Shaping Healthy Habits: Celebrating International Men's Health Week and Shedding Light on Alcohol and Wellbeing.
The theme for this year’s International Men’s Health Week in Australia is “Healthy Habits,” which encourages men and boys to identify small changes they can make to improve their health and wellbeing. From June 12-18, communities across the globe will come together to support and empower men to take control of their health and make positive changes for their future.
As we celebrate International Men’s Health Week this month, it is a great opportunity to reflect on some of the specific challenges that men face when making a change to their relationship with alcohol. We explore how to develop healthy habits and cultivate practical strategies and tips that promote well–being.
Men face a few specific challenges when it comes to their relationship with alcohol.
It’s no secret that alcohol plays a significant role in men’s social culture. Whether it’s unwinding after a long day, dealing with stress, or bonding with friends, alcohol is deeply woven into social interactions. From sharing a meal to raising a glass in celebration, it’s a common way to connect. The challenge with having a strong social drinking culture is that it can create obstacles for those men trying to change their relationship with alcohol. Many men can face additional pressure of conforming to societal ideals of strength and independence. Within their social circles, beliefs like “toughen up” and “everything will be fine” can discourage the expression of vulnerability. This lack of emotional openness can make men more hesitant than women to seek support when facing challenges. A recent study, which involved focus groups with 101 men, discovered that having a strong sense of autonomy was connected to a hesitancy to acknowledge or identify chances for receiving care and support (Duncan et al., 2022).
One of the major concerns regarding Australian men and their drinking habits is the impact on mental health. Studies indicate that alcohol can lead to depression in men, and the statistics reflect this.
Striving for a healthy and balanced relationship with alcohol is ideal, but how can men attain that? How do men start to tackle these challenges and change their relationship with alcohol?
Here are some suggestions to help you kick-start your journey towards healthier habits
- Ask yourself about your alcohol intake.
When it comes to our overall health and wellbeing, it’s important to take a step back and assess various aspects of our lives, including our relationship with alcohol. Asking yourself about your alcohol intake is an essential part of this self-reflection process. It allows you to gain a deeper understanding of your drinking habits and consider whether any adjustments need to be made to support a healthier lifestyle. Hello Sunday Morning’s Alcohol and Wellbeing Self-assessment tool is a great resource and one of many starting points. It’s a quick, five-minute, confidential online self-assessment where you can receive personalised feedback in real-time.
- Seek out friends or family members who might be supportive of your efforts to cut back on alcohol.
People who are willing to provide encouragement and accountability for you are very helpful. Additionally, consider seeking support beyond your immediate circle of friends and family. Peer support services such as the Daybreak app and Turning Point offer online counseling that can be helpful in your journey. There is also the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline for more information. 1800 250 015.
- Explore hobbies or activities that do not involve alcohol.
As you embark on a journey towards healthier habits, it’s essential to consider alternative activities that do not revolve around alcohol. By exploring new hobbies and activities, you open up a world of possibilities to spend your time and energy in fulfilling ways. This could look like exercise, sports, or creative pursuits. Aim to discover your own personalised healthy habits that work for you.
As International Men’s Health Week unfolds, let us remember the significance of shaping healthy habits and the positive impact they can have on mental and physical wellbeing. By acknowledging the challenges, seeking support, and pursuing alternative activities, men can forge a path towards a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Share your tips and insights by leaving a comment below. We’d love to hear what has worked for you in shaping healthy habits in celebration of International Men’s Health Week.
Men in our Hello Sunday Morning Community share their strategies, habits, and support which has helped them change their relationship with alcohol.
“I’ve created a supportive environment to improve my mental health, quality of life, and reduce alcohol intake. In fact, I haven’t consumed alcohol for over four years now. To achieve this, I first identified with like-minded individuals who also deal with addiction. This provides me with a sense of identity and community where I feel understood and not judged.
Maintaining strong relationships with family, friends, and my partner is crucial in creating this supportive environment. Continuously working on underlying skills allows intimacy and love to be part of my life. Additionally, having the right balance between freedom and structure in both work and personal aspects has been beneficial.
Consistency in exercise and diet plays an essential role too. My driving motivator is to create a world for myself without alcohol that’s better than the one I had before. Exploring new experiences such as traveling or engaging in outdoor sports like rock climbing or mountaineering helps me stay focused on this goal while providing endorphins through physical activities.
Some specific habits, strategies and sources of support include Hello Sunday Morning, AA, exercise, massage and meditation, building an understanding of FOMO, reducing caffeine intake, and building an understanding of trade-offs and responsibility. “
Rhys – HSM Consumer Advisory Committee Member
“Ruminating over whether people will have an issue with me ‘NOT’ drinking far outweighs the reality.
For strategies: I have cut down considerably by just letting people know early on that I am just having two or often none. I rarely have it in the house, which does help for those moments when I really feel I want it.
The key one for me though is replacing alcohol (which I often used as a reward) with something else that I enjoy: a movie, a walk, a workout, chocolate.”
Evan – HSM Employee