For the longest time when we talk about self-care, we immediately associate it with women. We talk about scented candles, massages, long walks, and spending time alone, all of which men feel are too gentle for them. However, research shows that there is nothing gendered about self-care, at the end of it we all deserve to take care of ourselves in a way that replenishes us. Nonetheless, it still doesn’t come naturally to most men.
Why is that so? Should Men not indulge in Self-Care?
Over the years, as we developed as a society, certain rules and expectations formed that separated both genders in a more acceptable way to coexist. These expectations, however, have made men feel that indulging in self-care activities such as taking time off, or slowing down are for the weak and they need to put their strong foot forward at each point. This gets reinforced by the group of men they spend time with, forcing them to constantly present themselves strongly to be accepted, making it difficult for most to indulge in activities that might be self-care in the real sense. One of the most common examples that can help you understand the context of the above statement is a breakup. A man when tells his friends about the break-up, the primary solution offered is alcohol, isn’t it?
While others might simply not be aware of how to take care of themselves. For most self-care is mainly indulging in physical activity such as hitting the gym, or being a part of adventurous activities, however, self-care is more than just that. As much as self-care is about doing certain things it is also about not doing anything at all and spending that time to just be yourself, something that most men find hard to do either because they haven’t learnt it or don’t know how to.
Men who present themselves calmly, take some time out in the week to indulge in activities that they like or climb the spiritual paths, bring back home peace, happiness, and higher energy which radiates onto people around them. Most men however might not be aware of how their mood impacts others around them. It can be a good start to take feedback to understand how lack of self-care not only affects them but also the people around them.
“It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more ‘manhood’ to abide by thought-out principles rather than blind reflex. Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not muscles and an immature mind.” – Alex Karras, athlete, actor, and author.
Let’s understand a few ways in which men can truly indulge in self-care apart from physical activities -
1. Taking out time to do nothing
As much as getting things done is productive, doing nothing for some time during the day every day has been scientifically proven to enhance productivity. How does that happen? Doing nothing helps our nervous system to move from fight or flight mode towards activating the parasympathetic nervous system which helps to relax from the constant stress that we carry with us and in turn, come back stronger.
2. Spending time in nature
Nature is the best source of relaxation as it aids both the body and the mind. Spending just 20 minutes connecting with nature can help lower stress hormone levels, according to a study conducted in 2019 published in Frontiers of Psychology. It also releases happy hormones such as serotonin, thus enhancing our overall health.
3. Scented candles, massages, and long walks are not just for women
Here is busting a myth for all the men out there. You can equally find these things pleasurable and calming and there is nothing feminine about it. It aids rejuvenation in men the same way it does in women. So! Why should women have all the fun?!
4. Indulging in breath work or mindfulness practices
Mindfulness means being observant, non-judgmental, and fully immersed in the present moment. With the fast-paced world that we are living in it can get difficult to take a pause and just be present in the moment free from judgments. Mindfulness has been proven to increase awareness and regulate thoughts and emotions better.
5. Reaching out when you need help
Men aren't often found to be seeking help. Seeking support can be a form of self-care when we allow ourselves to be taken care of by others who can help us better deal with situations or simply be there. Often it is seen as a sign of weakness and a perception that exists among men to do it all by themselves, however, support from partners, parents, friends, or a professional shows strength and lowers the pressure of doing everything by ourselves.
While these are only a few ways, several practices can be individualized for each person. After all, one size doesn't fit all! This International Men's Day, let's pledge to build a society where we can normalize and encourage self-care for all the men around us and let go of all the preconceived notions and expectations. Let’s take a step towards a healthier world!