If you have ever flown on an airplane before, you have heard the flight attendant utter the words, “In the event of a sudden drop in pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from above. Secure your own mask first before assisting others.” The idea is that if you don’t take care of your own well-being, you would not be of much use to anyone else.
This is a great metaphor for why it is so important for us as men to manage our health in a progressive manner. As men, we are faced with a never-ending list of roles and responsibilities. We have school, work, marriage, parenting, friendships, church, mentoring, managing finances, and work around the house amongst many other things. We are called to do, and to be, so much. And while we won’t be perfect in all these areas, it is possible to thrive in each one if we start with a firm foundation of good physical and mental health.
Going back to the airplane, if you are passed out on the floor because your oxygen levels fell too low, those who depend upon you will be left to fend for themselves. Likewise, if we drop the ball on our responsibility to manage our health, we leave ourselves and others exposed to future adversities that likely could have been mitigated or avoided altogether. The bottom line is this; if we are going to be there for those we care about, we have to first prioritize our personal health and well-being.
“If we are going to be there for those we care about, we have to first prioritize our personal health and well-being.”
Managing our health comes with several obstacles and potential pitfalls. Depending on your background, the obstacles will be different. Perhaps you would manage your health better if you were equipped with more knowledge, or if you had a good role model to guide you in the proper directions. Perhaps you are afraid of being transparent with your doctor, or just seeing a doctor in general, because of a bad experience that you or someone you know had in the past. Regardless of the circumstance, I know there are many legitimate and reasonable challenges that hinder our ability to manage our health well.
The good news is that we men are not ones to let an obstacle stand in our way. We can, and will, find a path forward. We do it for ourselves, and more importantly, for those that we lead. How do we begin on the journey? While I’m not a doctor, I can at least point to some factors that have helped me.
Consulting a Health Expert
First, I would encourage you to identify a health expert that you can trust. Like all areas of life, it is important to have trusted advisors who are equipped to help you develop a strategy that leads to the best long-term health outcomes. I found that having a primary care physician who knows me well can be a great resource. For over 25 years of my life, I had the same primary care physician. He was someone I could relate to, was balanced in his counsel around medical and non-medical interventions, and always made sure that I was equipped with the information I needed to make the decision I believed was best for me. Every doctor isn’t the same, but I believe that you can find one who will pursue a real relationship with you. They can be there to help you build healthy habits that prevent health challenges, as well as deal with any health challenges that may arise.
Second, I would encourage you to connect with the other men who are thriving in their health. I’m not suggesting that they be able to run a marathon, bench press 300 pounds, or anything like that. I am talking about finding someone who has a pattern of putting nutritious food in their body, exercises regularly, and gets an annual physical exam. It may be a challenge to find someone like that who is close to you. But keep looking until you find them. Or take the lead and develop a group of friends that are willing to follow you.
Take It Step-by-Step!
Lastly, do one small thing every day that will put you on the path to better health management. Taking immediate action, no matter how small, will greatly increase the chances that you get started on the journey. Go for a walk, touch base with your most fit friend, schedule an annual physical, drink more water, eat a salad! Just do something because every little bit can make a difference!
As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot at stake when it comes to managing our health. There is a significant downside to not doing all we can, but there is an even greater upside available to us when we put forth the effort to do what we can do to manage our health better. When we do, we can become men who maximize our personal potential and help others to do the same. It is possible for us to meet our responsibilities so well that others look at our lives and want to emulate us. They will see us living lives of purpose and be drawn to our habits and lifestyle choices. But let’s keep first things first and ensure that we have the foundation of good health necessary to seize these opportunities. Start the journey today!