This year has been especially difficult for everyone. With a pandemic raging, seemingly never-ending election coverage, impending winter and continued social unrest—it doesn’t seem like 2020 is giving anyone a break. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported in August 2020 that by late June this year, 40% of U.S. adults were struggling with either mental health or substance use disorders. It is fair to say, we all need some self-care right now.
However, when we think of self-care, we often think women going to the spa, getting nails done, or picking up a yoga class. In fact, there are millions of dollars spent on advertising in the United States encouraging women to spend more money on these activities and items associated with self-care, and whole industries around this premise. Self-care then becomes socialized as a luxury afforded to only women, even though it is fundamental to everyone’s well-being, regardless of gender.
Men are socialized to be independent, support others and their families, and be productive. It is “masculine” to work longer, harder, and faster—and to do all that without complaint. However, now, more than ever, we need to destigmatize self-care and encourage work-life balance, mindfulness and whole health for everyone.
We need to reframe what self-care means, and provide opportunities and language for both genders to engage in activities that promote whole health and wellness.
Some activities we could reframe as self-care activities for men include fantasy football, friendly games of poker, joining a bowling league, and participating in a deer hunt. In fact, hunting is a great form of self-care because it encourages connection to nature, mindfulness, and promotes feelings of hopefulness (hope to snag that 10-point buck, anyone?).
Other self-care actions men could consider taking include getting a massage, hitting the gym, getting an annual check-up, starting a new hobby, reading a book or trying acupuncture.
If you take care of yourself, goals like working longer and harder are more achievable and sustainable. Additionally, self-care might help 2020 be a little more tolerable—for all genders.
Carmen Finn MA, LADC, ADCR-MN is the current Sr. Director of Treatment Services at Recovering Hope Treatment Center in Mora. “Finn” has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy and has been providing services to individuals and families in the field of behavioral health for 20 years.