Self-care shows up in medical literature references as early as the 1900s. It is based on the understanding that a healthy body, mind, and spirit are necessary for well-being. Think of self-care for men as an owner’s manual for yourself.
We should not be more connected to others than we are to ourselves. If you are going through life just winging it, you are living without the self-awareness of what you need and what drives you to be and give your best. Self-care is the habit you use to prepare yourself mentally and physically to be in your peak and best condition.
Professional athletes have pre-game or pre-race routines. Before they get on the field or into the starting blocks, they prepare themselves to give their best performance. Michael Phelps always approached his meets with intention. Before a race, he would get into the right frame of mind with music that inspired him, a warm-up, stretching, and always ascended the blocks from the same left side. Performing a ritual, 100% in his control was key to centering himself to start from his best and strongest place, no matter the stakes and pressure swirling around him.
Even if we aren’t Olympians, we all want to be the MVP of our lives and for the people, we care about and whom depend on us. That is why men need self-care. When we put our self-care on the back burner and hyperfocus on everyone and everything else, we fail to notice when our performance starts to slip and we start taking shortcuts or making decisions from a desperate place because our logic, patience, energy, or emotions are not at their best.
When you are taking care of yourself too, you have the energy to keep moving forward in the best way. You are more compassionate, your ideas are better, and you’re faster and more accurate. Self-care is not a luxury. It is a necessity. If you want to be the best version of yourself, you need to be taking care of your mind, body, and spirit.
Your physical health is usually the first sign of poor self-care. You’ll notice the weight gain and fatigue when you aren’t taking care of yourself. When this goes on for an extended period of time there can be dire health consequences. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, representing 1 in every 4 deaths.
Cortisol is a hormone that your body produces in reaction to stress. Cortisol from persistent stress can increase blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure. All leading to premature mortality. Several studies have also linked cortisol to reduced fertility and testosterone levels. Cortisol causes cellular damage, which you may not immediately see until it has done significant and sometimes irreversible damage. This is why taking care of yourself to reduce your stress is so vital.
If you ignore physical self-care, you are shaving years off of your life.
- Flexibility training
- Balance training
- Strength training
- Cardio Training
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Your financial health is not about money, it is having the ability to obtain the things you need for your well-being. You may not need a mansion. But you need a home that is warm and comfortable on the inside. Financial self-care is taking care of yourself financially to live a comfortable life from today and well into retirement.
There are more and more stories about parents these days that sacrificed their financial well-being by taking personal loans to put kids through college. Now, these loans have become a burden of thousands of dollars a month that the parents can’t afford to pay as they enter retirement. In hindsight, the parents wish they would have explored other options for college and funding their children’s higher education. Financial self-care is when you factor yourself and your needs into every financial decision. It’s better to plan now for a financial lifestyle that doesn’t require you to live beyond your means than to have to severely cut back in your golden years.
If you ignore financial self-care, you are setting yourself up for a less-than-luxurious and penny-pinching retirement.
- Make a budget
- Save for unexpected emergencies with an emergency fund equal to 1 -6 months of your monthly expenses
- Contribute to your retirement account
Your career is how you use your strengths and interests to further your professional success. Self-care in your career is all about finding the workplace and profession that fulfills you. One of the most universal human experiences is to have had a job you hated.
Maybe it was the work, the manager, or a coworker that made the situation awful. Career self-care is finding ways to take care of yourself and not stay stuck for years in a situation where you are underpaid, undervalued, or underemployed. You can develop ways to deal with a difficult boss or co-worker, negotiate better pay or terms, transfer departments, get a new job at a different company, or change careers. Check out our Dealing with Difficult People series for tips.
Career self-care is recognizing the toxic and unfulfilling elements of the situation and taking steps to make it better and not let it wear you down. Taking the time to explore what you want and what you can do are the core of career self-care. Maybe it’s time to take the leap of working for yourself or advancing your knowledge in the career you already have with more training or education or negotiating a raise to the level you deserve.
If you ignore your career self-care, you are setting yourself up to be in the same unfulfilling job next year and the year after that.
- Do your research on the possibilities
- Grow your professional network
- Stay current and grow your skills
Community self-care is being at comfort and ease in the place you call home and within the social, friendship, family, and faith circles you consider yourself a member of. Too often we get comfortable with our discomfort. It can be as small as the blankets you sleep under being too hot and keeping you up at night as you toss them off and then pull them back on again when you get cold. Or as big as a long-running conflict between you and your parent that you keep sweeping under the rug.
If you ignore your community self-care, you will be without a safe space for yourself to be who you are and connected to others.
- Your home
- Your immediate family
- Your close friends
- Religious, Social, or Civic organizations you are active in
Self-Care is maintaining and nurturing your humanity, all the things that uniquely make you. Let’s be careful not to confuse this with your passions. Your core self stays the same no matter your career or financial situation.
You may have been passionate about something in middle school that you no longer care about. Care of the self or the “id” is nurturing your foundational desires, wants, and needs. It is your purpose. Ask yourself, how do you want to influence the world? Do you yearn to connect people, solve problems, or nurture things?
Every person is unique. Two people may have the same high-level purpose. But need widely different paths to get there. If your personality is extroverted and you enjoy the great outdoors. A group hike with great friends will recharge you. If you are an introvert that loves a good book. Then a few hours by yourself in a quiet corner to read reinvigorates you.
Making time for self-care, no matter how busy you are, should be a priority. It’s important that you take time away from the pressures of life to practice self-care. Check out our Recharge Your Body and Mind series for great ideas you can start using today.
- Take a break from the computer and go outside for a walk
- Take a strength or core training class at home
- Go to the gym
- Take a long hot bath or shower
- Read a book or listen to music or a podcast
- Bullet Journal
- Treat yourself to a haircut or old-school barber’s shave
- Watch your favorite show or team on television
- Play a game with your friends, kids or grandkids
- Enjoy a cocktail or mocktail
Collectively, our culture likes to move fast and be on the go rather than sit still and think about what we want for ourselves. Being introspective keeps us from getting burned out, over-stressed, or disappointed. Self-care is a way to slow down. It helps us think about what we want and how to get it, rather than just doing whatever seems to be most pressing at the moment. As a result, those you know, work with and care for get to experience the best version of you.
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