Yes Dads Can: Just One More Thing…

Whelp, it’s the last Friday of the month and that means it’s time for our Yes Dad’s Can post around here at SHD. Oddly enough, FF tends to fall just before or after our monthly lunch at our favorite local brewery (can’t miss the lunch special – $10 for a pint and pizza!), and this month, we kept coming back to one thing.

Dads are stressed.

Now, there are some who would say that that’s a load of hooey (or “hogwash,” as my grandfather liked to say) but there is compelling and long-term evidence to suggest that the lonely, depressed, or stressed out American man is more common than you think.

EDIT: Though American men are at particular risk for the adverse effects of depression and isolation, research clearly indicates that in many cultures around the world, the cost of “being a man” is often greater than most boys can handle.

Are most of your friends the partner to one of your partner’s friends? Do you miss connections from school, work, or social gatherings, but feel like you can’t reestablish those connections because there’s no context? Do you find that it is easier to call someone a “friend” if you already have a different, more public relationship (e.g coworker, teammate, fellow volunteer, etc.)? If that public relationship changes, do you find it hard to keep in contact?

Lonely and Frustrated? Join the Club- Literally.

If you said yes to any of these, you’re not alone, even if it sometimes feels like it. Society does a fine job of pressuring boys and men to bury feelings, be tough, and, in the process, grow lonely.

And this is where the second part of this post comes in. To avoid ridicule, punishment, or conflict, men often hide how they really feel, opting to put up a good front and pretend everything is cool. Then, when we do finally get to speaking up, those feelings of depression, fear, anxiety, injustice, or pain might erupt in an impressively destructive way. Here’s what I mean.

What’s In the Box?

I’m going to try and recreate the paper napkin brilliance from last week. One of us (not me) gave a great description of the way stress works in his, and honestly, my life. Maybe it’s the same for you?

Consider this box. The box represents your total capacity to manage problems, drama, or tasks that come your way. For most of us, small tasks are no big deal, and because of that, they tend to take up space in our brains while we put them off to do other things.

Then there might be a rush of demands, perhaps at work or in a call from home. These need to be dealt with, but already, your plate is getting pretty full.

It may seem minor, but aren’t there things you put in the box yourself? Plans you’ve been meaning to get around to (like cleaning the garage, eating better, losing weight) but you never seem to have time for?

At this point it doesn’t take much for the box to be getting pretty heavy, and before long, very full. One more thing and it might not even make it into the box, or it’ll cause the bottom to rip out, and in either case, it’s you and those around you who get to pay the price.

It might be falling short of the expectations put on you (which leads to shame and guilt) or it could be that all those issues come tumbling out, either internally (panic, anxiety) or externally (shouting, crying, mood changes).

Not managing emotions in a healthy way can take its toll on relationships, both personal and professional. This leads to fewer meaningful connections with others, and the few that a man wants to hold on to, he will try to protect by burying and never sharing any negative thoughts or feelings. Those feelings then get to be too much and he turns to destructive behavior, either at the cost of those around him or to himself, and relationships are further strained.

Getting Help When You Need It

So what’s a guy to do about it? First, he needs to recognize that he’s not alone, and that there is help out there. This month (July 2022) folks in the USA can start calling or texting 988 for a national mental help hotline. Veterans can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255. There is a text-only option as well, accessibly by simply by texting “home” to 741741.

The goal of a crisis hotline isn’t to fix the problem. Professionals on the other side of the line will work to ensure the person calling is safe. They will answer questions about what’s going on, and help direct them to resources and support. This could include anything from therapy, groups, or even a visit to the doctor. The follow through is what is important and can turn things around for a guy in crisis… there’s no shame in seeking therapy, life coaching, or support from your doctor.

How to Help Yourself

That being said, most of us may not be in a crisis situation. So what can we do to ensure that we don’t find ourselves a lonely bundle of anxiety and frustration?

Self-care is key. This could look like a lot of things:

  • Effective time management. Make sure tasks don’t build up and celebrate small victories in our day. There are dozens of approaches to tackling the issue of life’s inbox. One I like for my professional life is David Allen’s Getting Things Done.
  • Regular exercise. You don’t have to be a gym rat to benefit from exercise. Take a walk or run. Try weight lifting and getting involved in team sports. Heck, you could start just making a point to play with the kids outside of 30 minutes a day. Any of these can be just the thing to blow off some steam. Combine being more active with sensible eating (check out Michael Matthews’ Bigger Leaner Stronger for an easy to read deep dive on male fitness). You might actually be able to handle some of those nagging self-esteem issues that are clogging up your box!
  • Invest in quality friendships. Seems like a no brainer, but as Major Lazer, DJ Snake, an MO taught us, “All we need is somebody to lean on”. Grab a pint with your mates for no other reason than to be with them. Creating a safe place to be honest with one another takes guts, and maybe at the beginning, a little alcohol. But you should allow yourself to be honest when a good friend asks how you are doing. Critically, be a great listener when it’s their turn to talk. Let them see what it means to be supported. They’ll be better at it for you when you need them!


There’s far too much for us to unpack here, but we thought it was important to get a start. What do you think? Have you dealt with loneliness, frustration, or anxiety? What worked for you? What didn’t? We’d love to hear from you.

Be well!

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