Yo yo yo Compton Health Bar Fam! Today’s blog is all about Men’s Health- specifically for the men in our community. We are talking physical, mental and emotional health here. As most of us may know, when it comes to our communities, a lot of our men are encouraged to not show emotion. Perhaps the only time it feels acceptable for some men to show emotion in our raza, for instance, is after some shots of tequila, while listening to some classic Chente. In our brown communities, especially our parents and grandparents generation, men are conditioned to believe that to suffer in silence is to show strength. For instance, you may have a tio or elder male relative who believes that going to the doctor or seeking any health advice (or any type of help) is unmanly. However, we in the CHB community know that we must participate in our health in order to be proactive and live our healthiest lives! Let’s challenge these notions and help to offer more to the men in our lives and in our hoods.
Men’s Mental Health
When it comes to men’s health, we must look at it from all angles- spiritual, emotional and physical. I cannot write about men’s health without thinking of my good friend. I’ve got a homie in El Salvador who I affectionately refer to as Lil Pete. He is a lawyer who is happily married to his beautiful wife. Together, they have two children in their late teens. Lil Pete is basically a senior director at a firm and he is in charge of managing an entire department of lawyers. Due to his position of power, the company he works for mandated emotional intelligence training. One course in this training was …combating machismo. Lil Pete and I respectfully discussed the lessons he learned in this EQ course.
He shared that in the course, he learned quite a few things. First off, he forgave his father for not ever showing affection, because he understood that his father never learned that it was ok for men to show each other love. He realized his father thought he was doing him a favor, by “toughening him up.” This realization led Lil Pete to becoming comfortable with showing his own son affection, which in turn may break any cycles of rigidness in his family, thus hopefully leading to a healthy balance of emotions. He also learned how to communicate his feelings, which his wife testifies vastly improved their already happy marriage. Finally, he learned tips on how to be a male ally to women both in the workplace and in life. El Salvador is a country with femicide and gang violence. To know that my friend accessed this type of education for free from his work place amazes me and gives me hope for continued equality for generations to come. What a forward thinking approach to continue education for those with a lot of power in the workplace.
So why the heck am I talking about male allies and emotional intelligence? It is brought up here because it ties to emotional health. Men (especially brown men) need and deserve to be given space to express their feelings in a healthy way that feels authentic to them. Unfortunately, our society often does not encourage this type of healthy emotional output. We’ve all heard it. Men are considered “sissies” if they cry. Men are told they are on “their period” if they show sensitivity about anything. We could go on and on with examples. What examples come to your mind?
It is perpetuated by all sides. I had a homegirl who once dumped a guy because he cried to her about missing his deceased father around the time of the anniversary of his death. She said to me that there could only be one cry baby in the relationship— her. She said she didn’t want to be with “no bitch…” No pues wow. Another friend told me that she liked men who did not say I love you often. Because, when they did say it, she knew it meant something. Not the healthiest foundations for realtionships.
Regardless of gender, if these ideas have ever come across our minds, I encourage us all to do some introspection: Why do we feel that men who show their emotions are weak? Why do we admire stoic men who do not show emotions? Why do we feel that it is acceptable for men to only show anger as their primary emotion? When did these feelings and ideas start? Who taught them to us? Elders? TV? Movies? On the flip side, if you have not encountered or refuse to accept these ideas about men, where did you learn that it is normal and human for men to express their emotions? For instance, did you see examples of this in your home? It is worthwhile for us all to meditate on these questions for the emotional and mental health of our community.
Aight so if we can refer to these schools of thought —where society has to stifle men from fully expressing themselves in a healthy manner and in which men are denied space to be themselves— as toxic masculinity, then what does healthy masculinity look like? If toxic masculinity can come from men and women and society in general, then we can deduce that healthy masculinity should be a group effort as well. Healthy masculinity can look like the following:
Men’s Spiritual Health
- Supporting and encouraging men to express themselves by asking open ended questions
- Releasing frustrations during exercise
- Finding community during group sports, or among friends
- Encouraging and supporting men to take care of themselves, rather than to suffer in silence
- Prayer or meditation
What are other examples of healthy masculinity can you think of? If these themes interest you and you’d like to do more research, I highly encourage you to check out Jackson Kats’ Tough Guise here. It is a documentary that further discusses these ideas.
A lot of these societal expectations come from the expectation that men must lead. There is pressure in leadership, regardless of your sex or gender. Therefore, if you feel the pressures of leadership, or any pressures at all, I encourage you to take care of yourself. Caring for yourself allows for you to be a stronger leader.
Now that we covered mental and emotional health, let’s talk about physical health. Let’s look at some health tips specific to men.
Health Tips for Men: Men’s Physical Health
- Avoid Soy – soy is high in estrogren, which can disrupt the natural balance of a man’s hormones
- Get Endorphins – to release stress and feel good
- Have a strong network of support – quality over quantity matters here
- Sunblock – Skin cancer on the ears can easily spread to the brain. Sunblock should not be seen as a cosmetic. It is a health product. Men who work outdoors or play sports outdoors should use SPF 50 every day. Don’t forget the ears and the back of the neck!
- Avoid BPAs – again, this can disrupt a man’s natural balance of hormones. Try your best to use reusable glass bottles or look for cans and bottles that are labeled BPA free.
- Compton Health Bar Men’s Formula – This formula was specifically tailored, with men’s health in mind. This blend is meant to help a man feel full of stamina and vitality to tackle and maintain his health goals! Let’s break down the ingredients, shall we?
- Organic Maca Root – a superfood rich in antioxidants. Enhances memory, improves mood and stamina. Also boosts sexual health, health and helps to balance hormonal levels. It can even boost male fertility.
- L – Arginine – an amino acid that builds muscle and promotes sexual well being. Helps increase circulation and lower blood pressure. It can also treat erectile dysfunction. Improves exercise performance.
- Wildcrafted Eleuthero Root – also known as Siberian ginseng. This functions as a brain booster and energy enhancer. Can relieve stress and fatigue. I’m willing to bet Popeye added this to his spinach.
- Organic Damiana – An aphrodisiac herb (eyyyy) known to improve sexual vitality. This herb also contains anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties. If you are less stressed and less depressed, then you can focus on getting it on without any worries on the back of your mind. Damiana also promotes kidney, bladder and prostate prostate health.
- Guarana – Natural source of energy and clean caffeine. Also a natural aphrodisiac (once again, eyyyyy) that improves sexual performance by improving mood and circulation.
- Ginko Biloba Extract – anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, platelet-forming and circulation boosting plant! Whew! May also help with cognitive function, positive mood, increased energy, improved memory. May reduce symptoms of choleric diseases.
- Tribulus Terrestris – reduces blood sugar and cholesterol while increasing libido and sexual function. Also aids in muscle building. BRB gonna lift.
- Yohimbe – promotes dilation of blood vessels to increase blood flow to the sexual organs (are three eyyyyys too much?)
Men, how do you practice self care in order to promote your well being? How do you encourage your male peers to do the same? Women, how do you encourage the men in your life to advocate for their health? Was there something we missed? We’d love your feedback in the comments. What was your favorite part of the blog? We’d love to know your feedback as well. As always, we are sending you healthy vibes from all of us here at Compton Health Bar. Until next time. PEACE!