Why Men Deserve Self-Care
(And some tips to get started)
I haven’t always taken the best care of myself.
Truth be told I still don’t—but I’m making incremental improvements.
Over the past few years, as I’ve settled into my 30s after what I think many would consider a pretty wild previous decade, rife with physical and emotional self-sabotage, several different instances of at least borderline burnout and a general lack of regard for pretty much every facet of my health that I could have had any control over, I’ve finally come to recognize and embrace the importance of self-care.
And in news that nobody should find surprising, I’m a lot better for it.
Some of the things I do for self-care—whether religiously, rather regularly or once in a blue moon—were a little bit difficult for me to initially get into. I felt like accepting that I needed to do things to look out for myself and deal with some of the issues neglecting it had prompted or exacerbated was to show a sign of weakness. And I’d spent a great portion of my life lamenting my inherent lack of toughness to begin with, so admitting it by implementing certain self-care initiatives into my daily routines wasn’t something I was all that excited to do.
But you know what can be tough?
Admitting to yourself and others that sometimes you have moments of weakness (be they minor or crippling) and being willing to take the steps to improve your mental and physical health.
Corny as it may sound, you’re worth it.
No—you know what? That’s not corny. Saying shit like that sounds corny just contributes to the problem. It’s not corny at all. It’s the truth.
Here are just a few rather easy things you can do to take better care of yourself.
It took me until the brink of 30 to break down (literally) and drag my broken psyche to therapy. That combined with some pharmacological assistance has been a crucial pillar of my self-care—something I now wish I had done much sooner.
Speaking with someone who isn’t a friend or family member can be extremely, well, therapeutic. It can be difficult especially at the outset, but will ultimately help (once you find a therapist who is a good fit for what you want and need). Therapists can also send you away with exercises to work on that will help you combat the negative thoughts and feelings that might be making your life more difficult than it has to be.
And if you can’t or don’t want to sit on a couch for an hour a week, there are plenty of options now for online therapy.
You’ll feel better and look better. Hell—it may even help you live longer. Making room for exercise and committing to a routine can be exhausting and unpleasant at first, but before long, and once results begin to show, it’ll become something you make sure you regularly fit into your schedule.
Have some sex (or masturbate)
If you have a partner, great. Fuck away, my man. And if not? go ahead and whack off. With impunity. There’s no shame whatsoever in that game, and it’s important to regularly get off, whether it’s by your own hand or some other method. It’s a release that helps you keep an even keel. Also, orgasms are, to put it lightly, very dope.
Sex can wait. Meditate! (Sorry.)
When your life and thoughts are racing, meditation can help you get back to neutral. All it takes is finding a quiet place and attempting to clear your head by monitoring (and maybe counting) your breath. If you’re just getting started, classes or apps might help. My go-to is Headspace. It’s easy to use and has plenty of guided meditation programs for whatever you need, from decreasing anxiety to helping you sleep and a bunch of stuff in-between.
Going out, letting loose, getting a little weird and letting your freak flag fly might seem more destructive than a means of self-care, and sometimes it is, but it’s also about context. If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends at work, in life or both, and you want to go out with some friends and knock a few back and blow off some steam, that’s a perfectly viable form of self-care. Will you be hungover the next day? Quite possibly. But just think of that time as an opportunity to rest up and hit reset. As much as a night out can take from you, it can also be extremely rejuvenating—because, well, socializing is important. And you may find that the more you take care of yourself, the better equipped and excited you are to spend time out in public with your friends, family or a significant other.
Or stay in
Some of the best nights I’ve had recently have entailed coming home, stripping down to my boxers, rubbing one out and then reading or watching Netflix. I find it restorative. And if you feel like it’s what you should do or even need to do, go ahead and do it. One of the most important facets of self-care is realizing and accepting what you need to do, and then doing that sans apology.
Sometimes “that” ends up being “nothing.” And there’s nothing wrong with that.