All too often, we avoid talking about our problems like the plague. It might be due to the fact that we’ve been bombarded with messages like “suck it up” and “be a man” since boyhood. We’re now far better at talking about our woes after they’ve been fixed, right?

CFL player and Don’t Change Much Champion, Shea Emry says that mental health issues thrive behind society’s masculinity mask, and has experienced the negative effects firsthand. “[I’m] a professional football player, the mentally tough, ‘alpha-male’ type. Until I ripped off the mask this was all I—and perhaps others—allowed me to be.”

Men are four times more likely to die by suicide than women, and it’s time we rally together to get loud about what’s on our mind. Shea explains how he overcomes these ridiculous cultural and societal pressures in his article, Behind the Masculinity Mask.

With solid advice from Shea and our friend Dr. Kuhl, who specializes in men’s mental well being, here’s a roundup of guy-friendly ways to cope with mental stress:

  • Unmask wherever possible: Silence can be toxic, so try to practice openness as much as possible. One way to get open is to get outside – trees and plants fill your lungs with oxygen which can have positive effects on your peace of mind.
  • Look inward: Signs of stress and depression often go unnoticed. Ask yourself, has anything changed in how I live, act, or feel about life? Consider any unusual habits you may have noticed recently like eating more junk food, having trouble sleeping, losing interest in relationships/hobbies, or even watching more porn. Use the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Meter and assess your mental fitness.
  • Talk to someone you can trust: Someone who will take you seriously, listen to what you have to say, and be there to provide you with a different perspective on your thoughts. It could be a partner, spouse, close friend or someone at work.
  • Ask a buddy how he’s doing: It can be easier to help out a buddy than to ask for help ourselves. If he “unpacks his sh**,” you may be surprised by the outcome. Sometimes it pays to simply know that you’re not alone. Besides, bros need to stick together!

Learn more about mental health and check out the Great Information on Don’t Change Much.

How do you deal with mental stress?