My husband started his Saturday at 6 am fishing at the lake. The fish weren’t biting that day but he didn’t mind. He just liked being out early with his pole and his thoughts. It’s his favorite way to unwind after a hard work week. I recently had a lightbulb moment where I realized this was his version of self-care.
Self-care is a real thing. It’s important to take care of yourself so you don’t burn out. This can look a lot of different ways: meditating, going for a walk, journaling, going to the doctor, or indulging in a massage are all forms of self-care. Anyone can do it, yet it’s overwhelmingly directed toward women.
From a cultural standpoint, it makes sense. Women have largely been defined by their ability to nurture those around them. When a popular cold remedy commercial laments that “moms don’t take sick days,” it’s clear that women, more often than men, have historically needed to be given a break because they can’t or won’t take them otherwise. However, research shows that men need self-care too. For instance, men still don’t live as long as women, and many men still wait as long as possible to see a doctor.
Men can benefit from much of the same self-care advice given to women, yet they often opt for unhealthy stress relievers like watching ESPN all day or drinking a six pack of beer because of the guilt associated with self-care for men. So many men have this idea that the only way to succeed is to work hard, do better, and be better than every guy around you. They may perceive self-care as weak or lazy for needing downtime. That is one reason why it’s taken society so long to recognize the need for male self-care.
Self-care is about promoting and increasing your overall mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. Self-care is about putting activities in place now in order to strengthen your base. If life is like a pyramid the stronger your base is the less likely it is you will fall.
Self-care is worth making a priority because:
- It improves your physical and mental health
- It decreases your stress levels and the negative impact of stress on your body
- It connects you to what your body is telling you about your health
- It makes you more resilient
- It helps keep creativity and performance up
- It helps you feel more well rested
- It can help increase your sex drive
- It inspires others around you to take time for themselves as well
In choosing your self-care ritual, it’s important to find what fits you, because self-care is a highly personal thing and will look different for everyone. Here are 28 ways for men to practice self-care.
The Gym – Exercise in general is a great way to practice self-care. Not only does exercise release endorphins, which are also known as the happy hormone, but exercise is also a great way to release tension and rid your body and mind of whatever frustrations have built up!
Welcoming Home Atmosphere – At the end of a long day, one thing that can make a big difference to men is to step through the doorways of a peaceful home. It may be as small as making sure the front entry area is clean and tidy or you have a place to put your keys. Be specific about what would make your home welcoming for you.
Healthy Food Options – No matter who contributes to the shopping and cooking, eating well does not have to be complicated or time consuming. Eating well ensures that you have more energy, vitality, and clarity throughout the day. Pay attention to what your body says after you eat.
Read – Reading is a great way to engage with your imagination, develop awesome communication skills, and take a relaxing break.
Shoot Something –Attending a shooting range can greatly assist in relieving stress. It takes both physical and mental strength to shoot. Focusing on a specific target gets out some of the pent-up frustrations and stress you may have developed.
Shower – Hot showers are not only perfect for relaxation but they are great for muscle and joint pain. The warm water stimulates circulation and blood flow while loosening joints, tendons, tissues, and muscles. Hot water is also great for cleansing the skin and reducing blemishes.
Walking (or Running) – Taking walks outside in the fresh air helps to promote clarity and focus. If you have a mental block, or just feeling frustrated take yourself outside for a brisk 10 minute walk. No phone or distraction, just you!
Practice Positive Self-Talk – Offset the critic inside your head and adopt a kinder approach to talking to yourself. Start to use positive language and positive self-talk to counteract the times when you undermine your efforts or criticize your results.
Journal – Use a journal to document important things that happen throughout the day and how it makes you feel. Use this as a tool to reflect on your accomplishments and to celebrate your success. Take stock of what you are grateful for and what made you happy.
Foster Spirituality – Attend a church service, pray, meditate, read the Bible, or give to charity to nurture your spiritual side. Inner peace and fulfillment allow you to be in harmony with your world.
Set Goals – There is no greater feeling than achieving a personal, professional, or physical goal you have set for yourself. Create a plan of action including how you will reward you hard work and celebrate your success.
Invest In Relationships – Adults are busy and have a hard time putting important relationships first. It’s important to find and connect with people who share the same values and beliefs that you do and there is no better way to find these people than by taking up a hobby or joining a group.
Sleep – Poor sleep is linked to depression, anxiety, and stress. Find a sleep pattern that helps you feel more rested and ready for your day.
Volunteer – When we volunteer for service work, we get away from our own mindset and start to focus on the needs of others. By showing up and giving your gifts you tap into the highest part of yourself that is never stressed and always has energy.
Ask For Help – Do not feel like you have to take on the world all by yourself. No one will think any less of you if you ask for help. That may mean seeing a pastor or professional counselor who can help you navigate some of the stresses in your life. Not asking for help when you need it the most is preventing you from achieving the best possible outcome.
Family Time – Clock in some quality time with your family with a family game night, camping, or taking the kids fishing with you. Whatever it is, the traditions you share with your family are important ways to nurture and express your love for the important people in your life, and to create those fond memories that make you a family.
Professional Shave – go to a real barber and get a haircut or a close shave.
Say No – You don’t have to feel guilty by saying no to people or events to give yourself more of a break.
Spend Time In Nature – Go for a hike, go fishing, work in a garden, or hit the beach. Spend time in a surrounding that soothes, relaxes, and keeps you in tune with the world.
Plan A Trip – A trip away can help you rejuvenate and recharge. This could be a guys’ weekend or a family vacation. Just make sure the trip is about relaxation. You shouldn’t come back from vacation needing a vacation!
Get A Massage – Many men carry their stress in their shoulders and back muscles. Much like a hot shower, a massage can help destress tight muscles in the body.
Massage Your Wife’s Feet – I’m kidding, I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. J
Spend Time In Supportive Groups – Join a men’s group, church gatherings, prayer group, or whatever works for you. There’s no comparison to the power of group consciousness, especially when it’s intention is for healing, awakening and support.
Find Your Inner Gift – Maybe you have a hobby you’d like to spend more time on, or maybe you’d make a great coach or mentor to others. Finding your inner talents and bringing them out can be very rewarding.
Let It Go – Do not carry around emotional baggage. If you have an issue with someone, process it, clear it, let it go, either with or without them as soon as possible after it happens!
Try Something New – Exploring new things, new places, and pushing beyond your comfort zone can be exhilarating and give you a boost of energy as well.
Get A Pet – Positive psychological effects of the relationship between man and his best friend have been researched and documented. People with pets tend to live longer and are happier.
Try An App – The simple practice of closing your eyes, and breathing deeply to calm your nervous system can change how you handle the stresses of daily life. Some apps have guided meditations that you can listen to anywhere.
These are just a few ideas for self-care that work particularly well for many men. Some of these things are focused on preventing stress, and some are great for handling it. Either way, these are all excellent tools to have on hand.