The pandemic has changed how many people do life, and it also has placed self-care as a priority not just for women but for men as well.
Now, men are normalising self-care and moving away from the conventional association of self-care with women. It's now well acknowledged that self-care knows no gender because it is the art and act of consciously putting yourself first.
While the idea of self-care may differ from person to person, in general, it refers to the practice of taking care of oneself by participating in behaviours that promote personal health and well-being.
Paul Tran, Founder and CEO of MANSCAPED™, a company that specialises in male grooming, said: “Since there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to self-care, it’s up to the individual to determine what type of activities help them feel like their best self. Some opt for heart-pumping adrenaline rushes through physical activity while others prefer personal pampering and extended grooming routines to boost confidence and level up.”
There is a pervasive societal norm whereby men place their own health and well-being at the very bottom of their priority list. But amid Covid-19 and great social unrest, mental health professionals are advocating for men to take care of their physical and mental health.
In 2019, a study done by World Health Organization showed that suicide was the fourth leading cause of death in males between the ages of 15 and 19 years old. The age-standardised suicide rate was shockingly 2.3 times higher in males than in females.
Self-care is also a recognition that mental, emotional and physical health are all closely intertwined and that to be a healthy man, you need to make sure everything is aligned.
For most men, though, this all sounds like foreign concepts. It is not uncommon to find in males an aversion to visiting the doctor.
A survey of men by Cleveland Clinic found that 65% of respondents say they avoid going to the doctor for as long as possible.
Psychiatrist Dr Ian Westmore says that a great deal of men has been culturally conditioned to take up the traditional ‘masculine’ role, including being seen to be ‘emotionally stable and strong’.
He notes that the process of seeking medical attention implies vulnerability, and this is problematically seen to be in direct contrast to the above. Westmore said the key to cutting through the ‘superhero syndrome’ often associated with men’s reluctance to seek medical help is to provide them with facts as men are typically fact and solution orientated.
While a massage, scented candles and socking in the bathtub might be great for some guys, there are many ways to maintain a healthy self-care routine. Tran shares five self-care tips for men:
Start your day with 10 minutes of meditation. Setting aside some time each morning to calm your mind and be present in the moment can work wonders for your mental and physical health. With benefits ranging from reduced anxiety and stress to better sleep, meditation is one of the simplest, yet most impactful forms of self-care. Can’t concentrate at home? Try yoga and kill two birds with one stone, i.e. meditation and movement.
Elevate your daily grooming routine
Self-esteem and confidence are intrinsically linked to self-care, and nothing makes you feel your absolute best, like a proper grooming and hygiene regimen. Recent consumer insight surveys show that men value grooming now more than ever as a way to boost their confidence and feel more like their best selves post-pandemic.
Make weekly extended grooming a priority
Self-Care Sunday got its name for a reason, and it’s not just for women. Making time each week to take care of your personal grooming needs that may not need to happen every day – think trimming your nails or tidying up your nose and ear hair – will help build your overall confidence and increase self-esteem. Throw on a face mask, soak in a hot shower, exfoliate your body, find whatever it is that boosts your mood and makes you feel extra relaxed and taken care of.
Spend more time with family
Being with the people you love most can be a form of self-care, especially if you spend this time without distractions from technology. Quality time with my family has helped me cope with stress and improve my overall psychological well-being.
Move your body
This one may be tough, but it’s important. It has been proven that exercise reduces stress and boosts endorphins, but what many people overlook is that exercise comes in many forms. From cycling or boxing to walking your dog or playing with your kids, it’s possible to make movement part of your day in a way that fits within your schedule and in a capacity that feels best for your body. A study from the University of Maryland School of Public Health found exercise can help to manage stressful situations in daily life.
Every man has a different way of practising self-care, and remember, self-care isn’t just what you do, it’s a mindset, but taking care of yourself can be a radical act of service to you and to others.