Garrett Munce, grooming expert and author of Self-Care for Men, explains why personal TLC is essential and easier to practice than you may think. Plus: six simple self-care ideas for men.
Look, I totally get it. Taking time out of the day to care for yourself doesn’t always sound like the easiest thing to do. Packed schedules, endless to-do lists, and looming deadlines can make focusing on yourself seem frivolous and, well, just another thing to add to your list.
But if the long quarantine season of 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that stress is always going to be there. In fact, when our usual unwinding methods—like hanging out with friends, dining out, even going to the barbershop—are taken away from us, creating a personal self-care routine becomes even more important.
That’s why self-care is on everyone’s mind right now. We’re scrambling for ways to deal with what’s going on in the world. As things seem to spin out of control, we’re all searching for ways to decrease stress, disconnect for a little bit, and do something that just makes us feel good.
Men Need Self-Care, Too
If you’ve never had a self-care routine, starting one might seem intimidating. Especially if you’re a dude, who as a group are notorious for neglecting themselves.
We tend to think of self-care as what we see on social media: elaborate bathing routines, sunrise yoga, hours spent in advanced meditation, an insanely complicated #selfcaresunday DIY spa ritual. These images make self-care seem like a real commitment, you know? And you scroll past them thinking you could never do that.
But I’ll let you in on a secret: Self-care doesn’t have to be elaborate. At its base level, self-care is doing something because it makes you feel good. And it could be almost anything!
Chances are you’re already doing some things that count as self-care. Maybe you’ve adopted a new home workout routine lately. Welcome to self-care. Have you been going to bed earlier? That’s self-care, as well. Perhaps you’ve decided to eat a little healthier and cook more of your own food. That definitely counts as self-care, too.
6 Simple Self-Care Ideas for Men
Self-care shouldn’t be intimidating. It’s all about developing practices that make you feel more relaxed, less stressed, and generally better.
In my book, I outline a variety of ways men can begin to develop a self-care practice. Self-care is not one-size-fits-all, and your practice can be simple or elaborate. But the most important thing is that you include things that you actually want to do and can stick with.
If you’re not sure what those things could be, here are some places to start.
1. Develop A Skincare Routine
The reason many guys don’t get into skincare is because it seems complicated, but I’m here to tell you it’s not! Not only will a skincare routine keep you looking great in both the short and long terms, but it can actually make you feel better, too.
Creating a skincare ritual is tactile, as you’re actively applying products to your face. It helps you connect with your body and disconnect from the world, even for just a minute or two.
To create your own men’s skincare routine, start simple:
- Wash your face morning and night, and apply a moisturizer after washing.
- If you’re concerned about signs of aging, dab on an eye cream before you put on moisturizer. (FYI, the eyes are the first place many men notice signs of aging.)
- If your moisturizer contains SPF, that’s great. If it doesn’t, apply a lightweight sunscreen on top of it in the morning.
2. Practice Better Sleep Hygiene
Sleep is the ultimate self-care move. Sleeping is something you can do with very little effort (literally, in your sleep) and has wide-ranging positive effects on both your body and your mind.
Your body repairs itself while you sleep, which is an important part of muscle recovery, for example. But sleep is also incredibly important for the brain. A lack of sleep can lead to increased stress, memory issues, and even long-term health problems.
Think about your sleep hygiene, aka what you’re doing to set yourself up for the best sleep possible. Creating a self-care routine focused on sleep hygiene could include:
- turning off all screens two hours before bed
- not eating late at night
- avoiding stimulants like caffeine
- taking a natural sleep aid
- lowering the temperature of your room
- getting blackout curtains to keep out light pollution
3. Go On Walks
Whether we do it or not, we all know exercising has a variety of benefits. They include boosting your mood, regulating your weight, and improving your mood and sleep. But you don’t have to hit the gym hard every day to get these benefits.
Changing your attitude toward exercise from something you have to do to something you want to do can turn it into a self-care practice.
Going on walks—especially if you’re working from home or feel confined to one space—isn’t necessarily about burning calories. Taking a break and getting out into nature can improve your mood immediately and help you manage stress better.
Bonus points if you have a forest or park nearby. A Japanese practice called forest bathing, which is basically a walk in a forest, shows proven benefits to stabilize your mood and lift your spirits.
4. Take A Bath
When you think about self-care routines, you probably think of baths. That’s because baths have it all! They force you to unplug (both literally and figuratively), and in most cases allow you to be alone for a long-ish period of time.
Baths have proven health benefits, too. Soaking in warm water has been shown to:
- aid in muscle recovery
- increase circulation
- ease pain
- strengthen your heart
- regulate your mood
But lots of guys don’t take baths because they’re a commitment. However, I urge you to lean in to that commitment. Even if you don’t do it often, setting time aside to take a bath will leave you not only cleaner, but also happier.
5. Start Supplementing
We all know that our diet has a lot to do with how our bodies feel. When you eat better, you feel better—plain and simple.
But adding a supplement to your diet that could help you manage stress better might not be something you’ve thought of. In particular, natural ingredients called adaptogens help the body manage inflammation and can help you stay calm.
Adding a supplement containing an adaptogen—like HUM’S Big Chill, which contains rhodiola rosea—to your morning routine isn’t just about supplementing your body with vitamins. It’s also an act of self-care.
6. Light A Candle
Sometimes the simplest act can make the biggest difference. Case in point: the scented candle.
If you usually light a candle to cover up smells before you have company, rethink how you’re using them. Choosing (and lighting) the right candle can have an immediate impact on your mood because aromatherapy is real.
Studies have shown that certain smells induce reactions in our brains. Lavender, for instance, affects the part of our brains that’s responsible for relaxation and sleep. Citrus, on the other hand, promotes an energizing and focusing effect.
Using these aromatherapeutic benefits of candles to help you destress or focus is one of the easiest acts to incorporate into even the most basic self-care practice for men.
Contrary to what you may think, starting a self-care routine is easy: All it takes is one simple thing. And while these are some of my favorite practices, self-care is personal. Remember that it might take a bit of trial and error to find something you like enough to stick with.
Further, just because I’ve been talking about self-care for men doesn’t mean that these practices are exclusive to guys only.
These self-care tips are simple and easy to adopt for a man or anyone else who wants to begin building a self-care practice, yet doesn’t quite know where to start. No matter what you choose to do, remember the most important part of any self-care routine isn’t what you’re doing, but how it makes you feel.
For more men’s self-care tips and inspo, give Garrett Munce a follow on Instagram.