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Mental Health and Self-Care

“Self-care” has become a popular term amongst women. When we think of self-care, it’s easy to envision baths with rose petals, massages, and shopping trips. But what is self-care, and how do males fit into the equation? Men aren’t marketed to the same “self-care” opportunities, yet if we look to the past, we see a different perspective. To figure this out, let’s go back. Way back. The concept of self-care dates back to the Greeks and Romans who believed that caring for the self would lead to a better existence for all. Essentially, the people who were able to practice self-care, and had the freedom and means to do so, would have a better understanding of themselves. In turn, they would follow their moral obligations to their community based on the inner spiritual and philosophical work they were internally processing. (Robinson) And back then, men were the only sex allowed to lead, therefore, it seems they were the true inventors of this seemingly new fad. Today, self-care is the concept of taking time for one’s self to better one’s overall disposition, emotional energy, and physical health. But unfortunately, in Capitalist America, the concept of bettering one’s mental health can get lost in a sea of products and services. So, what does self-care really look like, and how can males adopt self-care practices?

Males and Their Feelings

Before we can talk about self-care, we need to assess our emotional state. This is the lost step in marketed self-care. A great starting point is labeling the emotions we are feeling and determine why we are feeling that way. Let’s look at an example for clarification. William comes home from school angry. When his sister starts bugging him about playing a game, he becomes so mad that he grabs his sister’s toy and smashes it on the floor. Instead of realizing that this feeling was overtaking him, and his feelings had nothing to do with his sister, he gave in and found an outlet to release that anger—smashing the toy. He may feel better at the moment, but he hasn’t actually released the anger and probably caused himself a larger headache when his dad finds out. What could William have done instead of smashing the toy? This is where self-care comes in. Instead of watching his sister, he asks his dad for some time alone to process his feelings. He could take a shower to wash off the day, take a nap, or play a video game to calm down. Then he could talk it out with someone at home, a friend, or journal the experience to release it from his body. If William followed this path, he would have worked through his feelings then used his self-care techniques. He would have acknowledged the real issue--he was bullied at school--and avoided taking out that pain on his sister.

Underlying Reasons for Self-Care

William’s situation is one example, but what if there are multiple things adding up on your plate? A failed test + getting dumped + getting grounded for not doing your chores = stress stress stress. Sometimes, when we don’t stop and check in on our emotional state, things feel like they are adding up, building to a meltdown or a “worst day ever” scenario. How can we avoid this fate? Taking time. The best way to release negative emotions and turn your day, week, or month around is to take some time to relax. You could ask for a day off from school, you could ask to do something fun with your parents or friends, such as going to the movies or fishing, or you could simply take a day to be by yourself. The goal is to recognize that you need downtime to release the things that are causing you to stress and re-energize your mind, body, and soul. Sometimes it’s hard to decipher why we feel a certain way at a certain time. These emotions could be stemming from past trauma, abuse, or other significant events that made us feel deeply. When this happens, we aren’t able to process the feeling, or we don’t realize the severity of the feeling because the experience was traumatic, in which case, we repress it. If this sounds like you, it’s best to reach out to a mental health professional who can safely work you through these issues and get you back on a path of health and mental wellness.

Breaking Self-Care Stereotypes

It’s time to break the stigma of male self-care and create an avenue for males to release their emotional blockages the same way women are marketed and supported to do so. Get in that bubble bath, book a massage, and pamper yourself in whatever way feels good, right, and rejuvenating. Maybe it’s four-wheeling; maybe it’s taking the day to paint. Self-care could simply be a day in bed reading comics without anyone bothering you. No matter which option you choose, start by processing the emotion, then give yourself some time to release it safely. Self-care will look different on everyone, and that’s the point. It’s whatever we need in a moment of emotional upset, trauma, triggers, or simply being overworked. There are some who believe self-care is selfish, but when we are suffering from a mental health issue or addiction, self-care can mean the difference between using and not using, drinking and not drinking, life and death.

         If your self-care routine involves a substance, it’s time to seek help. Call Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center at (662) 478-9463 now. Our facility offers detox and individualized treatment plans that can get you healthy and teach you how to build a self-care routine centered around the one person that matters—you. Call today to find out your options for a better future.