This week (June 11th – 17th) is Men’s Health Week! The goal is to raise awareness about health issues that disproportionately affect men and encourage them to take control of their health, whether that means eating consciously or learning to manage stress. In honor of the occasion, I interviewed some of the most powerful and inspiring guys I know. Some are in the health and wellness industry, some are not, but all have motivating stories and sage advice to share.
Dr. Alden Cass is a clinical psychologist, performance coach, motivational lecturer and author of two books who has worked with top-level professionals in high-stress fields like finance for the past 15 years. His methods not only help his clients thrive at work, but at home, too.
Shannon: How did you get started in your field?
Dr. Cass: I did my doctoral dissertation on the mental health of Wall Street stockbrokers which was the first clinical investigation on this population in the last 50 years in the U.S. I then wrote the book, Bullish Thinking: Surviving and Thriving on Wall Street, which offers skills for high achieving professionals to perform optimally under stressful conditions. Together this led me into the world of performance coaching and clinical psychology where I can help a wide variety of professionals, from athletes and musicians to Wall Street executives and attorneys.
Why is health and wellness important to you?
Health and overall wellness is a commodity that we must cherish when we have it. There is very little in life we have control over, but getting to the gym or eating healthy is something we can at least assert some discipline over. We work hard for the money we make at our jobs, so it seems logical that we should place a premium on health and wellness so that we have the ability to have fun in our lives.
What about health and wellness do you think is a common misconception, particularly for men?
Men are way more sensitive than most people think. Most of those who come to my office are in physical or emotional pain and have great difficulty expressing it. In many ways, the expression of their painful feelings may even be a surprise to their spouses. Men also appear to want and crave more validation than the female clients that I work with.
Why do you think men have a harder time talking about their health than women do?
Men tend to think that admitting to sad feelings and illness is a sign of weakness so they avoid discussing it. They prefer to talk about performance and career success. My female clients do not seem to be as bothered by this type of vulnerability. I believe this difference in talking about health can be related to how the genders view societal norms.
How do you feel empowered in your line of work?
I feel empowered by the fact that I control my own destiny. I base my work schedule around what allows me to enjoy my life. I can take a vacation when I want, can ensure that I have gym time during the week and that I don’t need to work on weekends so I can be with my family!
What about health is SEXY to you?
The overall feeling that I get from reaching a goal whether through sports or exercise. The adrenaline and feeling that comes from a hard workout creates confidence in an individual and this is a sexy quality that both men and women exude when they are truly healthy.