While women traditionally take on the role of caretakers and are most often the ones who need reminding that self-care is sexy, men are the ones who are the least likely to address their self-care needs. Guys are usually not encouraged to share their feelings, let alone talk about self-care. They may be conditioned to be supportive, strong, and to not show any weakness. That is why they may find it massively difficult to self-assess, or if they are able to self-assess, they may not tend to share it freely. It can be a challenge to express self-care needs for anyone, but guys generally have that additional stigma that makes it even harder.
Why is it so hard for men to take care of themselves or talk about it? Is it the pressures of modern life? Is it societal conditioning? Or is that we, as a culture, don’t give them permission? Only recently have we seen a shift in allowance of men talking about and addressing their self-care needs. The mainstream concept of the Man-Cave is an indicator of a shift in perspective. It’s also not unheard of to see a man at the salon getting a manicure or pedicure. This trend is a positive sign that men are joining the self-care movement. The only addition that we need is to get them to talk about it
Why is it good for men to talk about self-care? It starts a conversation about needs and feelings. Talking about self-care can help men to become more open and self-aware of the need for self-care and compassion. Practicing self-care can help others understand the importance of addressing their own needs. It can help one to develop a relationship with oneself, and it helps one to learn that it’s okay to pamper oneself. Men that practice consistent self-care are more likely to be understanding to the others around them that also need permission. If a guy exhibits a self-care routine and is open about it, it can give permission to other dudes in his life, as well as the ladies, to practice self-care.. Addressing the needs of oneself, developing self-compassion, and talking about it can unlock it for others to do the same. In order to build a healthy, balanced, and more compassionate society, one must first start with oneself, then the family, and then the community. Everyone needs permission to practice self-care.
Here are some ways that men could practice self-care:
- Old fashioned barber shop haircut and shave. There is nothing like getting manscaped, and feeling fresh and fine! Many places offer speciality drinks while you get a tril. Ditch the $5 cut, and splurge on yourself this month!
- Take a hike. Get out in nature, exert yourself, and embrace quiet time. It’s fun to go with buddies, but maybe try an adventure alone for some serious reconnection time.
- Get a professional massage. Body work is important for everyone, but men often don’t consider this an option. Framing it as a sports massage might make the concept easier to incorporate into the routine.
- Blow something up or set it on fire. It’s dangerous and can be illegal and we by no means condone that behavior. However, if you are able to have a safe experience that allows you to release tension through safe destruction, work it out! We take no liability or responsibility. Just be safe, silly.
- Leave work at work. If you have a demanding job that likes to follow you home, try to dedicate one night a week (to start) where work is not allowed to come home with you. Alert your boss, disable email, and give yourself permission to have a night off. There is a reason the unions created and fought so hard for a 40 hour work week.
- Buy yourself a GQ suit. Or, you know, the equivalent of your idea of a high-end fashion piece. You deserve to look and feel your best. Give up the jeans/slacks that don’t fit right or have holes or stains. Ditch the disheveled look and grant yourself a high roller’s look. It feels good to suit up once in awhile.
- Talk about your feelings. Simple yet effective: talking helps. You could talk to a professional and no one has to know. Or you could dial up a buddy you feel safe around who can lend an ear. As uncomfortable as it may seem at first, it can be what helps most.
*If applicable, I encourage you to talk with your partner and be open with them about your feelings. However, what I am suggesting here is someone to talk to outside your relationship.
- Clean out your sock drawer.Get rid of the old, dingy, and tattered socks. It’s an easy way to declutter your space and metaphorically clear your head.
- Get a manicure. If you’re worried someone might see you, go to a place far out of town. Taking care of your hands and feet is a gateway to self-care!
- Adventure time.AKA #havingameparty! Do something fun you’ve never done before, like archery, paintball, a hot air balloon ride, roller skating, coloring, or making sushi! Get creative! The idea is to put yourself in unfamiliar settings and see what comes from it!
- Go to the damn doctor.Men can be so reluctant to get health care until something is bleeding profusely or falling off. And even then, some guys are just like, “Oh, cool!” and then take a picture and post it to Facebook. Yikes! Guys, go get checked out. Think of it as maintenance. You’ll do it for your car, so why not yourself?
Gender aside, it can be a challenge for everyone to fit in self-care. We need constant reminders and permission from one another. The more we make and stick to our commitment to put ourselves first, the easier it becomes. Self-care does not promise to eliminate suffering or to make people better at talking about their feelings, but it does allow us to self-assess and develop self-compassion. The better we take care of ourselves, the better we can be for others around us.