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What is Self-Care
Is this some kind of new trendy word that people are jumping on the bandwagon temporarily? Is this just a fad concept that will be nothing more than a fleeting memory in the minds of people? Or is this a new and permanent approach that people, therapists, and even companies are starting to ask others to subscribe in finding their own self-care routine? I am going to go with the latter and none of the formers.
According to the World Health Organization, their definition of self-care is “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health-care provider. This sounds like a very simple concept. However, many men (and women) will often neglect this fairly simple concept for a multitude of reasons. “I’m too busy” or “I have to take care of my kids” are two of many different reasons I have heard used to neglect their own self-care.
To be honest with everyone, I am guilty for making some of those excuses. I have went out of my way in justifying why I could not participate in my own self-care. In my experience with this, I was getting sick more often, lost weight rapidly from not eating enough, gained weight from becoming sedentary, and became defensive and irritable with others very quickly.
A person might think that it’s just “all in your head” and you can “snap out of it.” To a degree, I can see why someone may say that is all in your head but to snap out of it isn’t all that easy. From my experience, I felt like I was spiraling and was “stuck” in my situation and didn’t necessarily see it improving any time soon. Luckily, I have a good support system in place and I can lean on my friends and family when I feel that I am stuck. It is unfortunate that everyone doesn’t have that kind of support and will continue to spiral into other self-destructive behaviors.
Men and Self-Care
So how does this relate to men and why do I bother discussing this topic? It is ingrained in us from a young child that talking and exploring our feelings is a sign of weakness. If you’re hurt, you have to “tough it out” and move on from the situation. I am here to tell you that this type of thinking will only lead to our downfall.
Why is that? As a counselor, I talk with people all the time about the feelings they possess. I share with them that the feelings they have about a situation will eventually bubble to the surface and into their lives at some point. It is their responsibility to explore those feelings in a productive manner. If we do not explore those feelings in a productive manner, it will come out in ways that are either unproductive or self-destructive. This includes but is not limited to aggression, avoidance, burnout, substance abuse, and feelings of depression and anxiety.
Anxiety and Depression
Speaking of anxiety and depression, often times these feelings are based on events that happened in the past or future. I am telling you that it is okay to reflect on past events and events that have not happened yet. However, it is important to note that it becomes problematic when your thoughts about these events leads to being unproductive. Are you someone who becomes immobilized by anxiety which prevents you from doing a task because of all the “what if” questions you possess? Have you ever been so down on yourself that it stopped you from doing an activity because you believe that you will only “mess things up like you always do?” If so, that is an example of being too far on either side of the future or past.
Have you ever driven somewhere and you’re reflecting about things that have happened or things you need to do? Once you are deep in your thoughts, did you realize you could have possibly ran a red light? If so, that means you were not in the present moment. Down below is a chart that illustrates this concept and I will use the example to explain this. In the scenario I provided, you were physically driving the car in the present moment. However, your thoughts did not match where you were in the present moment. You were likely too far in the past or future to notice the red light that you had just ran. If you would like another example of this concept, check out Just Mind’s blog for another example of this.
How Does All of This Tie into Self-care?
How Does This Tie into Self-Care
The importance of self-care is to ground us back to the present moment when we have these feelings of inadequacy. In our society, men tend to shy away from exploring those feelings. Us men tend to bottle up their emotions because it is the “manly” thing to do. I talk about some of the consequences of our feelings of inadequacy in this blog.
If we are going to be the best version of ourselves for our spouses, children, and friends then we need to develop a healthy self-care routine. When I feel stressed out I play sports, talk with my wife, listen to music while driving, and workout. Your self-care routine will look different. When I used to teach at a PHP program, there was a huge emphasis on self-care. In my student’s plans, they would draw, clean my classroom (I didn’t have any objection to that lol), help other staff members, listen to music, talk to a trusted adult, and other productive tasks.
There are endless tasks one can do to participate in their own self-care. What is your self-care routine? I challenge all of you to identify five tasks you can do to help clear your minds when you are feeling stress. It could be working on your car, playing video games, or perhaps reading the news. I challenge you to discuss a self-care routine for everyone in your household. You can model this concept for your spouse and children. I am not asking you to be perfect while doing so. I am asking that you take an effort in leading your family and friends to becoming the best version of themselves in addition to you. If you need any ideas to get started, here is a list of some of the top tips I use for my own self-care.
You can also dive DEEP into creating your own self-care plan by checking out the Supportive Father’s self-care course and 30-Day challenge. These offerings will provide comprehensive self-care tips, enable you to reflect, journal, and apply what you learn to your life.
If anyone wants to share their thoughts and suggestions for other men regarding self-care, please leave your comments down below. I would love to be able to empower other men to be at their very best.
Cameron is the creator of Supportive Fathers. He created Supportive Fathers as a way to help explore topics other dads encounter in everyday life. Cameron is very passionate about being a father to 2 year old daughter as well as being the husband possible to his wife. To read more of his story, please click here.