Why Self-Care For Men Is So Important (And 7 Ways To Give Yourself The Attention You Need)

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Why Self-Care For Men Is So Important (And 7 Ways To Give Yourself The Attention You Need)
Contributor
Self

If you’re a guy, chances are it’s been a while since you've really checked in with yourself.

If you have, congratulations! But if you haven’t, we need to talk about the lack of self-care going on among men.

Men are conditioned to — well, to be men. The stereotypical man carries other’s burdens and is “tough.” They won’t talk about their feelings and will shrug off anything thrown at them. Which is maybe good in theory, but it’s near impossible to practice.

Human beings aren’t machines: we can’t shoulder on unendingly. Everyone needs breaks and pauses. And just as you’d stop to rest while doing some physically taxing, it’s important to do the same for anything emotionally or mentally difficult. Especially given the circumstances of everything that’s currently going on in the world.

So the question is: what does self-care for men look like?

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Of course, it varies from person to person. For me, it starts with my hobbies. I like to cook, bike, and read. I do these things when I’m feeling unproductive, frustrated, or drained, and they usually help to push my mood into something more positive. I also like to reach out to my friends if I'm dealing with stress I can't easily get a grip on by myself. 

But what works for you is going to depend on what you like to do. 

Here are a few ways to figure out what self-care means to you.

1. Do something that relaxes you.

Then make it a habit.

Everyone has something they like to do. Most of the time, this is generally something that’s relaxing! So make it a point of making a habit of that activity.

It may be that you can’t perfectly replicate it — it might be expensive or take too much time to make it a regular habit. In these cases, just try and access some aspect of it every day.

If you like to go for really long runs but don’t have time for that, go for a short run every morning. If you like to go to sports games but can’t afford to go every week, try to get involved more in that sport around your community or stream your favorite sport. There’s a little of what you like that you can add to your lifestyle.

2. Switch up what you do on a daily basis to prevent getting into a rut or mental funk.

As mentioned before, sometimes I do things to change my mood or thinking. They’re usually a “break” from whatever I’m doing. This applies not only to work or any task, but just life in general.

If I’m tired because of personal stress, I try to do something to make me not think about that. That’s why I enjoy biking or reading: it lets me take a break from whatever is in my life so I can decompress and keep up my effort when I dive back in. 

3. Take time to sit and process without any distractions.

This also goes well with light exercise like biking or running. If you’re like most people you’re probably very connected to the internet and all the different accounts and social media platforms you’re juggling.

There have been times I’ve almost felt like a button pusher with how I mechanically respond to push notifications or my phone buzzing. Being connected, in other words, will sometimes deprive me of having the time to think without distraction or interruption.

Those times are important for everyone to have, as they allow you to take a step back from what you’re doing moment-to-moment and take stock of where you’re at in life. I’ve always found those opportunities as a refreshing change-of-pace. And as mentioned before, it’s very easy to do this when going to a park or walking your dog.

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4. Talk to your friends.

Seriously.

Most guys are told not to rely on others. This is especially true for your friends.

I’ve had a lot of friendships over the years which haven’t been much more than banter between me and the other person. But the closest friendships have always been dear to me and my wellbeing.

I know a lot of men who struggle to find friends that they can be vulnerable around beyond their partners. But what often is holding them back is the thought that there are no people besides their partners to be emotionally open with.

I’d recommend, however, that they try it with a friend before deciding that. A lot of guys feel emotionally shy and would welcome another guy opening up even just a little towards their feelings. It just makes it easier for them when the other person first opens the conversation to that.

5. Talk to your family.

This is similar to the suggestion above, but there concrete ways that opening up to your parents and family are different than opening up to your friends.

I’ve always found my friends to be good sources for commiserating over bad experiences we both feel because of age, but my family members are obviously at different points of their lives than me. However, because they’re family, they knew me in a different way than my friends, and particularly, they know better how to offer unreserved and unconditional support. Both my Mom and my Dad have been caring for me since birth and by now know well how to make me feel calm or comfortable if I ask for it.

I know among men part of growing up is distancing from your parents and caring for yourself. I’m suggesting not to do that. But I will say my parents and my family writ-large have always been there when I’ve needed to reach out to them for support.

6. Drink more water and eat better.

Simple habits can do a lot. I know a lot of guys who don’t take care of themselves well. This includes diet and specifically drinking water!

So many people don’t drink enough water. It’s super refreshing and healthy as heck. I can’t guarantee it’d be a magic cure-all for any stress or issues, but I will testify that drinking enough water has helped my day-to-day energy, including staving off headaches.

7. Sleep.

This may be the most important thing to at least try on this list. There was a very specific time in my life when I realized I could game my sleep schedule by setting alarms on my first smartphone. But I’m here to tell you that sleep is so, so crucial.

The days when I’m feeling run down and tired are the days I never got enough sleep. Magnify that by a week or a month, and there were some times in my life where I was suffering because I wasn’t letting my body get enough natural sleep.

It’s very important that, if you’re trying to care for yourself, you need to care for your body as well.

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Matthew Ameduri is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture, and relationship topics.