Stress is a hot button issue for men these days. And for good reason. Because the way you understand, confront, and respond to stress can make all the difference in the world towards your health and life.
That’s why in today’s article, I’ll clarify what stress is, how it affects male performance, plus how to manage stress so you get all the benefits of stress without the drawbacks.
What Is Stress?
Stress is how the body reacts to a challenge.
And your body’s stress response was designed to be POSITIVE.
See, when you meet a challenge, your central nervous system releases a flood of hormones to help you rise to that challenge or run from it. These hormones are adrenaline and cortisol. Like you’d expect, when these hormones are released it creates your body’s “fight or flight” response.
You know these stress hormones are being released when your heart pounds faster, your muscles tighten, your blood pressure rises, and you start breathing heavier.
Again, this response is meant to be positive. It’s designed to help you in dangerous situations, like if you’re running from a predator, need to protect your family from danger, or even lift a heavy barbell in the gym.
Stress only becomes a problem when it lingers for hours, days, weeks at a time, or more. And if you don’t learn how to manage it, stress can become self-destructive.
It’s like the old saying goes, “Too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing.”
So how long is it before good, short-term stress becomes bad, long-term stress? Well, there’s no exact answer to that question because no two men are exactly the same.
But, here are some examples of scenarios that may cause bad, long-term stress:
- Relationship problems at home
- Feeling pressure at work
- Sitting in morning and evening traffic jams
- Money problems (especially debt)
- Death of a loved one
- Moving to a new city
- Watching the news
- Social media disputes
- Comparing yourself to others
- Poor sleep
All of those factors and others like them can contribute to long-term stress. And again, when stress goes from being “short term” to becoming “long term”, it becomes self-destructive. How do you know if you’re dealing with chronic, long-term stress?
Here are some general warning signs:
- Stomach problems (like constipation or diarrhea)
- Muscle tension
- Neck, back, or chest pain
- Trouble concentrating
- Sadness or depression
- Social isolation
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Exercising less
Those are some general signs that stress has become a chronic, long-term issue for you. And there are specific ways this stress can affect your male health and performance.
What Stress Does To Male Performance
When your stress levels are elevated for long periods of time, your testosterone levels drop. There are two major reasons why that happens.
First, the main stress hormone, cortisol, has a direct testosterone-suppressing effect inside the brain and balls. Basically, it’s like two kids playing on a see-saw. When cortisol goes up, testosterone goes down, and vice versa.
Second, the body uses cholesterol to create cortisol. The body also uses cholesterol to make testosterone. However, when you’re stressed, cortisol production becomes the priority.
So when cortisol levels are elevated for extended periods of time, the cholesterol that would normally be used to create testosterone is being used to create cortisol instead.
Those aren’t the only factors. With prolonged stress comes messed up sleep quality, poor food choices, lack of exercise, and increased alcohol consumption… all of which contribute to lower T-production.
Getting an erection comes down to blood flow. The problem is stress and anxiety can interrupt how your brain sends messages to your “manhood” to allow for that extra blood flow.
To make matters worse, stress and anxiety about ED can contribute to a cycle of ongoing ED. Basically, stress from work or life events can cause you to experience erectile dysfunction. And then you feel stressed about having erectile dysfunction. And the stress piles one on top of the other, making it more difficult to perform in bed.
Stress can also cause a loss of interest in sex in general. It’s hard to get in the mood when you have a lot on your mind, so something as simple as having a bad day at work or a troubled teen at home can get in the way.
Heart Disease Risk
Have you ever seen those movies where a guy is under so much stress that it causes him to have a heart attack? Well, there’s truth to that. Studies show that being high strung for long periods of time is a risk factor for heart disease.
The reason is because as chronic stress builds up over time, it damages the arteries. It also increases inflammation in the body, which contributes to high blood pressure and bad cholesterol.
While stress hormones can provide your body with a quick burst of energy and focus when you’re lifting weights or giving a presentation at work, it has the opposite effect when you’re under chronic, long-term stress.
It takes a lot out of your body to produce adrenaline and cortisol. Think of it like hitting the “speed burst” button on a video game. That “speed burst” is only meant to last for a short amount of time. The same is true of your stress hormones.
If your body is constantly trying to pump out adrenaline and cortisol, it’s natural that you begin to wear down, feel tired, foggy, and unproductive.
Men’s mental health has gotten a lot of attention in recent years and for good reason. We’re under a lot of pressure. And feeling stressed over long periods of time can cause feelings of hopelessness and depression.
Now, even though I can sympathize with you — if you’re in a tough spot and it feels like there’s no way out, there are some things you can start doing that’ll help you learn how to better manage stress and take control of your life.
How To Manage Stress
You can’t remove all the stressors in your life. And even if you could remove all the current ones you have right now, I guarantee others will come marching in right behind them to take their place.
And that’s why even though there are some things you can do to cut out stress, like quit watching the news, staying off social media, or cutting off toxic relationships… at the end of the day, men need to learn how to confront stress head on.
Here are some ways to do that:
Exercise is a great way to confront stress because when you exercise, you release endorphins and “feel good” hormones that make you feel good about yourself and better about your situation. Even something as simple as a walk in nature can do the trick.
Training also gives you a sense of control. And it’s important to focus on what you can control when you’re in a season of stress.
I know that when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to grab junk food. But you need to make the choice to eat healthy. Whole foods contain vitamins and minerals that help to balance your hormones, lower inflammation, improve mood and mental clarity, and keep you healthy — all of which are important in times of stress.
At the very least, eating a healthy diet can minimize the damage of a stressful season of life. But eating junk will only make matters worse.
I understand that when you’re stressed, it’s harder to sleep. However, there are ways you can overcome stress-related sleep loss and sleep like a baby regardless of what you’re going through. And that’s found in the power of routine.
Create a sleep schedule that allows you to get 8-hours of sleep a night. Avoid blue light from your phone an hour before bed. Wind-down by reading or journaling. Make sure your bedroom is pitch black. And turn a fan on low to give you white noise. If you do that every night before bed, you should be able to fall asleep regardless of the day’s stress.
Deep nasal breathing sends signals to your brain to relax. Practice breathing in through your nose for 4 seconds and out through your nose for 4 seconds. You can do this at any time throughout the day when you start to feel stressed. (When you’re stuck in a traffic jam or at your desk at work are great times to practice this).
Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t magically make your problems go away, but it’s a way of sending signals to your brain to relax and release less stress hormones.
The way you interpret life’s events is crucial. Personally, I’ve found that reading stoic philosophy helps me to focus on what I can control instead of focusing on what I can’t. You’d be surprised at how much more in-charge you feel when you focus on what you can control.
I recommend Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, Letters From A Stoic by Seneca, and The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday to get started. I’ve got a few other book recommendations that you can check out here.
When you’re stressed, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of isolation. If there’s ever a time to hang out with your pals or get a friend on the phone, it’s when you’re feeling the pressure of life begin to stack up.
If I were to choose between a phone call and a hang out, I’d suggest getting together with friends. You don’t need to focus on your problems or make the whole evening about what you’re struggling with. It may be helpful just to kick back and have fun. Laughter can be the best medicine when things are tough.
But there’s good wisdom in opening up about what you’re struggling with. So make sure you have someone to do that with, whether it’s a good buddy who’ll grab a beer with you and chat, a counselor (there are even some mental health hotlines you can call), or a pastor from your church.
There are certain foods in nature that seem to have been created for exactly this purpose of helping men overcome stress. They’re called adaptogens. And just like the name suggests, they help you adapt and respond to stress.
I added a few of nature’s most powerful adaptogens inside our testosterone-boosting greens powder, Man Greens.
For example, studies show that when men take the specific form of ashwagandha that we have in Man Greens, it helps to lower cortisol levels, feelings of anxiety, and stress… and improve sexual performance, testosterone, and feelings of well-being. So you see, adaptogens can have a powerful effect.
Man Greens also has a bunch of superfoods shown to help improve male performance. So it’s worth checking out if you want a simple way to combat stress and feel your best.
So there you have it, man.
Stress is something you NEED to learn to face head-on and deal with. It’s not something to sweep under the rug. It’s not something you’ll “get around to later”. You need to be proactive because in today’s day, it’s becoming the biggest battle men struggle with. So I hope you’ll take what you’ve learned today and apply it.
1) Stress is how the body reacts to a challenge. The body’s stress response was designed to be POSITIVE.
2) Stress becomes negative when you’re stressed for long periods of time.
3) When stress becomes chronic it can lead to serious health concerns, including low-T, erectile dysfunction, heart disease, brain fog, mood disorders, and more.
4) You can combat stress with exercise, diet, sleep, deep breathing, reading philosophy, staying social, and taking adaptogens like the ones we have in Man Greens.
5) Never give up. Learn which ways to manage stress work best for you and utilize them as often as you can.