MANXIETY…is it really a thing?

Ok, so you’ve probably heard of man-flu and mankini’s, but manxiety….?  Is this a rising phenomenon, is it something you should be aware of, does it even exist, or does it belittle the experience of anxiety experienced by men?  The term ‘manxiety’ is undoubtedly emotive, and you may well have a strong reaction to it, and in some ways that in itself is a positive as it gets people thinking and talking about anxiety.  Current estimates are that 8.2 million people (men & women) experience anxiety to a level that would be considered ‘clinical’.

So, why is it that anxiety and men is such a hot topic currently to the point that a new concept has been invented?  The rise of technology has its part to play – increasingly we are spending more time on social media and gaming, and it has become common place to hear people mentioning that they were chatting with their friends when they mean that they exchanged a couple of WhatsApp messages.  It’s very easy to hide how you are feeling when your chosen method of communication is a few carefully chosen words, or banter.  It’s also very easy to become plagued with self-doubt when everyone else seems to be having a better / easier / more interesting time than you.

Dressing like this is bound to bring on a bout of manxiety if nothing else! Source: https://dtuoscf35xuyg.cloudfront.net/556-large_default/borat-mankini.jpg

Dressing like this is bound to bring on a bout of manxiety if nothing else! Source: https://dtuoscf35xuyg.cloudfront.net/556-large_default/borat-mankini.jpg

Expectations are also at play with socio-cultural shifts and changing understanding of the role of men in society.  Our grand-parents generation had very clear role boundaries: the man was the main breadwinner, went out to work, wasn’t required to contribute much to child-care, and it was acceptable for them to disappear off into the shed / pub on a regular basis.  Nowadays, men’s roles are shifting and if anything, men are often still expected to be the main earner in a household, but also contribute to housework, be in-tune with their emotions, sensitive in the bedroom, and have a ‘six-pack’ to show.

Are you experiencing manxiety?  Signs that it might be time to ask for help:

  • Avoiding seminars as they are too intense & you might get asked a question;
  • Making excuses not to go on a night out when you used to enjoy going;
  • Feeling sick, or using the loo a lot before a presentation or interview;
  • Going red or getting excessively sweaty when in a new situation;
  • Being overly forgetful;
  • Getting easily agitated or put-off task.

Whether or not manxiety is a helpful term, the central point is that men do experience anxiety, and there is lots of support out there to help manage, and overcome it.  The Counselling & Wellbeing Service is a good start; we can provide 1:1 personalised input if you want to talk to a real person.  But, if that feels too daunting, CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably):  http://www.thecalmzone.net.gridhosted.co.uk  ) specifically targets men, and seeks to offer on-line support to a group who can often find it difficult to talk about how they feel, to acknowledge if they’re going through tough times, and possibly struggle to ask for help.