Self-care is often misunderstood by many men who might conjure images of yoga, self-help books, and bathing in a spa surrounded by scented candles. Despite what social media may have you believe, self-care is so much more than that.
You might be surprised to find you already engage in some version of your own self-care ritual, minus the cheesy label of it being called ‘self-care.’ Maybe you consistently participate in a physical activity or hobby that brings you pure joy and leaves you feeling inspired and energized, or maybe it’s a moment of peace you enjoy having a cup of coffee on the patio before leaving for work of a morning. It could be that you take time to properly groom yourself and you take pride in your appearance. These are varying degrees of self-care. All labels aside, it’s simply a way to define the act of intentionally creating time and space in your life to partake in activities or practices that feel restorative and nurturing to you.
This can be difficult for many men to stomach, especially if you already a family depending on you, as it may seem contradictory to focus your attention on yourself, rather than your loved ones. One would argue, self care is even more critical for the family man given you do have others you care about deeply who are dependent on you. The truth is, you have to take care of yourself before you take care of anyone else, and before you can effectively pursue your goals.
Self-Care Is Not Just for Women
Most self-care marketing and product advertisements are geared toward the fairer sex. But men need to prioritize self-care just as much as women. Consider coming home from work at the end of a long day – you have to give yourself a little self-care so you can show up to work the next day, fully re-energized and ready to do your best. And more importantly, so you can show up fully for your family with the full attention and energy they deserve, rather than only leaving them the left-over reserves from your day.
Self-care is important so that you can:
- Recharge at the end of the day
- Maintain good health over your life
- Have the energy and confidence to handle setbacks or trouble
- Be a rock for your family/significant other
In short, self-care helps you to be the best possible version of yourself. It takes time and a little self-reflection, but learning how to practice good self-care will result in a better day-to-day experience and more energy throughout your week. Self-care isn’t selfish: it’s necessary!
Here are the 7 major ways you can partake in your own self-care ritual.
Start An Exercise Routine
Arguably the best possible way to practice self-care as a man is to exercise. You don’t even have to head to the gym. Just going for a run around your neighborhood or purchasing a few weights to use at home, and you’ve got a bootstrapped exercise routine without spending tons of cash.
Exercise feels good, boosts your testosterone levels, will make you look great once you build up muscle and burn away fat, and will help you live longer, to boot. Not to forget to mention that exercise can help melt away stress hormones, it can help you relax at the end of a long day.
Follow Good Hygiene Routines
Hygiene is critically important for men, even though far too few guys practice excellent hygiene routines. Hygiene is about more than looking good; in some cases, like with oral hygiene, it’s important so that you don’t suffer from cavities or similar health issues.
But practicing self-care and following good hygiene routines you’ll not only keep your health and appearance looking good, you will boost your confidence, and increase your chances of finding an attractive significant other. That is, if you’re having romantic troubles, start here. For those already hitched, it’ll help keep that attractive spark alive in the relationship and have your partner star-gazing at you for years to come.
Eating well is actually a big component of self-care. You are what you eat, literally, so eating healthily and avoiding the temptation to drown your woes with too many beers or candy bars will go a long way toward your overall health and how you feel in your day-to-day.
It may be beneficial to learn how to cook healthy homemade dishes that incorporate lots of vegetables and lean meats. This is not only a great skill that will translate to tons of social occasions throughout your life, but it helps you save money that you can spend on other things instead of eating out.
Practice Emotional Vulnerability
Many boys grow up feeling ashamed of their emotions and aren’t taught how to properly vent their feeling or express themselves in healthful ways. While women are traditionally more apt at creating support networks, and generally speaking, are much better at expressing their feelings, men are more often taught to suppress their emotions, often to terrible results. Thankfully, the tides are turning and as we’re becoming a more emotionally aware society at large, men are being encouraged to speak up and embrace their own emotional sides.
Practicing self-care involves learning how to be emotionally vulnerable with people who are close to you. Close friends and family members are there to support you. Having a few guy friends who you can confide in from time to time in an open and honest way is vital for nurturing your healthy masculine.
Practicing emotional vulnerability also results in greater emotional intelligence: an area that many men are somewhat deficient in.
Keep a Journal
In lieu of actually venting your feelings to friends or family, you can practice emotional vulnerability by keeping a journal. In this private context, you can still talk about all your thoughts and feelings, but you’ll get them out of your head and feel better after a private journaling session. It’s a great middle-ground if you aren’t fully comfortable talking about your feelings right now but still want to express yourself. And remember, some of the world’s greatest writers are men. While you certainly don’t need to be a Hemingway to keep a journal, it’s important to note that men are just as capable as women of feeling emotions and expressing them through the written word. The best part is, you have some great leather bound notebook options for men on the market these days that won’t threaten your masculinity.
Find a Good Hobby
In order to have a fulfilling life, you need to do things outside of work and/or school. Finding a hobby is a great way to practice self-care and let yourself simply do something you enjoy for the sake of the activity. Arguably too much of our lives are devoted to earning money or pursuing long-term goals.
Sometimes it’s fantastic to just play basketball with your friends or sit down and enjoy a video game. Whatever you like to do, make time for throughout your week. This is the best way to recharge after experiencing a stressful shift at work.
Spend Time Outside
Lastly, you can practice self-care by spending more time outside. These days, we all tend to stare at our phones or remain indoors instead of stepping outdoors. Go hiking, play a sport, or even go on a leisurely stroll through your neighborhood. Letting your skin soak up some sunshine and just listening to birds will go a long way toward boosting your mental health and helping you feel a little less stressed.
If you try out each (or even some) of these methods, you’ll feel better, happier, and healthier overall!
Bio: Yusuf is the head leather craftsman and oversees the business operations of the popular online leather goods company, Galen Leather, which was originally founded by his late sister, Zeynep. They handcraft unique leather notebook covers, portfolios, wallets, bags and so much more, blending their love for both the analogue and digital.