Did you know that June is recognized as Men’s Health Month? Living with epilepsy can pose many challenges to your lifestyle, so keeping track of how you’re feeling is incredibly important. This month, we encourage men with epilepsy to reflect on ways you can improve your health to live your best life. To help you get started, below are six ways to start your journey to better overall health.
1. Journal your seizure triggers.
Some people with epilepsy may have a difficult time identifying seizure triggers that can lead to seizures. Are there certain times of the day when you are more prone to seizures? Do you feel unwell after a day of eating certain foods? Do you experience sensitivity to light? Keep a seizure diary that can help you make note of triggers.
Nile is a diary app designed to help you or your caretaker log seizures, side effects, medications, and more to share with your health care team. Whether you decide to track your seizures digitally or via physical diary, make sure to write down the exact date, time, and activity you are doing when you start to feel the signs of a seizure. This diary will serve as a useful tool when speaking with your health care providers. It will also help you avoid potential triggers in the future.
2. Try a new hobby.
Work, school, chores, and other necessary daily tasks are all individual stressors that can make it hard to unplug and reduce anxiety. Make time for yourself and check out a new hobby to help de-stress and improve your mental health. Learn how to play a new instrument, write, garden, paint, draw, or do any other task that lets your thoughts flow freely. To start, set a timer each day for 30 minutes to focus solely on your new activity. Before you know it, you’ll have a stress-free segment of your day to look forward to!
3. Check in with your doctor.
Men living with epilepsy may also experience health concerns that are unique to their gender. Checking in with your doctor on health issues that can affect you can help put fears at ease and better prepare you to successfully manage your seizures. Some suggested topics to discuss with your doctor include:
- Monitoring potential changes in hormones, specifically low testosterone. Low testosterone levels can affect a person’s energy, mood, sexual function, and bone strength.
- If you are planning to start a family, ask whether your seizures or the anti-seizure medication you are taking can affect fertility.
- Address any change in libido or sexual interest.
- Mention any mood changes such as anxiety and depression, or if you are experiencing fatigue (low energy levels).
4. Prioritize getting better sleep.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, one third of adults in the United States do not get enough sleep. Men with epilepsy are no exception. Epilepsy and sleep have a complicated relationship, and lack of sleep can act as a seizure trigger for many. Optimize your sleeping experience to help get at least eight hours of sleep per night:
- Reduce noise, light, and any distractions as best as you can before heading to bed.
- Create a regular nighttime routine and stick to it! The more consistent your nighttime routine, the more likely your body will recognize when it’s time to go to sleep.
- Do not eat a heavy meal before bed and avoid caffeine several hours before you plan to go to sleep.
- Avoid using electronic devices at least one hour before going to sleep to help your body wind down.
5. Find an exercise routine that works for you.
Exercise is a key component in improving health and wellness. For some men with epilepsy, it can be difficult to find an exercise routine that works for them and feels safe. The most important thing to do before committing to an exercise routine is to consult with your epilepsy doctor or health care provider about which activities and sports are right for you. Once consulting with your health care team, follow these steps suggested to start exercising!
6. Connect with others in the epilepsy community.
Volunteering is another great way to meet other members of the epilepsy community! Become an Epilepsy Awareness Ambassador, use your voice to become a local advocate, or take part in a fundraiser. Volunteering for a cause you care about is an easy way to make connections and make a difference. A friend you make while volunteering may become a friend for life!
You can also join our webinar, "Celebrating Men Making a Difference" on June 16, 2022 at 3:00 pm EST. This conversation will feature four men as they discuss their experiences as fathers, caregivers, and leaders of organizations dedicated to fighting against rare epilepsies. Listening to others share their personal stories can provide a sense of community amongst people who have similar experiences. We encourage you to learn how these men balance their many responsibilities and find useful pieces of information from the discussion to integrate into your daily life!
Use this Men’s Health Month to start a list of your own health goals. It can be hard to focus on lifestyle and wellness improvements while juggling the many other distractions that life brings. However, the sooner you implement better health practices into your everyday routine, the better you will feel!