Let’s face it. Every day, we’re under a tremendous amount of pressure to provide for our families, manage our relentless work responsibilities, maintain our health and fitness, and never show any sign of weakness.
That’s an incredible amount of stress to deal with. To make matters worse, men often neglect their own self-care during times when they need it the most.
While we can’t always change society’s expectations of us, we can cope with the pressure by taking better care of our bodies and minds.
Here are seven ways you can practice self-care on a regular basis.
Feeling stressed or sad lately? You might want to take a closer look at your diet.
Scientists have known for years that our digestive system and our brains are intimately connected. Our guts are lined with over 100 million neurons which send signals to our brain.
Certain foods can disrupt the lines of communication between our gut and our brain (aka the gut-brain axis). As a result, our mental health is negatively impacted and we’re more likely to feel anxious or depressed.
Eating healthy foods that are free of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars will do your gut and your mind a ton of good. Focus on lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and organic grains. To make your gut extra happy, consider drinking a cup of tea with probiotics every day.
Regular exercise can lower your risk of chronic disease and improve our longevity. However, it can also benefit our mental health as well.
Even short bursts of activity can improve your mental focus and productivity. According to a recent study, researchers found that mild physical exercise increased the size of the hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for memory function and faster learning.
Getting regular exercise also boosts your overall happiness. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that 10 minutes of physical activity per week increased levels of happiness in participants.
To maximize your benefits, aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, the CDC’s recommended amount of physical activity for adults.
Get Some Sleep
Sleep is essential to being your best self every day, so it’s important to do what you can to catch some quality slumber each night. Unfortunately, many men are guilty of poor sleep habits which can negatively impact your mental health. Sleep deprivation has been linked to mood disorders such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. If you want to sleep better at night, here are a few tips:
- Reduce caffeine intake
- Reduce blue light exposure (mostly from electronic devices)
- Maintain a comfortable room temperature
- Go to bed at a consistent time every night
When you sleep well, you wake up feeling refreshed and have more energy throughout the day. If you regularly have trouble sleeping or feel tired when you wake up, consult your physician to check for sleep apnea or other sleep-related conditions.
Schedule Regular Health Checkups
Regular health exams are important to help identify risk factors and problems before they become serious. If diseases are caught early, treatments are usually much more effective. Ultimately, regular doctor’s visits will help you live a long and healthy life. In addition to scheduling your annual exam with your primary physician, you should schedule appointments with your dentist every six months, and with your optometrist once a year.
Don’t forget about your mental health. If you are experiencing signs of depression and/or anxiety, schedule a session with a mental health professional immediately.
Take a Vacation
According to a 2018 GfK survey of 4,349 American workers, age 18+, who work more than 35 hours a week and receive paid time off from their employer, 52% of employees did not take all of the vacation time allotted to them. As a consequence, we are suffering from being overworked, overwhelmed, and overstressed. Taking time off from work is good for your mental and physical health. Just a few days away can help you to be more productive, creative, and effective. If you’ve been putting off your vacation, think again. When you’re more productive, you’re happier, and when you’re happier, you excel at what you do.
Maintain a Spiritual Practice
Whether you meditate, attended regular church services, or commune with nature on a regular basis, you can improve your mood my maintaining a regular spiritual practice. It is not so much about the form but about the quality of the time spent within it. Your spiritual practice is something you do every day that draws you deeper into who you really are by connecting you with your divine self. If done regularly, it can reduce anxiety, create a sense of steadiness and grounding, provides clarity, and keep you afloat and even-keeled in even the most riotous emotional storms.
Take Care of Your Skin
Treating your skin with kindness is important–not only because it can help reduce your risk of skin cancer, but also because it has a huge bearing on your self-esteem.
Waking up with bags under your eyes, dull skin or a face full of acne can make even the most confident of men feel down about their appearance. Acne sufferers are especially susceptible to feeling impacted by the negative social stigma surrounding acne.
If you suffer from these skincare problems, there is good news—many of them can be easily fixed with a simple skincare system for men. Washing with a facial cleanser followed by a men’s moisturizer can do a lot of good for your skin, as well as your mental well-being.
Do Something You Enjoy
Don’t feel guilty about taking time to do things you enjoy. Binge-watch your favorite TV series, go out for drinks with your friends, spend the evening playing with your kids, take a painting class, have dinner at your favorite restaurant, read a book, volunteer at a homeless shelter. Enjoying your favorite things will boost your mood and create positive, long-lasting memories.
Self-Care is Selfless
Self-care isn’t selfish or vain—in fact, the opposite is true. By taking better care of yourself physically and mentally, you can live a happier, more productive life. Doing so will benefit not only you but also those around you.