written by Cristina Rodenbeck
Men’s work-life integration: struggles and solutions to thrive
Professional stress, worry, anger and sadness is most prevalent in Hong Kong compared to other parts of East Asia, according to the State of the Global Workplace 2022 Report. Local surveys indicate a spike in stress levels in recent years which, coupled with the strain of the pandemic, has significantly affected professional and personal wellbeing.
While all genders are impacted, each face unique barriers to optimal wellbeing. Speaking for men – as many remain hindered by the archaic patriarchal model of not speaking for themselves – there exists immense pressure to perform extraordinary results. Many of the men I coach have hectic schedules: they work long hours, are expected to be available 24/7 on multiple media and communications channels, travel across different time zones, attend client dinners and events, and fathers increasingly juggle family commitments too.
There’s an unreasonable expectation on men like these to perform extraordinary results all the time. This output-driven routine is like running daily marathons. But can we physically and emotionally run marathons daily? It is humanly impossible. The body nor mind cannot cope with such demands.
Too many men in Hong Kong are physically and mentally exhausted.
They’re emotionally reactive and drained. They’re suppressing and repressing thoughts and emotions to survive. They feel unable to voice their inner struggles for fear of the consequences and stigma.
The impact? When men reach exhaustion point, memory, concentration and effectiveness problems surface at work. Many take their emotions home: overwhelm, stress, frustration and anxiety, and problems then surface at home too. Anxiety, depression, insomnia, and weight gain are increasingly becoming an issue for male professionals, as is burnout which is difficult to bounce back from and often needs medical long-term support. Chronic disease is on the rise too: cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, metabolic syndrome and more – all scientifically linked to stress.
Men’s health: stay on track the healthy way.
With extremely hectic schedules, it can be difficult for men to commit to wellness programs and create new and healthier habits. But there are small steps that can make a big difference.
- Be aware that change is needed and running the daily marathon is unsustainable.
- Start to integrate self-care moments in your daily life. This may include scheduled time in the diary for the gym, healthy foods, mindfulness, work breaks and more family time. And even simple things such as traveling with the gym clothes or socializing more with friends can make a positive difference.
- Be realistic and proactive – as we live in challenging times, we need to build our personal resilience. Don’t wait for a health red flag to be raised, instead proactively work on prevention with a trusted physician.
- Protect your mental health – unpack the unhelpful beliefs, assumptions, and stories you tell yourself that may be impacting your confidence, self-esteem, and motivation.
- Ask for help – be it a coach, a supportive peer group, close friends. You don’t have to run solo.
Work-life integration is not a ‘nice to have’ but key to thrive in these current times; it’s about being aware, making better choices, and living and working mindfully.
Why wait? Working and Living Mindfully is one phone call or email away.
Cristina Rodenbeck is IMI’s Mindful Leadership Coach, Corporate Wellness Curator and Speaker, Certified Wellness Therapist, and Mindfulness Facilitator. With over 25 years’ experience working with executives across different industries and continents, she has a unique insight into professionals’ challenging lives and the detrimental effects on personal power and wellbeing. Trusted by global and local leaders, she is committed to empowering professionals with optimal awareness and wellbeing, so they thrive at work, home and in life.