10 Self-Care Tips For Men To Boost Your Mental Health

The importance of self-care in men's mental health and tips to practice it.

man smiling with splashing water on face
Written by Thom Watson
Oct 10, 2021 

Self-care is something that everyone should do, especially if we are feeling stressed or low. Not participating in self-care is often the reason we feel stressed or low.

But, when men hear the word self-care, they often think about self-care in the physical sense. We might focus on healthy diets, sports or something that will help us look after our bodies. That is fine, but physical fitness should be combined with specific mental self-care activities to ensure your mental fitness is at the top of your game. Your mind is a muscle too. Don’t neglect it!

Why Don’t Men Take Enough Self-care?

Good discussion about male self-care is significantly under-represented - other than “talk about your feelings more” which can sometimes feel weaponised or a ‘trap’. We tell ourselves that as men, we must be self-reliant, self-sufficient whilst showing no hesitation, no uncertainty and not wavering an inch. Strength ≠ obstinance.

As a culture (writing this with a UK-bias) even in recent years, phrases such as ‘the modern man’ or ‘metrosexual’ are still used to mock men and that anything less than washing your face with mud and sleeping on a bed of bricks is not real masculinity.

A lot of this does stem from many different theories about our male behavioural traits: evolutionarily, genetically and/or learned (source) but that’s a different article for another time. It’s also no surprise that it’s scientifically proven we comparatively don’t like asking for help - or map directions (source).

People Say That Men Don’t Talk?

Well that’s not true, by a long shot (source) but as men, we often don’t have the right environments or learnt tools for expressing our feelings and angst.

But don’t confuse expressing emotion and tackling feelings (good or bad) with the belief that you have to portray yourself as an ‘emotional wreck’; no one is saying that and these things are not synonymous. It’s also not about changing who we are on a fundamental level, but simply using the tools around us to better express the things we’re already feeling.

Why is Self-care Important?

Having poor mental health can affect your body negatively as much as having good mental health and habits will affect you positively, there’s a causal link to bad mental health and early death (source).

Our mind and body are connected and constantly supporting each other. Putting in a healthy self-care routine can minimise stress, depression and anxiety as well as it helps improve focus, energy and motivation, releasing endorphins and just allowing us to work stuff out!

How do I start self-care?

If you are looking for self-care ideas for men for you as a man, or a man in your life, we’ve got you covered. We at Humanery take self-care for men very seriously, we don’t preach or patronise, we look at the science, we look at our experiences and we believe there is a better way to look at life. Men should have the space to express their emotions and explore what it means to be a man in every way.

Our self-care experts have created the following list of self-care ideas to help men like you take control of your mental well-being. You don’t have to do them all. Pick and choose the ones that appeal to you the most.

10 Very Good Self-Care Tips for Men

1. Take a Mental Health Day  

man paddle boarding

What is a mental health day?

A mental health day isn’t just a millennial buzzword or something that you need to announce to the whole office, it’s a seriously good self-care idea for any man, or anyone who needs to take a minute to breathe. You can use your mental health day to disconnect from everyday stress and do anything that you enjoy. 

What should you do on a mental health day?

Knowing where to start with a mental health day can be daunting but there are a few simple men’s self-care activities that can help you navigate the day for example reading, going to the beach, going for a full grooming session either at home or at the barber, exercising or even just catching up on sleep.

2. Have a self-care day with Friends

men on cliff

Organise a communal self-care day! Invite friends around and spend the whole day taking it easy and relaxing in self-care activities together. 

Men’s self-care activities

It’s always a good time to have those you care about around you and can do anything together. Go for a walk, cook or just sit on the sofa and watch movies. Be open and upfront about wanting to unwind and make sure your friends are on board that it isn’t a ‘sesh’.

Communal self-care for men may seem odd but it helps them get close with their friends again, helping them reconnect through new activities without feeling like they are being selfish about self-care.

You might be surprised at how self-care discovery can help you get to know others better and discover new sides to people you have known for years.

3. Take Up Journaling

blank journal

Start a journal to help you make sense of what’s going on in your life. Don’t be afraid to write absolutely anything down.

Keep track daily as thoughts come up, and don’t worry about where they will head next. Write everything down with an open mind.

Expressing your thoughts and feelings through writing can help you physically externalise problems and better resolve them, again, it’s proven to help (source).

Also note we tend to write things down when we’re at our happiest and our saddest, so don’t worry about reading back and things looking a little more ‘full on’ than you remember, but when doing a journal, everything goes as it’s your mind and your rules!

4. Practice Positive Self-Talk

man looking out the window

Being kind to yourself is key when it comes to self-care. Your mood will be different every day, but it’s important to be honest with yourself when you are feeling sad or in a low mood as much as it is when you are in your happiest days. Practising positive-self talk every day, especially when you need kind words, becomes easier the more you do it. 

Self-care books to support men’s self-care 

If getting started may sound too difficult, there are always self-help books you can sink your teeth into to create some positive thought processes, such as defining ‘locusts of responsibility’ - accepting the things you can, and things you cannot control (from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).

Reading about others’ experiences, how they got to a better place and learning some tips is a great step towards a healthier self-care routine. Books about particular coping techniques such as mindfulness meditation or cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) can be extremely useful.

What self-care books should men read?

Below are three recommendations to get started. You can keep it short and simple. 

7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Why has nobody told me this before?
The Wim Hof Method

5. Get Involved In Volunteer Work

man volunteering

If you’ve got too much on your plate, this might not be for you and whilst volunteering is one of the best things you can do for your own self-care and care of others, don’t overload yourself and burn out.

Volunteering is a great way to give back and make yourself feel good. Volunteering can improve self-esteem, boost your confidence, and provide you with an opportunity for personal growth without even realising it!

The feeling that you’re impacting other people’s lives is impossible to match with any amount of money or success. This means should consider getting involved whenever they can.

6. Discover New Outdoor Activities 

man sitting on rock by a lake

There is nothing quite like nature and fresh air when you are looking for an effective self-care method to add to your routine. The outdoors have great benefits to the mind and body if you are looking to relieve stress and relax. There are activities that, when carried outside, can intensify the results (source).

Getting yourself involved in some outdoor activities, or even just going for a walk every day, will have an impact on your physical and mental state. Experiencing a rural setting might have better results but a few steps out in the city can also improve one’s mood (source). There are outdoor sports and hobbies you can take up to help improve your wellbeing 

What outdoor activities can you do to promote self-care?

It’s been said - exercising can be a great way to get into a self-care routine. Physical exercise has benefits for the mind and body. Not only that, but you can also just step out and experience nature. Try photography, hiking, or exploring new places. Activities like this can help your creativity, motivation and fitness.

7. Spend Some Time Alone

man sitting alone at a restaurant

You’ve tried a communal self-care day with your friends, now spending some time with yourself is next on the list. Being able to be alone is almost a skill we need to work on, but at the same time, it’s important not to isolate yourself long-term.

Spending time alone allows room for personal exploration. This is very important in order to fully recharge and connect with your thoughts, develop and grow as a person. (source)

Spending some alone time might give you a fresh perspective about life which could, in turn, lead back to creating better ways of taking care of yourself. It’s a self-help cycle that keeps spinning.

If you need some inspiration on what to do with yourself, you can try meditation, visit galleries or museums, read or pick up a new hobby. 

8. Give Yoga And Meditation A Try

man doing yoga

Stress is not exclusive to one gender, so neither should its solutions be. Regularly practising yoga, meditation, or any kind of mind and body relaxation has proven health benefits. (source)

What does it help?

Finding and engaging in healthy activities to help improve men's mental health is incredibly beneficial and should be talked about more. Keeping a spot in your calendar for regular unwinding with meditative practices can have a big positive impact on your day-to-day life. Yoga and meditation can help reduce stress and many stress-related issues such as sexual dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, depression, and anxiety (source).

Besides reducing stress and health issues, meditative practices support improving stress management as it helps us learn how to view and deal with stress in a healthier way.

9. Keep Things Organised

Keep your living space tidy so that you can enjoy your time at home without feeling overwhelmed by clutter. A tidy space promotes a tidy mind. Make your bed each morning and keep your desk organised. If you work from home, creating a division between work and personal space is also massively important. If you don’t and still commute or work out and about, when you return home, getting out of your work clothes can also improve the separation of our increasingly busy and stressful work lives, and home.

The more you can keep on top of the messes that are waiting for attention around your home, the easier life gets as you will have a place free from the constant chaos of the world. 

10. Limit Your Screen Time

concerned man looking at his phone

Limiting screen time is for other people, right? You definitely don’t have a problem spending too much time on your phone, laptop, tablet etc. No, you can quit any time you like… Put the phone down!

We all spend too much time staring at screens, even the author of this article, you’re not alone. Self-care through screen time reduction is not just about bombarding your retinas with blue light and increasing eye-strain.

Humans are not designed to consume so much information, all the time. In a day, you may read a newspaper; go to the shops and in the evening, meet a friend for a chat. On your phone, you’re doing all that in the space of five minutes.

We understand screens are an essential part of the modern world, so we know that removing them completely is not an option. But, the benefits of limiting your time spent on them are massive in terms of the benefits to your self-care and overall mental wellbeing. Even if you reduce your time slowly, you’ll notice enormous differences almost instantly.

The dangers of social media and self-care

Social media is particularly to blame and studies are even being conducted into its links to erectile dysfunction (ED) (source) as well as often cited as causes of depression, the more we use it, the higher the links of depressive symptoms (source). A great book worth reading on the subject, by the ‘father of virtual reality’ Jaron Lanier, is Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now - it may be a big step on your journey to meaningful self-care!

We want all men, including yourself, to take control of their mental well-being by investing in self-care practices that will help you manage your emotions and stress levels while boosting their moods instead of letting these things overwhelm them. Don’t be afraid to open up. We at Humanery are always here to listen.

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