Men can feel an expectation to be the stoic supporter of their family or to take on a tough-it-out attitude towards life’s stressors. The pursuit of these goals often pushes personal wellbeing down the to-do list. That might not feel harmful, but ultimately, you won’t be performing up to par in any aspect of life.
That’s where the concept of self-care stems from. In some cases, the idea is considered (and marketed as) a feminine activity or has been reduced to its most superficial elements like skincare. But self-care not only makes you more effective, it builds resilience and offers a buffer from the bumps in the road when you inevitably reach them. It turns a house of cards into a structure that can withstand life events like a relationship breakdown, a job loss or the death of a loved one.
What self-care involves has never been more important for men to understand and put into action.
What is self-care?
Self-care varies from person to person, but it’s deliberate and self-initiated for maintaining physical, emotional, spiritual, professional, social, financial and psychological wellbeing. It can be anything from daily habits that top up your cup, to healthier responses to stressful situations.
“Some of the things that self-care involves, it’s not necessarily fun stuff — eating well, getting some regular physical activity in,” Psychologist Narelle Dickinson says. “But if we can focus on the big picture and what basic self-care is going to allow us to do with the rest of our life, then maybe there’s a little bit more motivation.”
However, self-care can also include the stuff that does make you feel good — whether that’s keeping your grooming in check or enjoying a round of golf. It’s about seeing time for yourself as a necessity, not a luxury.
“When life gets really busy and the focus is on earning an income or doing the jobs that have to be done, prioritising yourself can get put on the back burner,” Dickinson says.
“It’s about changing the mindset towards those actions to make it a non-negotiable in a way.”
How you can practice self-care
Examine your current habits. What do you do to take care of yourself? What are your coping strategies when things get rough? What do you value and enjoy doing regularly? Rather than attempting to overhaul all your habits at once, start with one or two small activities and build up gradually. Think about self-care in advance and actively plan these strategies rather than expecting them to just happen.
This Black Dog Institute planner can help you find the best self-care ideas for you.