Why Happy Hour Could Help You Live Longer
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because manly men need love, too.
By Benjamin Spoer
Men tend to put up emotional walls and just feel lonely in general — lonelier than women on average, research says. You don’t have to look far to see how our culture reinforces the image of the masculine loner. Take Superman and his Fortress of Solitude, of which he exclaimed (on the pages of DC Comics), “No one can penetrate the solid rock out of which it is hewn!”
Well, maybe that wasn’t such a great idea, Superman. Loneliness is awful for your health in a host of ways. To be lonely is to be deprived of social support, which means, basically, to do without interacting with people in a way that makes you feel loved and cared for. A strong body of research concludes that social support can reduce stress, improve your cardiovascular system and help you fight off infectious diseases, whether or not you go to the gym and eat your kale.
When guys get together for a beer, intimate topics like feelings and mental health are all of a sudden OK to talk about.
This sounds pretty straightforward — when you feel stress, you probably reach out to someone and talk about it. Unless you’re a guy. Men’s friendships are different than women’s, according to research; they’re less emotionally based. And we all know the Superman and Marlboro Man stereotypes: Real men suck it up; they don’t have feelings, and they never experience pain. Real men don’t need social support because they are so damn rugged. Who needs friends when you’ve got testosterone? The upshot: Men sorely need social support but don’t naturally fall into the close relationships that provide it. So what’s a guy to do?
Believe it or not, the answer may be at the bottom of a pint glass. Recent research has shown that when guys get together for a beer, intimate topics like feelings and mental health are all of a sudden OK to talk about. This opens the door to the social support men need to maintain their health.
Remember, drinking too much is still really bad for you, so let’s keep it in the realm of moderation here. But if you can drink moderately? Well, Homer Simpson might have been right after all, and getting a beer with your buddies might just help you live longer.
Video by Tom Gorman
- Benjamin Spoer, Benjamin Spoer is a Ph.D. student at NYU's Global Institute of Public Health obsessed with urbanism, obesity and community health. He considers himself one of the top three influential redheads in history, along with Thomas Jefferson and Carrot Top. After entering the world in a back alley in Hong Kong, he's now exiled to Harlem, where he finds solace in running long distances and baking pies. Follow Benjamin Spoer on TwitterContact Benjamin Spoer