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:

Dressing like this is bound to bring on a bout of manxiety if nothing else! Source:

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):  ) 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.

Everyone else seems happy!

“Everyone else seems to be having fun, but I’m finding uni stressful. Am I doing something wrong?”  Is this something you find yourself thinking?

Here’s something to consider: ‘Facebook. How much do you believe of what people post on it?’  Are most people you know, likely to post about the downside of life? Or post pictures of themselves looking less than perfect, or having a difficult time?   Some people work hard to keep up that positive image on-line, and even harder to maintain the façade in real life.  When we’re face-to-face with a relative stranger, we all tend to want to come across as confident and fun to know. But underneath that confident exterior, most people have doubts about themselves, things they wouldn’t want others to see. You’re not the only one.

You can ask yourself “How can I manage stress better to feel stronger?” 

Firstly, it might help if you acknowledge to yourself that actually, academic work at uni is meant to be quite demanding.  Think back and remember how much effort you made, just to get here.   Revising for your A levels, writing a personal statement…..and now you’re here, that effort and work goes on. At the end when you graduate, that’ll be validation of all that you’ve done here.

group of students study group

Think about getting together a group of ‘study buddies’

So, If you’re having a hard time academically, what about forming a small group of study-buddies?  See if anyone wants to talk about the meaning of the latest assignment for half an hour or so. It’s so much better when you have others’ perspectives too. Another source of help is Study Advice, for any kind of academic question:

Make sure you’re also taking care of yourself physically, to give yourself the best chance to cope with the change from home life to uni life first. Think about what you are eating as this can have a huge impact on how you’re feeling about everything!    Make sure to drink plenty of water as well as whatever else you’re drinking.

Then start thinking about cultivating a good relationship with yourself.  No-one needs to be perfect. When things go wrong, stop and think: would I forgive someone else for doing that? If you accept others as ‘good enough’, what about easing up on yourself?

Socialising can be fun, or can be a stress-point. At home you probably had old friends you’d known for years.   Making new ones is going to take a while. Just because you didn’t get asked along when your flatmates went out isn’t a reflection on you. Another time, instead of waiting to be invited, decide what you’d like to do, think about who else might enjoy that, and suggest it to them. Be prepared to maybe hear that they’re busy – if so, suggest it to someone else. People who have a good time don’t give up on their plans when others say no, they just find someone who’ll say yes.