Healthy Living in the North

Tales from the Man Cave: “Man Maintenace,” because men need tune-ups too

A man is seeing his family physician.

Regular “man maintenance” can help you live a healthier life.

Every day, we seem to hear the same general suggestions about how to live healthy – don’t smoke, moderate your drinking, avoid drug use, eat healthy and live actively. But maybe, as we men age, we should add “get it checked out” and “talk to someone” to that list.

We think it’s common sense to see your family doctor if your health is distressing you, but common sense isn’t always common, especially when it comes to guys and their health. Remember, health is one of those things you might not think of until it’s too late. However, with a few well informed truths perhaps you can avoid some of the nasty issues that are out there, waiting in the wings.

“Getting it checked out.”

For young men, one step towards avoiding testicular cancer is a self-exam; however, your GP is your best bet if you aren’t sure and is definitely your next step if you think there may be an issue. As for us older fellas, in each successive decade of life there are other tests and checkups we should have done, like blood pressure, cholesterol, and the less pleasant prostate and colorectal screening. Once again, your GP is the best person to talk to about what’s right for you.

“Talk to someone.”

Stress is unavoidable in modern life – pressure at work, trouble with relationships, and our own expectations can all lead to increased levels of stress. What is a guy to do?

Well, let me suggest that any time is a good time to talk to someone about stress.

A few words with your significant other or a close friend may be all you need. However, if it persists or even worsens, then you may need to see a health care provider. Stress can affect your sleep, appetite, concentration, mood, and more.  These things can actually lead to the early development of disease and they are signs that it is time to see a professional. To say that managing stress is important is an understatement!

What are some things that can reduce stress and help us deal with it in healthy ways? That everyday advice we mentioned is a start: healthy diet, be physically active for 150 minutes a week, don’t smoke. Also, remember to be social, make sure you have a healthy work and life balance, get enough sleep, and practise relaxation. I find relaxation tapes help and information on mindfulness is plentiful on the web as well. All of these things will help you take small steps towards a healthier life.

What do you do to reduce stress in your life?

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.


Seeking a work-life balance

How do you maintain a work-life balance?

How do you maintain a work-life balance?

Have you ever experienced time slowing down when you were on a holiday? During long days at the lake or on that cross-province road trip with your family, you do the math somewhere at the midpoint of your vacation, and are shocked that you have yet another week of unscheduled bliss! People say that when we intentionally step away from our over-scheduled lives, we take a healthy pause that forces a change in our routine and rewards ourselves for hard work.

With two busy kids and a busy husband, a full-time career, a dog, a home, friends, family, neighbours and our community, including all the routines and schedules that come with, it’s a daily juggle for me to fit everything together, ensuring everyone is dropped off, picked up, safe and sound, well fed, well rested, nurtured, loved, clean and clothed, enriched, socialized, progressing, learning, moderately active and very, very happy! While we might enjoy the random and occasional experience of holiday bliss on any given day, striking actual balance takes practice and intention. So how do we re-create holiday bliss, and maintain a balance between our professional and personal lives for greater health and well-being?  How do we achieve that sought after work-life balance?

Work-life balance is a concept, first used in the late 1970s to describe prioritization between career and lifestyle, which includes our ambition, our health and well-being, pleasure, leisure, family and spirituality. In 2010, the University of Toronto published a list of research abstracts, all paying close attention to work-life balance in Canada; the list contains over 80 independent research projects focused on this topic. It’s astonishing that it’s garnered so much attention, but not surprising given the amount of people that struggle with it.

While our lives may remain complex, there are actions we can take now that will create greater balance, perhaps reducing our stress, improving our health and well-being, promoting a healthier lifestyle and potentially re-creating the joy of that last great vacation, on any given night of the week!

Please remember: balance requires practice, so take a gradual approach.

Holiday bliss at home:

  • Set a boundary for yourself and turn off your devices (e.g. your phone and your laptop). Make one night each week a “no device” night.
  • Schedule downtime into your personal life just as you schedule meetings into your professional life. This creates opportunity for spontaneity and “going with the flow.”
  • Schedule a fun activity with your kids, your partner or a friend. Go berry-picking, go to the playground or prepare a meal together.
  • Schedule time for the things you enjoy. Read that book. Call your friend. Go swimming.

Holiday bliss at work:

  • If you regularly work late, plan to leave on time today. Work will be waiting for you tomorrow.
  • Instead of working through your coffee or lunch breaks, find a buddy and go for a quick 10-minute walk around your building, up and down the office stairs, around the block.
  • Schedule personal lunch appointments. Make sure that your partner, parents or kids are as important as your professional lunch appointments.

In the quest for greater work-life balance, try a few of these ideas out. Just imagine how you will feel; imagine how your family will feel as well.

Do you have any tips to add for creating holiday bliss and maintaining a work-life balance?

[Ed. note: Don’t forget to join the September Healthy Living Challenge and enter the Week 2 Challenge for your chance to win a Fit Kit!]

Kelsey Yarmish

About Kelsey Yarmish

Kelsey is the regional manager of Northern Health’s population health team. A nurse by background, with past work in acute psychiatry (at UHNBC) and tertiary mental health and addiction services, Kelsey has become equally passionate about public health prevention initiatives and upstream work. Kelsey grew up in Prince George, and loves being part of the community and the north. She is married, with two little "dancing" girls. Family is her joy and her kids ensure that home-time is always lively and a lot of fun! When she is not at work, she is with her family and friends, and she loves entertaining, her gardens, traveling, boating, crafting, cooking and reading.