Self-Care for Men
Even the most woke among us can sometimes view the world through stereotypes. No matter how sensitive we try to be, none of us are totally immune to generalizations. Even as licensed psychologists, these ideas can slip through the cracks.
One topic where we see this is self-care. It’s safe to say that, when most of us contemplate the idea of self-care, we’re imagining a woman with a face mask painting her nails. We might also visualize her in a bathrobe, on her sofa with a glass of matcha tea or rosé.
The messages we receive:
So, why is this the case? Why is self-care so frequently related to women over men? As with so many topics that center around gender, it has to do with the messages we receive from society. Plainly put, we view women as more likely to become overwhelmed, sensual, and require a break. On the other hand, men are expected to be work-horses who should ignore or overlook their feelings.
We won’t get into how damaging these messages can be, for both men and women, since that’s pretty self-explanatory. However, specifically, these societal messages tend to put men at a disadvantage when it comes to self-care.
The world through a guy’s eyes:
Ironically, these same societal pressures make guys especially vulnerable to physical, professional, and emotional burnout. The expectations we place on men tend to push them into work that is physically draining, work that requires extra-long hours for the family unit’s benefit, and carry a bulk of the financial responsibilities.
On top of the extra strain they face, guys may not feel comfortable voicing when they’re overwhelmed, sad, exhausted, or worried. This can spell chaos for a person’s overall wellbeing, which is precisely why we should all work to normalize the idea of men practicing self-care.
It’s crazy to think about how obvious the idea of self-care is. Some of the first things kids learn in preschool have to do with eating healthy, avoiding things that make them sick, regulating their bodily functions, and identifying basic feelings.
But alas, common sense can be one of the most uncommon of traits. Our lives get so complicated as we get older. We become so driven, we focus on career and family and finances… often to the detriment of our most basic wellbeing. This is why mental health professionals worldwide have started to focus on the importance of self-care in their client’s lives.
What’s more important than how you feel?
Think about it: what good is all the money, all the sex, even all the professional success in the world, if you feel like shit? We want these things because they make us feel good. Still, we spend so much of our lives chasing after them that we forget that feeling good is really the ultimate goal, and self-care is actually the most direct way to get there.
Basically put, self-care is about deciding to remember our own needs and wants across various areas of our lives. Implementing a self-care practice can start with a simple question: how do I feel? Try it: how do you feel? Throw out anything that comes to mind- are you tired, excited, sad, stressed, optimistic, bloated, gassy, horny?!
This simple question can provide several important clues about the areas of your life that might require some tending to.