When it’s time for a haircut, I go to a barbershop. Fifteen-or-so chairs with cracked red leather and cigarette burns from a kinder, more carcinogenic time. Straight razor shaves, hot lather, sports talk, and ear hair as far as the eye can see. Hair “consultation?” The barber asks me what number blade I want on the clippers—does that count? I love getting my haircut. It always leaves me feeling refreshed. Renewed. I’ve come around to the idea that getting a haircut is a form of self-care, and I’m not the only one with XY chromosomes who feels that way.
This One Goes Out to the Ladies
Aaaah, self-care. The word alone conjures images of candle-lit bubble baths, Dead Sea salt masks, and harnessing one’s chi. And, if marketing is any indicator, it would appear that the most prominent evangelists (and consumers) of all things self-care are women.
And, just how big is the self-care world? Well, in 2017, it was estimated to be in the neighborhood of $3.7 trillion. I know, nice neighborhood!
The term “self-care” itself, defined as “taking care of one’s own health and needs,” hit a five-year high of Google search interest in November 2016 and has been steadily climbing ever since. You’d think that something centered around pampering yourself and putting your individual needs first would appeal to men, too. It turns out it does! So, pass the avocado foot scrub, please.
Big Boys Don’t Cry (But They Do Enjoy the Occasional Pedicure)
Fair or not, there’s a stigma attached to men doing anything that could even remotely be considered self-care, namely that it’s not masculine. That, by indulging in any form of self-care, their work is going to suffer. That, by putting themselves first, they’re putting the needs of others second, which is especially tricky for fathers. In short, they think that their “manliness” is going to take a significant hit.
Here’s the thing: I think it’s the exact opposite. I think going for the occasional manicure, facial, or even a calming stroll through a Japanese garden screams masculinity. Why? Because at the gooey, chewy center of masculinity resides confidence, which—in my opinion—is the ultimate yardstick by which masculinity should be measured.
However, most men think that the language of self-care involves words like “reps,” “sets,” and “spot me, bro.” Self-care isn’t just about physical activity. Taking care of one’s mental, emotional, and spiritual health are equally important.
Turning Self-Care into Guy Stuff
There’s no right or wrong way to look at self-care. Truthfully, self-care means different things for each one of us, and guess what, that’s the way it should be. Here, I’ll prove my point.
Oh, come on, don’t act surprised. You knew this was going to be on the list. Seriously though, instead of pumping iron, try hitting the yoga mat. It can be just as challenging and has positive effects on the mind, body, and spirit.
Don’t overthink it. Just give meditation a go. As little as 10 minutes a day can make a world of difference. And, no, people aren’t going to look at you weird.
If you’ve been on edge about something, take a step back and reflect by journaling. Gain better clarity by putting pen to paper and working out what’s floating around your head; sort through frustrations or practice gratitude.
Take a Nap
Trust me on this one. On the next gray, rainy day, when the house is quiet, go and take a nap. Even if it’s just for an hour.
I look forward to my weekend naps all week. My partner? Not so much.
Eat Your Favorite Food
Yeah, yeah, I know, calories, cholesterol, blah, blah, blah. I’m not saying you should make a habit of it, but now and then grab your favorite food, put on your favorite show or movie, and go to town. Eat-in bed, if you want. If you don’t occasionally indulge in what makes you happy, what’s the point in, well, anything?
A Note from GR8NESS
This all comes down to a straightforward truth, guys: it’s okay to be kind to yourself. To treat your mind and body with care, however, you define what that care is. We’re all out in the world trying to be good people, doing the right things, and even on the best of days, that’s not an easy gig. So, don’t judge yourselves too harshly. It’s okay to take care of you, also. You count. Your happiness matters.