In today’s stressed out, burnt out society, it’s no wonder that self-care is trending. Self-care is the practice of taking care of your physical, mental, and spiritual health by improving your overall wellbeing. Consistent self-care practice has been shown to build confidence and self-esteem, improve productivity, and be able to more easily cope and adapt to stressors or change. Individuals who regularly practice self-care also are able to better express their emotions and build and maintain positive relationships.
However, for many reasons men tend to avoid self-care. Self-care is often seen as effeminate or too self-indulgent. Self-care is often associated with bubble baths, pedicures, or massages. While self-care practices such as massage, meditation, or yoga are tremendously beneficial to both sexes, these activities are typically marketed to women.
It’s also not common to see male leaders promoting self-care to other men as often as women are. Women have social media influencers, bloggers, and mental health advocates that consistently advertise self-care practices. Self-care is instead marketed to men as self-improvement. For men, self-improvement can include getting a haircut, going to the gym, or playing sports with friends.
A culture of prioritizing work or long hours often prevents men from forming self-care habits. Mental and physical health, relationships, and hobbies are overlooked when status in the workplace or fear of being seen as not ambitious or competitive is given priority. Men are more prone to burnout, isolation, and emotional difficulty due to work expectations. This stress can be even greater if the man is the breadwinner of the household.
Men and women alike in the U.S. may also be addicted to “busy-ness”. Slowing down or taking a break is perceived as weakness, and self-care for both genders is pushed away for fear of being seen as lazy. It’s important for all to understand that self-care is not about being unproductive, it’s about allowing yourself to take a break and rejuvenate.
To recognize Men’s Health Month this June, we’re sharing some self-care tactics for men to try. These self-care tactics can help men define themselves as individuals outside of work or family responsibilities. For men especially, self-care should include something you enjoy doing that can fuel a passion or interest. Self-care should also improve physical, mental, or spiritual health. Engaging with others and cultivating relationships can be an important part of self-care as well.
Make Time for Exercise
Exercise is known to reduce stress and improve sleep in addition to the overall physical health benefits. Find an activity that works best for you whether it’s lifting weights, running, or playing pick-up basketball a few times a week with friends. Yoga or just going on daily walks have great mental benefits as well.
Keep a Healthy Diet with Occasional Indulgences
If you eat better, you’ll feel better. Consider cutting back on salt, sugar, and processed foods as part of your regular diet. Try not to skip meals or eat in front of a screen when you’re able.
Choose a Self-Improvement Routine
If you’re not already taking care of your outward appearance, pick one self-improvement routine and try to stick with it. Consider scheduling regular haircuts or shaves, implementing a skin care routine, or getting periodic massages. Ditching a disposable razor for a high quality one, or using a better hair cream is a small indulgence that can boost your mood and self-confidence.
Take Time for Yourself
Pick an activity or hobby that is genuinely yours alone. Reading, journaling, fishing, meditating – choose something that you’re passionate about and can do independently.
Make Time for Activities with Friends
Relationships with others is important to our wellbeing. Schedule weekly or monthly activities with friends that you can truly relax around. Meet for happy hour, play a pick-up game, or have a regularly scheduled poker night with the guys.
When men prioritize their well-being, they give themselves the opportunity to grow as a man and stay physically, emotionally, and spiritually fit for the long-term.