In the midst of a second lockdown, discussions around the most effective ways to maintain wellbeing remain vital. Why should we shine a spotlight on men in particular? Today is International Men’s Day, which is more than just a celebration of men, it provides an opportunity to pay attention to how we tackle the issues affecting men’s wellbeing, whether that is yourself, or those around you.
Why is self-care important?
According to the crisis prevention charity Samaritans, men in the UK are three times more likely to take their own lives than women. This data alone demonstrates how men can also play victim to societal expectations about how they should look or act. Tackling such a massive issue can seem overwhelming, but progress can start with the individual taking more steps to check in with themselves on a regular basis – this is where self-care comes in. Despite the term having connotations of bubble baths and glasses of champagne, or even being something that is selfish to indulge in, self-care goes a lot deeper than this: it is an intentional action in protecting your own health, wellbeing and happiness.
With this in mind, the experts at Wilkinson Sword have highlighted eight ways you can engage in self-care moments that are easy to introduce into your existing routine.
Simply dedicating five to 10 minutes a day to meditation can have the power to balance your mind and reduce anxiety – even someone as busy as Bill Gates swears by it. Whether you meditate from your desk chair, sit cross-legged on your bed or place yourself next to a window, what is important is that you are simply taking time for yourself and no one else. You most likely won’t have a moment of enlightenment during your first attempt at meditation – however, with regular practice this small daily habit can begin to have a profound impact. Apps like Headspace and Calm provide free guided meditations for beginners that help you learn the essentials of meditation and allow you to keep track of your progress.
2. Give more time to grooming
With the harsh winter air often taking its toll on our skin, pimping out your grooming routine with quality moisturisers and beard shampoo can help lock moisture into your skin and hair, keeping it soft and resilient. As well as giving you a boost of confidence, the act of grooming itself releases endorphins – such a simple decision to look after yourself combined with the act of touching your face aligns scientifically with positively influencing mood. Ensuring you don’t rush your routine by looking after your skin pre and post-shave can enhance the benefits of grooming for your body and mind. Additionally, using products with scents that have stress-relieving qualities such as lavender, eucalyptus or that contain vitamins can make therapeutic acts like grooming and skincare even more relaxing and enriching. Intentionally deciding to perform an act of kindness for yourself is what self-care is all about.
3. Express yourself
Expressing yourself encompasses a lot more than just speaking. Not everybody is comfortable with expressing themselves verbally and it’s not always easy to understand our deep-rooted feelings and put them into words. There are a variety of ways you can release some of the burdens you may be carrying in order to feel lighter and freer. This could be through drawing, writing a journal, singing, painting, or even dancing – allocating time to reflect on how you are feeling and letting these feelings out is a brilliant example of self-care. These activities should be a bit of fun too.
4. Explore the outdoors
Actively deciding to leave your house or office to embrace the fresh air and explore a change of environment is more impactful than you may think. It’s a great way to open your mind to new sights and sounds, in turn allowing you to break out of any restrictive mindsets that may have been creeping in. This doesn’t have to be going on an adventure through a big forest or climbing a mountain – even a brisk walk around the block can be enough to refresh your mind and refocus your goals.
5. Connect with a loved one
Particularly when most people are spending a lot more time at home, many will be finding it trickier to interact with those closest to them if they can’t physically see them. So, identify some people who are in your A-team: they have your back, make you happy and you trust them. Having a video call conversation with these close friends or family members can reduce stress, and remind you that you have a support network around you. Acts of self-care can improve your relationships with others as well as your relationship with yourself!
6. Listen to your burnout signs
Sometimes you may notice that you’re not feeling 100%. Perhaps you are more irritable than usual, have a headache, or simply feel exhausted. It is great to intentionally and actively respond to these small signs by doing something that you know helps you reset. By regularly checking in with ourselves during a busy day and listening to these small signals that our body and minds give us, we can avoid more serious burnouts and build a better relationship with our own mental health.
7. Refine your bedtime routine
Improving your sleep is such a simple tweak that you can make to your daily routine, yet it can have incredibly valuable effects. For example, the blue light emitted from screens can have a negative impact on the quality of your sleep. Therefore, commit to switching off your phone an hour before you go to sleep and engage in other relaxing activities such as reading a book or listening to music instead.
8. Ask for help
You should never feel like you have to take on the world alone. Implementing the above tips are small steps you can make as an individual, but it is completely normal to struggle. Having the strength to reach out and ask for help if you feel you need it could take the form of a quick text to someone you trust (“Hi, I’m feeling a bit down, could we have a chat?”), or arranging to go for a walk with someone you are comfortable with opening up to.