You've got a friend in me: supporting yourself and others

How to support friends from afar and in person I’m aware it’s a cliché, but as a man, through peer pressure or role model complications, I find I’m nowhere near as in touch with my emotions as my female friends. A statistic (I think from WikiHow) has stuck in my head which is that the average woman will cry 37 times a year, for the average man it’s 7. My message to fellow males in this whole thing would be that crying is important, as is embracing negative emotions. It’s more important now than ever to be connecting with your friends, listening (really listening!) to them and hopefully they listen to you. It’s good to talk about what we’re all going through right now to better understand what is happening and how we can grow from it. Male mental health Speaking as a man, vulnerability can be hard to show others, let alone recognise it yourself - I find it often easier to get on with things rather than have an immediate emotional response and I’ve come to realise this is NOT the way to do things. Internalising emotions, I’ve found, is a defense mechanism I’ve learned over the years and it can be a useful way of defending myself (saving face) but can and has led to emotional outbursts, low moods and low self-esteem. One thing that helped me was to not see negative emotions as a negative thing, but simply to accept them as a Yin Yang situation - you cannot have good without bad, as you cannot be happy without having some sad times in your life (as the legendary Bob Ross teaches us). Even just knowing that, for me, was such a blessing and allowed me to at least accept these emotions and from there work on the cause of the issue.

Some of us are lucky to live close or even next to our friends. Being able to do things together can help us and our friends clear our minds, even for a little while, and I find that it does help when I do this. Talking about mental health and focusing a lot on your feelings and thoughts can also take its toll. Support doesn’t have to be constantly checking in with your friends and asking if they’re okay, support can also mean going out, having fun and creating memories, so here’s a suggestion of things you can do with your friends now or once we’re all allowed back outside!

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