Do you have a “man cave” in your house?
Think about it.
Man caves can take on many different shapes such as a garage, workshop, or den. Perhaps it is the recliner, remote and television combination or even the computer. One woman recently told me her husband just got a portable man cave in the shape of a new iPad!
What ever shape the man cave takes, when the man in your life enters it he is completely involved, distracted from everything else going on around him. No sound, no request, nothing can penetrate the walls of the man cave.
This can be very annoying.
Men and women are different! No kidding, right?
One very significant way we are different is in how we handle stress. Finding ways to relax and manage stress is essential to heart health for both genders, but we go about it very differently.
Men seek to be distracted from the things causing them stress, while women seek to “talk it out.”
Women need to vent, process, or otherwise verbally work through stress. Men need to get away from stress, let things calm down and relax.
The man cave may not make sense to you, but it might just be essential to your man’s health. You may not understand why the game is so engaging, the woodworking project takes so much focus, or why playing golf or going hunting or fishing is so important, but this is how he processes stress. The important thing to you is that it works for him!
Trying to get him to talk about his bad day isn’t going to help him manage his stress. It may make it worse. He just needs to be distracted by something else. Yet, if he enters the man cave when you need to talk through your stress – that is a problem too.
So, what can you do?
Learn to embrace the man cave!
Here are some ideas:
- Don’t take it personally: Really, it isn’t about you. Understand that escaping life’s stressors and being distracted is important to managing his stress.
- Give a little, get a little: When you need to talk something out, try saying something like this. “Honey, I know you need some time to unwind right now. If you have a few minutes later, I really need to talk to you about something that happened today that is really bothering me.” You’ll be much more likely to get a willing listener if you let him choose when to listen rather than springing it on him or demanding his attention.
- Call a friend. Women who maintain positive relationships with other women are 30% less likely to develop heart disease. Think about it. If we process stress by talking about it, having a good female friend in your life can significantly reduce your stress! So, call her up, grab a cup of coffee, and vent – it is good for your heart.
- Get your own cave! In many ways men are better at managing their stress. After working hard all day, they often come home and do something to take care of themselves – while we will come home and do another load of laundry. Rather than getting upset at the inequity – perhaps we should take a lesson. Drawing a line around some space and time in your day just for yourself is very important. Women often find it very difficult to take time for themselves. But think about it. Would the world come to an end if you spent a half-hour reading a good book, enjoying a bath, taking a walk, or (gasp) watching the game with your husband? No, it wouldn’t! You’d feel better and be better able to care for those you love.
Embrace the man cave and both reduce your stress and his!
Eliz Greene survived a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins, struggled to lose the 80 pounds gained during her pregnancy, and searched for a way to hold on to the perspective and passion she found in her near-death experience. Drawing on her background as an adaptive movement specialist, Eliz developed simple strategies and tips to help other busy women be more active, eat better and manage your stress.
As the Director of the Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative, Eliz travels the country energizing and inspiring audiences in keynotes and workshops on women’s heart health. She writes one of the top 50 health and wellness blogs. Find more at www.EmbraceYourHeart.com.