Men need self-care too

What's wrong with loving yourself?

April 12, 2019


David Anderson

UMass Freshman Patrick Lavey takes a moment to brush his hair. (David Anderson/Amherst Wire)

In the age of face masks and self-love, there is no doubting the importance of having a healthy self-care routine. But with typical self-care products such as facials, massages and manicures being marketed toward women, where does that leave men in the self-care world?

With awareness campaigns, the powerful influence of social media and a new light being shed on the importance of self-care, there seems to be a cultural shift where the stigma around men and self-care is beginning to break apart.

But what is self-care?

For many young men on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus, self-care means taking care of yourself in all aspects of life – mentally and physically.

Whether it’s going on a run to cope with stress or putting on a quick face mask, self-care for men is really no different than self-care for women.

“I feel like a lot of guys do more than maybe some people think about,” said Michael, a sophomore at UMass. “

But why have we not seen this before?

“Self-care is a feminized thing in our culture and most guys don’t want to talk about it. I am more discouraged in calling it self-care than doing what I do,” said Chris, also a sophomore at UMass.

Although we’re seeing more men break through the barrier, there’s still pressure to keep self-care and self-love silent.

What about self-care and mental health?

Going beyond the scope of face masks and bubble baths, mental health is a huge part of self-love and self-care. Stigmas surrounding mental health, especially in regards to men, has created an uncomfortable environment in which self-care routines and regimens are kept under the radar.

While eating healthy, sleeping enough and dedicating time to fitness are all obvious and popular parts of self-care, some men are incorporating more than just the standard techniques into their daily lives.

“I try and get my homework done during the day and stay on top of school work,” said Kevin, another sophomore at UMass. “Taking a break from anything that involves stress helps a lot.”

Techniques as simple as staying on top of school work, utilizing social media in a healthy way, or checking in on friends, have become popular approaches to strengthening mental health.

Establishing strong anti-stress methods is a sure way to avoid becoming overwhelmed and overworked.

Breaking through the stigma against self-care and expanding its horizons has created a platform for young men to actively speak about their self-care regimens and the importance of checking in on one another.

“I’ve definitely being encouraged by society to stay mentally healthy now” said Michael.  

It is important to foster an environment where men can feel comfortable sharing their personal struggles with mental health, and breaking through the gender stereotype and stigma surrounding self-care.

Loving yourself and your own body is an important aspect of life. Practicing a self-care routine will not only keep you healthy, both mentally and physically, but it will promote happiness and confidence. It’s easy to forget to take a second and reflect on how you are doing. Speaking out and creating a safe space for people to express their emotions freely will only connect us further.

It’s okay not to be okay. Make sure to take time and breathe, call a friend or a family member and check in on them. Be kind to others and more importantly, be kind to yourself.

Email Melanie at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @melanie_grados

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