Better Manhood Skills: Self-care

My series about creating a roadmap for better manhood continues with another important soft skill: self-care. While not exclusive to men, the need for self-care is critical because we can’t help others unless we also take care of ourselves.

Let’s begin by understanding the aspects of self-care and its benefits. 

What is Self-care? 

It’s important to note that self-care is a highly individualized concept: what works for one person may not work for another. Everyone should explore the various self-care strategies to find what best suits their needs and lifestyles.  

Self-care includes our mental health, physical maintenance, and emotional expression. Self-care also includes caring for our relationships, financial well-being, spiritual life, and personal growth. I covered some of these topics earlier in this series in a post that encourages young males to learn to First, Manage Yourself Well. This is the first step toward becoming a mature and well-balanced man. 

There are numerous benefits of good self-care practices which can have a positive impact on many aspects of a man’s life. One benefit is higher self-esteem and confidence. Another is that it helps prevent burnout as we juggle the multiple responsibilities of work, family, and personal commitments. It also helps improve productivity and enables a healthy work-life balance. 

Categories of Self-Care

Let’s explore each of these categories a bit deeper. 

  • Mental Health: Men, like women, can experience stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. Engaging in self-care practices, such as mindfulness, therapy, or stress-reduction techniques, can help manage these issues and promote emotional well-being. In a previous post, I suggested you Join Me for Men’s Mental Health Month, which is every November. I also wrote 
  • Physical Health: Self-care includes maintaining physical health through regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep. These practices are crucial for men to prevent and manage chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It also gives an outlet that helps with our Behavior Management.
  • Emotional Expression: Traditional gender norms can sometimes discourage men from expressing their emotions openly. Self-care can provide a safe space for men to explore and process their feelings. It also reduces the risk of emotional suppression or bottling up emotions. Read more about the “hidden disease” for men: Anxiety, which has increased dramatically since the pandemic. An earlier post in this series is about the challenges for men in Controlling Your Emotions.
  • Relationships: Healthy self-care practices can improve relationships by reducing stress and promoting better communication and emotional connection with partners, friends, and family. More to come on this topic in the next post. 
  • Financial well-being: Caring for your financial well-being means taking deliberate and responsible actions to manage, improve, and secure your financial situation. As I wrote in my post about Money Management, becoming an adult male means learning to budget, tracking your income and expenses, saving money, investing wisely, and avoiding debt. Stability comes from emergency planning for unexpected financial setbacks, good retirement and estate planning, and having appropriate health, life, disability, and property insurance. 
  • Spiritual life: While this is a highly personal and individualized concept, your spirituality and belief system require self-reflection and nurturing your inner self. This involves exploring your values, finding a sense of purpose, and seeking a deeper connection with something greater than yourself. Well-being and confidence come through prayer & meditation, practicing spiritual disciplines, understanding the power of love and forgiveness, and expressing gratitude. 
  • Continual Growth: This involves becoming well-balanced in all areas of your life. You live according to your values and principles. You align your actions with what you believe to be right and just. You find meaning and purpose and embrace personal development as a lifelong journey. You explore new ideas, challenge your beliefs, and remain open to evolving spiritually. 

Each of these self-care practices can help men feel better about themselves and their abilities. In turn, they also help them care for others. 

The Question All Men Have

Best-selling author, John Eldridge writes in his book, Wild at Heart that there is one question that haunts every man: “Am I good enough?” Deep down, we all have this doubt.

Here are some of the factors that contribute to this question: 

  • Societal Expectations: Traditional gender roles and societal expectations often portray men as stoic, self-reliant, and focused on providing for their families. These expectations can discourage men from seeking help, expressing vulnerability, or prioritizing self-care, as it may be seen as a sign of weakness.
  • Cultural Factors: Cultural backgrounds and upbringing also influence attitudes toward self-care. In some cultures, there may be strong pressure to prioritize the needs of the family or community over personal well-being.
  • Stigma Around Mental Health: Sadly, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health issues in many societies. Men may be hesitant to seek therapy or openly discuss their mental health challenges due to fears of being perceived as “unmanly” or “weak.” Some even associate self-care with self-indulgence or selfishness, rather than recognizing it as a vital aspect of overall health and well-being.
  • Fear of Judgment: Men may fear judgment or ridicule from peers or society if they openly engage in self-care practices. This is considered unconventional or non-traditional.
  • Reluctance to Ask for Help: Men may hesitate to seek help or support from friends, family, or professionals, even when it is necessary. My feeling is more men need GodBuddies!
  • Time Constraints: Many men have busy schedules that involve work, family responsibilities, and other commitments. Finding time for self-care is challenging, leading to neglect of personal well-being.
  • Lack of Awareness: Some men may not fully understand the importance of self-care or may not be aware of self-care strategies that work for them.
  • Coping Mechanisms: Men may have developed unhealthy habits to cope such as avoidance and isolation Many have substance or alcohol abuse or mask their pain with pornography rather than dealing properly with stress and emotions.
  • Perceived Lack of Resources: Some men may feel they lack the resources or knowledge to engage in self-care effectively. This includes access to therapy or having the financial means for certain self-care activities.

It’s essential to address these challenges by promoting a better approach to self-care for men. We can encourage open conversations about mental health and provide better resources and education about its importance. We can also challenge outdated stereotypes and encourage healthier masculine behaviors among our peers and future generations of young males. But men must first learn how to care for themselves in order to properly care for others. 

Small GB logo

GodBuddy Focus 

Patrick Morley, renowned men’s ministry leader and author of the book, The Four Voices: Take Control of the Conversation in Your Head writes about several influences on a man’s internal conversation in his head: 

  1. The Voice of the World
  2. The Voice of the Flesh
  3. The Voice of the Devil
  4. The Voice of the Holy Spirit

I believe that understanding the effects of these influences can help men answer the question: “Am I good enough?”. They also help him develop a better understanding of the need to care for their spiritual life. 

So I conclude by reminding you of an earlier post titled Understanding Who and Whose You Are. It states that you ARE good enough in God’s eyes because you were created perfectly in His Image and for a purpose. I also suggest that once a man surrenders his life to a higher power, he begins to understand the importance of self-care and the care of others. This is another mark of a mature and godly man. 

For discussion:

  • What areas of self-care listed above are most important for men?
  • What societal expectations and cultural norms about the care of men have influenced you the most? 
  • Which areas of self-care are most important for you?
  • Are there any areas you need to improve? 

[Feature Image by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash]

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