Men and self-care are often not seen together. Neither in any media nor our real lives. Masculinity is considered as an antonym to self-care and self-care is what females do. Attributing genders to ‘self-care’ has once again played a major role in building stereotypes around men and self-care. Pick up your local newspaper and have a look at the beauty or self-care commercials, and unsurprisingly none of them is for men. Watch advertisements on televisions and the internet only to find men-oriented commercials nowhere.
You might want to go to your nearest spa or a beauty salon, but how many of them are for men? A handful, maybe. This is the sad reality of how society views masculinity with not taking care of oneself and femininity with taking excessive pride in self-care and beauty routines.
What is self-care?
In simplest terms, self-care is just taking care of oneself to improve one’s health. Self- care is a broad term that encompasses every positive attribute that helps benefit and improve yourself. Self- care isn’t just about external beauty, it is about improving and working towards the betterment of your lifestyle and day-to-day activities.
Self-care is often wrongly attributed to narcissism, beauty products, and living a rich lifestyle. But this is entirely wrong because self-care is of many kinds: spiritual, emotional, sensory, physical, social, and many. This establishes a sound mental-health, prevents illness and disease, and brings a positive impact on your life, and boosts your mental, emotional, and physical growth.
Self-care is not selfish, it is beneficial and crucial for all of us. It means taking care of your mind and body to live a healthy lifestyle and have good mental health.
Why is male self-care problematic?
Generalizations and stereotypes jump into action when any normal action is considered problematic. Male self-care is never seen or heard anywhere. It is not even considered because according to the social norms it challenges the notions of masculinity. No single man adheres to the traditional masculine notions because of their falsity and unrealistic nature. Being an offshoot of patriarchy, masculinity has exploited men more than it has made them. These social constructs of masculinity play a key role in their mental health, physical fitness, and wellness, and they have restricted their ability to seek help and improve health in every way.
Masculinity is not an identity, it is a social role that men are expected to perform and mistake it for their identity. Masculinity has taught men to act aggressive, remain unkempt, be tough (even when you wish to seek help), suppress emotions apart from anger, etc. Similarly, masculinity has taught men to avoid and disparage anything that is considered ‘feminine’ by society. Here comes the reason why male self-care is deemed problematic and effeminate.
Some tips to self-care for men
Self-care ideas look different to everyone. Some find comfort and content in one activity, while others may find it to be boring and not uplifting them at all. Let us jump on to some of the self-care tips for men lest they feel down or unproductive. Moreover, these little activities that we do for self-care affect our lives positively to a great extent. It becomes crucial to include and do them in our everyday lives for better physical, mental health, and better optimization of time and resources.
Seek help and comfort: When you feel like the work pressure is increasing and find yourself cooped up in your office every day, it becomes extremely important to reach out to a spa, parlours or any outdoor games. Refreshing yourself is not a waste of your time but it builds up your body to work efficiently. Get a massage, a hot bubble bath, play your favorite outdoor sport, hit a gym, etc.
If you think that your work or any activity has overwhelmed you and is tiring you mentally, reach out to a therapist unhesitatingly.
Look good: Trey on new beauty products in the market, or put on some makeup and see how it suits you. Grow a beard or shave it, or try a different hairstyle. Make a routine to visit a salon to cleanse your skin weekly or monthly. Try on new clothes, buy a different style than usual. Wear different colors to your office or dates.
Meet up: Make a day to meet your friends, and watch a movie together, try new food, visit a museum or just stroll around the city or call them at your place and make dinner together. Try cooking together at home and relish on home-made food.
Eat healthily: Make a diet chart, eat more vegetables (you can set a weekly number too)’ drink eight glasses of water every day, cut down alcohol, take a walk at night, wake up early, do more stretching, take multivitamins, etc.
Why is male self-care important?
Self-care for men is as important and holds the same weightage as self-care for women. It should be normalized as going to the doctor to seek help if you catch a disease. It is important for men because of the lack of facilities they get when it comes to them. There are numerous self-care programs to guide them, therapists to seek help from, and healthcare products to buy for women, but when it comes to men, it comes down to a few numbers.
Self-care for men must be paid attention to for the upliftment and betterment of their lives and health. It has been neglected and even downplayed by society, but the sooner we put an end to it, the better. Men deserve to feel good and free from all the societal pressure, they deserve to be heard and must take care of themselves without having to answer to anyone.
Can self-care and masculinity go together?
Self-care is a part of you despite what sexuality or gender-identity you have. Self-care is neither feminine nor masculine. Even if we want to normalise self-care for men, we must not validate under the notions of masculinity. Masculinity is a social construct and expects men to behave stereotypically.
Putting self-care under masculinity will be easier for men but at the time exempt other sexualities and genders from self-care. It creates a reverse effect wherein it becomes easier for men, at the same time creating a problem for men that don’t make self-care their priority.
Self-care is a way of life, it is how you take care of and pamper yourself. It has nothing to do with femininity or masculinity. Self-care is essential and it is for all.