If you search for the term “self-care” on a site like Instagram, you’ll get millions upon millions of photos featuring that tag. However, scrolling through the pictures, you might notice a little bit of a trend. Many feature females, and cater to a female audience, showing yoga poses, candlelit bathtubs and tasty-looking smoothie bowls. You will notice that there are minimal posts from the male audience. That is because self-care has mainly being considered as a woman’s domain, despite men having a similar need of taking time out and relaxing. Biologically speaking, females and males are very different and yet, our fundamental needs such as feeling loved and cared for, don’t vary that much.
What is Self Care?
The concept of self-care has traditionally been considered as an effeminate action that is only reserved for women. That is because it is stereotypically linked to pampering and various other feminine gestures and interests, mostly aimed at women, like beauty and spa treatments. Most men avoid this term because it conjures up images of manicures, bubble baths, facials and aromatherapy.
Nonetheless, self-care is an essential, gender-neutral activity that includes any action someone may wish to enact to take better care of their overall well-being. It means to develop, protect, maintain and, or, improve yourself. Men who practice self-care are more likely to experience:
• Strong self-esteem and confidence
• An ability to feel and express various emotions healthfully
• Capacity to build and maintain positive relationships and connections with others
• Working and living productively
• Adapting to change in times of uncertainty
• Feeling engaged and actively participating in the world
• High capacity of coping with the everyday stresses of life
By this description, we can easily see that even men deserve self-care to keep themselves stable, happy and functioning well. Otherwise, it is very easy for men to be consumed by being busy at work, sorting finances and other family responsibilities, such that they never take care of themselves more holistically. There is nothing fundamentally emasculating or effeminate about self-care either. It is critical for men to look after their mental and physical health to live happy and fulfilling lives.
Tips for Self Care Practices for Men
Get social with other men
A common characteristic for men who are in committed relationships is that they give up hanging out with their friends in favour of their partner or family. However, an essential self-care tip is that you still need your male friends even if you are in a relationship. You can engage in enjoyable activities based on similar interests, which your partner may not be interested in, like discussing sports and cars, among others. Your male tribe can support you because they completely understand your drive and can encourage you during tough times as well as share your successes.
Take Pride in Your Looks
You should never feel ashamed of taking care of your outward appearance as a man. Ensuring that you look good is an easy way to enhance your self-esteem and social life. As much as it pains some people to admit, first physical impressions do matter. Also, visiting the barbershop to get your hair or beard trimmed regularly can give you a place to network and interact with other men.
Make sure you take time every day to groom yourself. That could involve upgrading your bathroom routine to improve your skin, investing in a stylish gentleman’s dopp kit to house your own personal toiletries and even applying a nourishing beard oil for those with beards. Next, buy clothes that work with your bodyshape and type. Feeling more confident, fashionable and overall, ‘put together’ can work wonders for your self esteem. If you’re in a commited relationship, doesn’t suddenly permit you to just ‘let loose.’ Keeping that spark alive which attracted your partner in the first place, is so important for a relationship’s long term success. This isn’t to negate the fact that as we age, nature does take hold of our body but you do have the power to keep yourself looking and feeling your best.
Workout and Stay Fit
Working out is at the core of a proper self-care routine for men. Working out has so many benefits, including raising your testosterone levels, making you feel and look good, as well as giving you a significant boost in confidence. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that you should aim for biceps or a six-pack. The best strategy is to choose a workout or physical activity that keeps you physically challenged and keeps your weight in check.
Self-care is not just restricted to physical activities like time spent at the gym, but it also incorporates the spirit and mind. Caring for your mental, spiritual and emotional well being are all equally essential. For example, you can use meditation to alleviate stress and also connect better with your own body. A modern form of meditation, which would primarily be appealing for men, is one that involves slow movement. It’s not reserved for simply sitting on a cushion like a yogi. Some men consider activities like surfing, walking in nature and hunting to be extremely meditative. Remember, meditation is a practice which can used and applied to everyday moments in life to help you remain calm and centered.
Journaling is a great activity to tie onto your mediation practice. It’s a shame that it isn’t adopted by more men. This is a wonderful opportunity to dive in deep to your own internal experiences and unravel what’s really going on inside for you, rather than just ignoring your feelings and pushing them down. And don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be colored pencils and ‘dear diary’ entries if you’re worried it might threaten your masculinity. Go get yourself a leather journal for men to erase that sterotype!
Figure out your Passion
Figuring out and then engaging with the things that spark passion or interest in your life also marks a crucial point in self-care for men. Do you enjoy watching soccer or do you like spending time outdoors in nature? Setting time aside to participate in these passionate activities, regardless of what they are, will bring you joy. Pursuit and ambition is a huge part of being a man. Bringing purpose and passion into these areas will add a whole new dimension to your way of life.
Have Some Alone Time
An essential way of ensuring you succeed in self-care is to set some alone time for yourself. It’s easy for men to get caught up being busy with daily routine, especially providing for their families. However, you must prioritize and create space for self-care practices. Remember that creating that time or space is not selfish, but rather it is essential for you to keep performing at your level best, which will inherently seep into all other areas in your life.
As you can see, self-care is more than activities that people build into their daily lives, but it is a change in mindset to check in regularly with yourself and put yourself first sometimes as a man. It means men can focus on the healthy, preventive practices listed above rather than having to repair and recover from injuries after the damage has been done to their minds and bodies. Men, it is now time to ensure you take better care of yourselves by investing in meditation, socialization, proper grooming and other self-care practices that push you towards a healthier and happier life.