9 Loving Ways To Be Your Man's 'Xanax' When He's Super Stressed Out

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men and stress

Your love just might save his life (literally).

You love your man, but lately, you’re really starting to worry about him. He’s so stressed out ... ALL the time.

He’s exhausted, edgy, distracted, and sometimes even short-tempered. But mostly, it's clear he's carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. 

You know he loves you and your family, but he’s just not himself anymore. He’s acting like the typical guy, taking the "strong and silent" approach to his stress. But the more he sucks it up, the worse he's getting. 

Let’s face it, society teaches men to show no weakness; not even to you. And now, you really miss him. Stress is ruining his quality of life and you know, if left unchecked, it can actually kill him. You desperately want to help him. Here’s what you can do: 

1. Size up the situation 

First, clearly recognize the warning signs of chronic, dangerous stress levels. Here’s what to watch for:

  • He constantly feels fatigued and irritable (for more than just a few days). In fact, you almost can’t remember a time in the last six months when he was energetic, relaxed and truly enjoying himself. 
  • He has exaggerated reactions to even small annoyances.
  • He’s forgetful and absent-minded. He can’t remember plans you’ve made, work appointments, or even simple things like picking up the milk you asked him to pick up on his way home. 
  • He’s unfocused, unmotivated and lacks concentration.
  • He can't sleep. He's an insomniac, restlessly tossing and turning in bed all night. Then when the alarm goes off, he can’t get up.
  • His sex drive took a nose dive. When you try to initiate sex, he can't get (or keep) an erection.
  • He’s in physical pain, complaining of aches and pains in his neck, lower back. He has recurring headaches or indigestion.

Stress affects every part of your man’s body and can significantly undermine his immune system. Any one of the above symptoms is a cause for concern. But, two or more significantly increases his risk for flu, colds and may lead to a heart attack, stroke, and even cancer. Not to mention the toll stress takes on his mind, resulting in poor decision-making, irrational fears, and addictive behaviors. 

2. Put some love in his meals

Provide healthy, nurturing food. Avoid overly heavy meals or sugary desserts which negatively impact his already debilitated system. You might even make some delicious superfood smoothies as a power-packed treat. (If you need some free recipes, email me and put "smoothies" in the subject line.) Don't monitor his food like you're his mother, just quietly start preparing meals that help his body thrive during this stressful time.

3. Grab his hand and take him for an after-dinner walk

Exercise is an excellent stress reliever, so join him for a workout at the gym, a yoga class, or something else fun and physical. The stimulation helps him move stress and stuck energy out of his body so he can feel better. 

If he resists at first, coax him into doing something physical without making it about "exercise." Focus on spending time together, instead. Take his hand and say "Babe, it's such a nice evening. Please go for a walk with me." And then squeeze his arm while smiling at him. Just let the space feel easy and loving without any pressure.

4. Axe his "to-do" list

Avoid putting unnecessary demands on him right now. Instead, encourage true relaxation and an early bedtime. Sleep deprivation contributes to heightened stress levels and an inability to cope. So make the bedroom dark and comfortable. Remove the TV and any other electronic distractions which interfere with the release of sleep hormones.

Create an environment that encourages quality sleep. Set an example by going to bed at an earlier time and invite him to join you. Sex is a great stress-reliever, but if he’s having performance issues, be sensitive and patient. Forcing the issue just creates more stress.

5. Help him lighten up

Find a funny movie you both can watch together. Laughter is a fantastic release.

In fact, at Stanford University, Dr. William F. Fry studied the positive effects of laughter on the body. He reports that 20 seconds of intense laughter can double the heart rate for three to five minutes. That's equal to three minutes of strenuous rowing exercise!

Laughter stimulates cardiovascular activity. So get your guy laughing. It's great for his health and your relationship. 

6. Schedule some quality hang time

Social interaction is an important stress neutralizer. In fact, in the Blue Zones Project (which identifies ways to a longer, healthier and happier life) recommends surrounding yourself with people who support positive behavior. So, any old "friends" won't do. Health and happiness require being with the "right tribe." 

So make a checklist of friends and family who contribute to uplifting his spirits and then make a plan to spend time with those fun people. Host a low-key dinner party or a weekend get-away. Just help your man step out of the grind and back into a circle of people who remind him what truly matters in life. 

7. Be super sweet to him

Look, your man needs some serious lovin' right now. Give him a hug, rub his neck, massage his shoulders. Tender gestures reinforce intimacy in a relaxing, non-threatening way that also releases toxins to help him feel better. 

Show him some emotional love, as well as physical. Tell him ways you appreciate him. Offer him a compliment or two. Feeling like your hard work matters to someone helps take the edge off. 

8. Give him some space

This one probably feels counter-intuitive, but allow your man the opportunity to work through his own stress, his own way. Of course, be available to seize the moment when he turns to you. Help redirect his energies in soothing ways. But also, just let him have time to himself if he needs it. 

This will take some serious mindfulness on your part not to feel abandoned or unloved by him during this time. So, make sure to take time to replenish your own energy! 

Stay calm and centered so you don’t inadvertently contribute to his nervousness. Be loving, understanding and supportive without being intrusive. Studies show that giving too much uninvited help actually causes more tension for a guy. Men are wired differently than women. Respect the difference. Wait to see if he seeks your assistance. If he doesn’t, you can execute any or all of the other steps without him even knowing what you're doing. Just remember ... 

9. Be his wife, not his mother

Regularly check your ego and make sure you’re functioning from your heart so he doesn’t feel like you’re being bossy or a "know-it-all." Your man needs his wife who adores him, not his mother who hovers and fusses. In other words, don’t nag him about what he needs. Be subtle and avoid any fanfare or you will contribute even more to his withdrawal and he’ll just worry about you worrying. 

If he’s not back to himself within a few weeks, you may need professional help. If he has acute hopelessness, depression or recurring nightmares, consult a mental health practitioner, life coach, therapist, or spiritual guide for support. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has programs in almost every community and many are free.  

In the meantime, shower him with love, understanding, and patience. Your love has more power to heal him than you realize! 

Peggy Sealfon is a Personal Development Coach and foremost expert on overcoming anxiety and stress. Contact her for an introductory coaching session or try her free audio 3MinutestoDestress.com Order an autographed copy of her book at Escape From Anxiety — Supercharge Your Life With Powerful Strategies from A to Z.