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The Psychology of Men and Masculinities: Interpersonal Competence at Work
10 CEUs Males: Interventions for Balancing a Work Addicted Workaholic Lifestyle

Section 10
Track #10 - Fostering an Acceptance of Adversity through the "Laugh at Stress" Exercise

Question 10 | Test | Table of Contents | Addictions CEU Courses
Social Worker CEU, Psychologist CE, Counselor CEU, & MFT CEU

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On the last track we discussed how the body copes with stress.  This information may benefit your client in understanding how prolonged stress can cause permanent damage.  Three ways the body copes with stress are through motor nerves, autonomic nerves and through the adrenal gland and hypothalamus. 

On this track ... we will look at symptoms of stress that generally appear to be unique to male stress.  Generally speaking there are two types of stress symptoms regarding male stress.  Two types of stress symptoms are common symptoms and symptoms unique to men.

Share on Facebook #1  Common Symptoms
Would you agree that far too often men ignore stress symptoms, denying their potential consequences and avoiding having to address their causes?  My colleague Greg often counsels couples in which there is a male workaholic client.  Greg has explained to me that the wives of stressed males who are work-focused identify physical signs of stress as insomnia, headaches, allergies (hives, hay fever, and congestion), teeth grinding, jaw clenching (temporomandibular joint muscle spasms, or TMJ), nausea, indigestion, and heartburn, or backaches and stiff necks. 

When men themselves were asked about their physical symptoms of stress, Greg found that one of the few symptoms they consistently reported noticing was that they perspired more under stress!  I asked Greg, "What about all the symptoms reported by the women?"  Greg stated, "I find that men acknowledge them, but do not usually attribute them to stress; they tend to attribute them simply to age or fatigue."  

Would you agree that men seem to add new stress symptoms to old ones as they age?  For example, does your male workaholic client think each is a sign of a malignancy or premature aging rather than stress?  I find that in clients who attribute physical signs of stress to illness or aging, fears will compound their stresses and multiply their symptoms.  If male stress clients are avoiding medical checkups as well, more serious stress-related disorders may actually develop.

Share on Facebook #2  Symptoms Unique to Men
In addition to the more general stress symptoms, which are shared by women under stress, men under stress show some symptoms that are uniquely theirs, more frequently theirs, or more dangerous when they are theirs. These symptoms are as follows:

•           Hypertension (high blood pressure)
•           Atherosclerosis (high cholesterol level)
•           Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
•           Heart failure
•           Peptic ulcer (gastric or duodenal)
•           Alcoholism
•           Erectile dysfunction
           Premature ejaculation
•           Retarded ejaculation

Some of these ailments and disorders relate to the male physiology.  Some reflect social, sexual, and psychological demands associated with being a man in this culture.  Some are affected by early upbringing and developmental history.  Some reflect lifestyle.  And some are brought on by the life changes and events that are part of a man’s experience.

Clearly, each of your male client’s stress factors effects his stress level.  How do you relate your client’s physical symptoms to his stress levels?  You might try the Laugh at Stress Exercise.

Share on Facebook Exercise:  Laugh at Stress
The laugh at stress exercise uses humor to help foster an acceptance of the adversity which causes stress.  Suggest to your workaholic client that he look for the irony or absurdity in the painful situation.  Perhaps he can draw cartoons of the situation or make a good news/bad news joke out of it.  One client, Randy, when told he had choices, said, "Yeah, which wrist to slash, my left or my right."  This sense of humor eventually led to flashes of acceptance and Randy began to learn to decrease his stress levels through humor.

Would you agree that laughter is one of the best ways to open a blocked acceptor.  Perhaps your male stress client might, for example, make a point of telling or exchanging two jokes a day.  Could he ask people he meets if they have heard any good jokes lately?  If they tell him a joke, he can pass it along to others. Think of your Randy.  Could he benefit from laughing at stress?  Perhaps playing this track for your client might help.

On this track... we discussed male stress.  We discussed how stress is different for male clients.  Our discussion included physical signs of stress and how those physical signs of stress are perceived differently by women and men.  We also looked at symptoms of stress that generally appear to be unique to male stress.  We examined two types of stress symptoms regarding male stress.  Two types of stress symptoms are common symptoms and symptoms unique to men.

On the next track we will discuss the Responsibility Factor.  The Responsibility Factor is comprised of three main elements.  The three main elements of the Responsibility Factor are decision making, early assertiveness training, and specific stresses.  This track will identify four specific stresses.  The four specific stresses we will discuss are stress of anticipation, stress of visibility, stress of success, and stress of failure.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Beehr, T. A., Bowling, N. A., & Bennett, M. M. (2010). Occupational stress and failures of social support: When helping hurts. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 15(1), 45–59. 

Carroll, D., Smith, G. D., Sheffield, D., Shipley, M. J., & Marmot, M. G. (1997). The relationship between socioeconomic status, hostility, and blood pressure reactions to mental stress in men: Data from the Whitehall II study. Health Psychology, 16(2), 131–136.

Gerber, M., Schilling, R., Colledge, F., Ludyga, S., Pühse, U., & Brand, S. (2020). More than a simple pastime? The potential of physical activity to moderate the relationship between occupational stress and burnout symptoms. International Journal of Stress Management, 27(1), 53–64.

What are two types of stress symptoms regarding male stress? To select and enter your answer go to Test.

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