Did you know that 42% of unpaid carers are men? As we reach the end of Men’s Health Awareness Month, I’ve put together some simple tips for looking after yourself and your health.

  1. Don’t ignore your body

Men have a tendency to do ignore warning signs and just ‘get on with things’. If you have a persistent cough, chest pain, or feel unwell for any other reason over a prolonged period of time, then it’s better to get checked out, especially if you’re a carer as you’ll have someone depending on you. If you’re not well, you wont be able to look after someone else. Don’t ignore symptoms that indicate you’re unwell.

  1. Eat well every day

The NHS recommends eating more fruit and vegetables, which should make up over a third of the food we eat each day! Aim to eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and veg each day. Choose from fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced. Fruit and vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

To help with this, why not take advantage of the monthly healthy eating shopping tours at Kirkgate market. The tours aim to support people to make healthier choices easier. They are facilitated by a community dietitian who help put healthy eating into context and assist self-management of people at high risk or with long-term conditions eg Heart Disease, Diabetes or Stroke. For more information please call the NHS Shop To Get Fitter Dietitian on 0113 843 0890 (Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm).

  1. Make mental health a priority

In Leeds, the rate of death from suicide is five times higher for men than women. It’s the biggest killer of men, which should be an indication as to just how important it is. Eating well and looking after your body will impact your mental health, but perhaps the best thing you can do is talk to someone about how you feel when you need to – whether that’s a trusted a friend, a mental health professional, or a support worker at Carers Leeds. “Man up” culture can be dangerous, as evident by the statistics for male deaths. Mental health affects us all regardless of gender, so do not feel like being a man (or the perception of what it means to be a “man”) is a barrier to finding the path to a healthier, happier you.

If you need to talk to a support worker about how your caring role is affecting your health, call us on 0113 380 4300. We are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 4:30pm and we’re now also open late on a Wednesday until 6pm. If you need to speak to someone out of hours, please call Connect Helpline between 6pm and 2am. They’re open every night of the year on 0808 800 1212.

CJ, Carer support worker