by Andy Greene
Self-care is an important skill that anyone can learn, but many struggle with. This holds especially true for men, due to a number of societal and emotional factors, including toxic masculinity. A surprising amount of people, including men, believe that self-care is strictly only something that women do, and that men don’t need it or that they just need to “toughen up.” There are also many people who believe that mental illness is something a man can simply shake off. Many men even believe that they aren’t even diagnosable at all, and they think that their feelings are invalid or just an advanced form of stress. Men often isolate themselves because of this. 
Of course, abundant studies and research prove that men need just as much help and assistance as anybody else. For example, did you know that an estimated 9% of men in the US experience daily feelings of depression and anxiety?  And the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has found that men die by suicide at rates 3.5 times higher than women. 
Recent research found that men in the US “still feel pushed to live in ‘The Man Box’ – a rigid construct of cultural ideas about male identity [that] includes being self-sufficient, acting tough, looking physically attractive, sticking to rigid gender roles, being heterosexual, having sexual prowess, and using aggression to resolve conflicts.”  Researchers found that men who lived inside “The Man Box” have more mental health problems, higher rates of depression and suicidal ideation.  It’s important to note here that these societal pressures aren’t limited to cis-gendered men, but can affect any one who identifies as a man.
Whether or not a person struggles with a condition, everyone should still recognize the value of self-care. It’s fundamental to everyone – women, men and everyone in between or outside of that spectrum. It is vital for men to learn self-care, and to break those perceived boundaries. They shouldn’t let others get on their case for it, either! You’re not “weak” or “lesser” for practicing self-care. In fact, if men practice self-care, they stand to reduce stress, sleep well, and better themselves and the world around them. Men need and they rightfully deserve self-care.
So, how can men practice self-care?
Some of the things that men can do to practice self-care are physical changes that they can start right away. For example, performing proper and healthy amounts of exercise is proven to affect both the body and the brain in numerous positive ways. There are many fun and exciting ways to exercise, too – you wouldn’t necessarily need to frequent the gym. Try fun activities like yoga, swimming, climbing, racquetball, pickleball, dancing—the list goes on! This also leads into diet – not necessarily dieting, but being mindful of what you eat and making healthy choices goes a long way to your overall health, which is why it is one of the most important aspects of self-care.
Many of the longer-term changes will come from a change in your state of mind and working toward improving your mental health. Thankfully, this can be achieved in a number of ways, and it could be a slow process, meaning one wouldn’t need to necessarily go all-out day one.
One easy way to start taking care of your mental well-being is to simply take some time for yourself. Many men find that they get overloaded by taking on too many activities or social gatherings at once, and will likely find that spending some quality time alone will help them to clear up their mind. You may find it useful to journal, meditate, read, hike in nature or simply relax and reflect during time to yourself. Men can also practice self-care by practicing their favorite hobbies, whether those be independent or in a group setting. Celebrities like the rapper Snoop Dogg have been vocal advocates of men also using self-care strategies traditionally only utilized by women, such as receiving manicures. Musician Frank Ocean similarly has talked about how skincare routines aren’t only for women and how taking good care of his skin makes him feel better and more confident. 
In any case, men are all unique, and some may practice self-care in different ways. However they practice it, so long as they’re using healthy techniques, they should come to find that their quality of life improves! So get out there, practice self-care, and don’t let anybody stop you!