their minds' so they overcome limiting beliefs and unhelpful habits and gain freedom from worry, anxiety and stress. Tony’s solution focused approach to coaching uses a range of techniques drawn from the fields of co-active coaching, hypnosis, positive psychology and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).