back to top

11 Things All Men In Their Twenties Should Know

BRB, sending this to all my guy friends.

Posted on

1. Actually go to the doctor when something is wrong.

Python (Monty) Pictures / Via

Why it matters:

"A lot of men kind of neglect themselves — I can't tell you how many guys come in and say that they had been bleeding from their rectum, or bleeding when they peed, but it went away so it's OK and they didn't think they had to worry about it anymore," emergency room physician Dr. Kevin Soden, adjunct professor at the University of Florida and author of Special Treatment, tells BuzzFeed Life.

What to do:

Pay attention to your body. Don't be afraid to get your shit looked at (literally and figuratively). Better to get things taken care of early than too late.

2. Find a general practitioner and become an established patient at their clinic.

Netflix / Via

Why it matters:

If you get really sick at some point (with the flu, or a bacterial infection), you'll be able to schedule an appointment easily without a months-long wait. It's also helpful to get checked out when you're healthy, to establish your baseline stats — think blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, resting heart rate, and weight. "It's really important for a baseline for later on," Soden says. It helps doctors determine when something is wrong later, and can help you out years down the line when you're trying to get life insurance.

What to do:

Look for a family practice doctor or a general practitioner in your area, and schedule a checkup. Usually your insurance provider can offer a list of doctors that are in network.

3. Do less risky stuff.

Why it matters:

“It’s not a secret: Men are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors than women are,” Dr. Daniel Vigil, health sciences associate clinical professor in the Department of Family Medicine, division of sports medicine at UCLA, tells BuzzFeed Life. What is high-risk behavior? Things that can put you in bodily harm. Think high-risk sex, high-risk driving, high-risk sports, and violent behavior in general.

What to do:

You already know all this, but I'll repeat it anyway:

- Wear a condom and get tested for STDs.

- Wear a seatbelt, and mind the speed limit and traffic laws.

- Wear a helmet, and don't push yourself if something feels wrong or hurts in a bad way.

- Take rest days seriously, if you work out.

- Don't take unnecessary risks that could possibly kill you or seriously hurt you if something doesn't go exactly as planned.

- And do what you can to avoid violent confrontations if at all possible: Homicide is the third-leading cause of death for men in their twenties and early thirties in the United States (and that says nothing about violent encounters that don't kill you but do seriously injure you).

4. Fix or leave messed up relationships.

Fox Searchlight / Via

Why it matters:

Don't just ignore it and hope it goes away or gets better on its own. A bad relationship can be terrible for your stress levels, your emotional stability, and your general happiness. And sometimes the things people do to avoid dealing with bad relationships can ALSO be unhealthy: drinking too much, working too much, and so on.

What to do:

First, recognize some red flags that you might be having some serious relationship issues:

You're always fighting. You have sex less than once a week (when you used to have sex a lot more frequently). You feel like you're constantly walking on eggshells. You don't actually want to spend time with your partner. You feel lonely, even though you're in a relationship. You and your partner aren't treating each other with respect. You find yourself making excuses to avoid going home. Your partner is verbally, emotionally, or physically abusive toward you.

Then figure out what you'd like to do about it:

If you want to try to work it out, talk to your partner about couple's therapy. Therapy on your own might help, also. And do what you can not to lose touch with your friends and family and loved ones, who can help you feel loved and supported and cared about when you're maybe not getting that kind of emotional support at home. If you suspect you might be in an abusive relationship, you can find resources and help at the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

5. Ask yourself the CAGE questions.

HBO / Via

Why it matters:

Vigil says that he asks his patients the CAGE questions to assess whether they have problems with substance abuse that they might not be aware of. Being aware of your own potential substance abuse issues is an important step in getting help and eventually living a healthier life.

Here are the questions:

C: Have you ever thought that you should cut down on your alcohol (or drug) consumption?

A: Do you feel annoyed when someone talks to you about how you might be drinking too much, or doing drugs too often?

G: Do you ever feel guilty or bad about your drinking or drug use?

E: Do you ever feel the need to drink alcohol when you wake up (as an "eye-opener") to stave off a hangover or steady your nerves?

What to do:

If you answer yes to one of these questions, that could be a sign that you might not be totally in control over your substance use, and that it might become a problem for you in the future. If you answer yes to two or more of these questions, that's a sign that you already have a problem with your drinking or drug use, and you should take steps to get help. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has a list of resources if you are looking for support or treatment.

6. Even if you don't have a problem with alcohol...try not to binge drink.

AMC / Via

Why it matters:

Binge-drinking to get drunk can be risky and dangerous, even if you don't have a problem with alcoholism. Between 2006 and 2010, an estimated 11,748 American men between the ages of 20 and 34 died from alcohol-related causes, according to the CDC. Acute alcohol-related deaths included homicides, car accidents, suicides, drownings, and falls, among other causes.

What to do:

For men, binge-drinking means drinking five or more alcoholic drinks in about two hours (or in one sitting), according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. If you'd like to keep going out but want to avoid binge-drinking, make sure you pace yourself. Drink a glass of water in between every beer you have. Make sure you don't drink on an empty stomach. Decide on a number of drinks you want to drink before you get started, and vow to stick with that number. Nurse a beer for a long, long time, if you feel weird not having a drink in your hand. Things like that.

7. Eat some vegetables. Every day.

Why it matters:

Because it'll help keep your poops regular. And also because eating vegetables can help you live longer.

What to do:

Here's a good place to start.

8. Exercise regularly, also.

FOX / Via

Why it matters:

Exercising regularly is probably one of the best things you can do for your health — it's good for both your body and your mind. Plus, heart disease is the leading killer of men in their forties and fifties, so getting into the habit of taking care of your heart now will be good for you in both the short term and long term.

What to do:

Try out BuzzFeed's Get Fit Challenge, if you're looking for some motivation.

9. Know what depression can look like in men.

NBC / Via

Why it matters:

Women are diagnosed with depression about twice as often as men, but research published in JAMA Psychiatry revealed that men and women actually suffer from depression in roughly equal numbers. The issue is that men exhibit symptoms of depression that a lot of people don't necessarily associate with depression: Symptoms like anger attacks, aggression, substance abuse, and risk-taking. Other somewhat more recognizable symptoms include loss of interest in things, sleep problems, irritability, and stress, among others. Depression can be debilitating for people who suffer from it; it can cause problems in pretty much every area of your life.

What to do:

Take a minute to think about how you've been feeling. Are you always stressed out and irritable? Do you have a hard time controlling your anger? Have you been drinking too much, or taking foolish risks maybe more than you used to? These could all be signs that you're depressed, or could use some professional help with your mental health.

On that note: It's so important to remember that mental health issues are just as serious as other types of health issues. "Just as if someone has a broken leg, or diabetes, or a heart attack, they can have anxiety or depression — it's a medical entity that deserves medical attention," Vigil says. You can talk to your primary care physician about your concerns, and they can refer you to the appropriate specialists to help you feel better.

10. Learn how to manage your stress in a healthy and productive way.

New Line Cinema / Via

Why it matters:

Stress in small doses is a normal part of life. But chronic stress that you never really calm down from can be incredibly unhealthy. If you're feeling stressed all the time, that's a problem.

What to do:

Consider talking to a therapist to figure out the source of your stress. And in the meantime, learn some of these tricks to help quiet your anxiety when it begins to get a bit too much to handle.

11. Actually get some sleep. Every night.

Why it matters:

You know this already: Adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. Not getting enough sleep can wreak havoc on your health and happiness. It interferes with your ability to make good decisions; it makes you crave fatty and high-calorie foods; it stresses you out; it makes you cranky and irritable; and it actually hurts your brain's ability to form real long-term memories. Plus other bad stuff.

What to do:

Tips on how to sleep better here.

Got all that? Good. Now go do what you gotta do.