Alright gentlemen, we’ve all heard the ladies in our lives raving about self-care, and you may have even heard a song or two about it. But what does “self-care” really mean, and why does no one seem to talk about how men can participate?
Self-care is defined as “taking an active role in preserving or improving one’s health.” While this clearly isn’t a gendered definition, this idea has certainly taken off more prevalently with women than men, partially because men’s health is centered on physical health metrics, like strength and weight. While self-care can include physical actions, it will help your mental health as well, which is where self-care really makes the biggest impact. Here are some of the best ways to care for yourself both physically and mentally.
We’ve all heard it ad nauseum: exercising every day is key to lifelong vitality. However, despite the fitness revolution we’ve experienced in recent years, exercise does not have to mean grinding in the gym for several hours a day. Experts say all you need is about 30 minutes of exercise each day. This can be a walk around your neighborhood, a light jog, yard work, whatever you want. The main thing is that you’re moving around. Exercising is not only important for maintaining a healthy weight. It also helps strengthen your cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure, and makes your heart stronger – three of the main things that keep you healthy. While you do not need to work out in a gym, you certainly can. If that’s not your thing, check out some ideas on how to work out at home (no equipment necessary).
Always include stretching in your daily routine, even if you decide not to work out. Whether you’re dealing with lower back or knee pain, tight hips, or are experiencing other joint pain, finding a stretching routine is the quickest, cheapest, and easiest way to help yourself. This practice can easily be done during commercial breaks when you’re watching the game or the newest season of your favorite show. This should only take about 15 minutes.
Water makes up most of our body and blood, which is why staying hydrated is key to feeling and performing your best. When you’re hydrated, your blood is better oxygenated, giving you more energy. Drinking water also helps you metabolize your food more efficiently, ultimately keeping your digestive system regular. It can even help with weight loss! The recommended daily water intake is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) a day for men, which is about twelve 8 oz. glasses of water. For more information on all the benefits of drinking water, check out this blog.
Take pride in your manscaping
Grooming looks different for everybody. If you’re new to manscaping, or just need a refresher, here are a couple helpful tips:
Invest in quality trimmers
If your hair grows in thick or you tend to let your hair grow for a while before shaving, having quality trimmers is key to getting a close shave. When your hair is too long, it can be difficult to shave with a traditional razor, as the razor only takes away hair close to the skin. Trimmers are also a great way to maintain your beard length without having to go “baby-faced” after every grooming session. Spending a little extra cash on your trimmer will save you in the long run, as more expensive trimmers can get closer to the skin, have longer-lasting batteries, are more durable, and often come with multiple clipper attachments so you can customize the length of your trim!
Invest in a tried-and-true shaving cream
When you apply a foam shaving cream before shaving, it can be difficult to see exactly where you’re shaving, making it more likely for you to cut yourself. Try a shaving cream that starts working the moment you apply it to your skin. Conditioning Shave Cream softens hair for maximum glide and protects you from nicks and cuts. Just apply and let it soak in before shaving and rinsing. You’ll be left with a smoother, closer shave.
Keep your beard soft (for you and others)
This is an important one, as it has several benefits for men with beards. There are three main products you should use for your beard every day: beard wash, beard conditioner, and beard oil. Beard wash cleans your beard, just like shampoo does for your hair. Especially if you deal with dry skin under your beard, this can be helpful for making things less itchy. Beard conditioner will make your beard soft to the touch by hydrating the follicles, much like conditioner for your hair. Beard oil also helps hydrate and keep your beard soft, but with a great smell! Many beard oils smell great, which keeps you smelling fresh all day.
While keeping your beard soft can certainly have positive interpersonal effects, like not scratching your partner when you kiss them, there are benefits for you as well. Having soft, pliable beard hair will make for a smoother, more even shave because the hairs are not wiry and coarse.
Develop a skin care routine
This one is probably the hardest habit to form if you don’t already have a skin care routine. It does not need to be complicated. The two most important things to remember is that your skin needs to be clean and hydrated. We only really need two steps.
Step 1: Clean your skin
To clean your skin, choose a facial cleanser that works best for you. Some products may not be suitable for you if you have overly dry or sensitive skin. Take some time to play around and find what is most effective on your skin. To make things easier, we have created this quiz that will pair you with the perfect routine from our Uncovered Skin Care line.
Step 2: Moisturize your skin
As many facial cleansers include some sort of alcohol ingredient, it’s important to moisturize after you’ve cleaned your skin. This will help your skin look tight, stay firm, fight wrinkles, and can help combat acne. You can try different moisturizers to find the one that’s right for you.
Journal every day
One of the best habits to develop is journaling each day. This is an easy task to cross off your list because it only takes 5-10 minutes (it can take longer if you want). Journaling should take whatever shape you find most effective. It will help you articulate hard-to-say things, make you a better writer, and help you develop a daily routine. If you are new to journaling, here are a few helpful ideas:
Don’t stop writing until the timer runs out
This is a great technique for teaching yourself to be a more efficient/effective writer. Many times, people approach the page with a lot of fear because they “don’t know what to write” or are afraid it’s going to come out poorly. This practice lifts all the restrictions and focuses on letting words flow directly from brain to page. Set your timer somewhere between 5 -10 minutes, and do not stop writing. It doesn’t matter what you write. You can write “I don’t know what to write” for three minutes straight until you get an idea. Or you could immediately start penning the greatest autobiography to grace humankind, totally up to you.
Write what you’re grateful for
Showing gratitude can become difficult when our lives get consumed with the daily grind of work, home life, or children. Carving out a space to reaffirm gratitude each day helps provide much-needed perspective. Take this time to think deeply about the people and things that positively impact your life. Write these down, so that you are equipped with fully articulated ways to express your gratitude.
Set your intentions
This practice is best before starting your day. Whether you have a daily itinerary or not, setting your intentions for the day is a great way to set yourself up for a productive day, as you will have tactile and achievable goals to meet. Our small daily accomplishments often go unacknowledged as we are constantly looking forward to the next thing on our checklist. However, setting measurable and achievable goals each day gives you a tangible idea of the small victories you accomplish every day. These intentions can even be personal goals like “express love for my partner,” or “do something for me today.”
Meditating is a surprisingly effective way to ground or learn about your yourself, take stock of the things in your life, or simply clear your mind for a while. There are many different meditation practices, all with their own methods and goals, but the overarching idea is establishing inner stillness, peace, and connection to the things around you. You only need 5-10 minutes of meditation each day, and we have a helpful blog that teaches you about some of the most popular practices and how to do them. Plus, there are many guided meditations on YouTube, Insight Timer, or even in VR via TRIPP!
This is also a great place to add a daily affirmation. You know the whole “if you smile long enough, your brain thinks you’re happy and it makes you feel better” thing? The same thing applies to words. Affirmations are a way of speaking positive energy into the universe about yourself. Speaking into existence the things you want to feel about yourself can change your mindset. If you’re feeling insecure, try affirmations like “I am confident. I am capable. I am driven.”
Create a sleep routine
Sleep is the most overlooked, though most important, mental self-care practice to develop. In our fast-paced, work-centered culture, sleep is not highly valued. You’ve probably heard the sayings: “I’m working while you’re sleeping” or “early bird catches the worm.” However, sleep is integral to our mental health. Getting quality sleep helps us sort and retain all the information we’ve been exposed to each day (think about how much information you take in from your smart phone alone!). It also helps balance our neurochemicals, recharge our bodies, and can help us solve problems we’ve left on the backburner (thanks, subconscious). Getting quality sleep each night starts with creating a routine and sticking to it. Here are some tips:
Have a bedtime, and don’t use your bed for anything but sleeping
The first suggestion is likely more feasible than the second, but they go hand in hand. Having a steady bedtime allows you to know what time to start your routine each day. It will also get your body on a steady schedule, so it knows when to start producing sleep-inducing hormones, like melatonin. This will help stabilize your circadian rhythm, which works best when in lockstep with the sun. Rising and setting with the sun is ideal, but having a steady routine is the most important thing. As for using your bed solely for sleeping, this is another way to signal to your body that it is bedtime. If your body and mind’s only relationship to your bed is one associated with sleep, getting into bed signals to your body that it’s time to sleep.
Invest in amber or blue light glasses
Blocking blue light not only saves your eyes from the harm of screens, the blue light from screens blocks melatonin production, meaning your TikTok doomscrolling right before bed is keeping you awake. Amber glasses or blue light glasses filter out the blue light, so you can still watch TV or catch up on the latest TikTok trends before bed without halting your melatonin production. Ideally, you would be without screens for about an hour before bed, but we understand that pre-bed TV is a standard way to decompress. This is a great way to keep your sleep routine on track without losing your relaxation habits.
We know it probably goes without saying that masturbating is an important part of your sexual health, but we’re saying it anyway. Masturbating regularly is good for you!
Masturbating can help you understand your body and what feels good for you. This will help you communicate more effectively with your partner in the bedroom. Masturbating is also a great way to get comfortable with sexual acts without any performance anxiety. Having orgasms regularly can help with your mental health by easing stress. When you masturbate, and especially when you orgasm, your brain releases mood-boosting chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which make you feel good and can help alleviate tension. Having regular orgasms can also help prevent prostate issues.
There are plenty of ways to care for yourself, but this is a good list to get you started. If you’re new to self-care, try out some of these ideas and see what works for you. For even more resources around self-care, check out our Pure 21 blogs. You’ll find recipes for healthy meals, ideas for meditation and yoga practices, and exercise guides.