How To: Self-Care For The Modern Man by Jessica Punter
By Jessica Punter
Jessica Punter is a Grooming Editor and regular contributor to men’s lifestyle destination, Ape to Gentleman. Jessica’s has held staff roles at FHM and FHM Collections and as the former Style & Grooming editor at British GQ. She has reported on the world of men’s grooming since 2006 and her work has been published by British GQ, MR PORTER, MATCHESFASHION, Oracle Time, FashionBeans and British Airways. She lives in London.
Self-care is all about staying healthy, both physically and mentally. Everyone has a different idea about what self-care means to them; to some, it’s taking a ‘duvet day’ to stave off burnout, to others it’s making time for something that comforts or soothes, like reading a book or taking a bath. It’s also about boundaries; saying no to people who take too much from us and putting limits on toxic relationships - be it with a boss, a friend, a family member or a partner.
In the world of grooming, self-care is a manicure, a massage, a seven-step Korean skincare routine - and everything in between. By taking care of the outside, we also look after our emotional wellbeing, as the feeling of being groomed often inspires greater self-confidence.
During the now distant lockdowns, most of us probably learned that while it can feel liberating to let go of our personal care standards every once in while (no deo - no problem!) unless you found the clippers, that first, post-lockdown visit to the barbers was received like Manna from the Gods – or the lost sheep from the Outback, finally relieved of his overgrown fleece. Turns out, that feeling like you’re ready to take on the world sometimes costs as little as a fresh haircut. So, if you’ve never considered what a self-care routine should look like, here are a few pointers:
Step 1: Learn To Listen To Your Mind & Body
Some of us experience a boom-bust cycle with our physical or emotional health, knowing that we can hit a deadline or take on a big project, only to crash with a cold or a flare-up of stress-related symptoms we keep at bay until the minute it’s all done. When we live off the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, we are writing cheques that our body will have to cash later. Taking the time to listen to your inner voice, to know when you need to take a break and, crucially, to take it, will help stave off bigger health issues in the future.
Step 2: It Doesn’t Need To Cost A Lot Of Money
Stretching, walking and spending time in nature are all restorative activities that relieve stress and benefit our sense of wellbeing. Tidying up or clearing away clutter are other ways to feel more calm or focused. Something as simple as drinking more water, or reducing our caffeine intake, can boost the skin enormously.
Step 3: It Doesn’t Need To Take A Lot Of Time
Meditation apps, such as Headspace or Calm, provide an easy way to take 5 minutes out of a busy day for a mental re-set. When things start to feel overwhelming, a short pause can help us feel more capable of handling a growing To-Do list. Grooming rituals that take slightly longer than the perfunctory routine allow us to pause our busy lives, to focus on our breathing and to be more present in the moment. So, whenever you apply a face mask try to lie down for 15 - 20 minutes to give your skin an extra boost and your body a break. A gua sha white jade tool is an excellent way to get the most out of your skincare products, massage and tone the skin, and relieve tension around the jaw and the facial muscles (great for people who clench or grind their teeth).
Step 4: Let Someone Else Do It For You
Ever had the ADAM Man-icure at Harrods? Then you’ll know (with both hands occupied) it’s a good opportunity to put down the phone and relax. Likewise, massage guns are great, but they could never replace the healing power of a therapist’s hands (or elbows) in a real deep tissue massage. At Ruffians, the 15-minute facial is topped off with a blissful upper body and scalp massage - it’s an express treatment that puts an extra spring in our step.
Step 5: Sleep More, Sleep Better
Like a nutritious diet and regular exercise, adequate sleep is one of the core pillars of good health. Struggling to drift off at night? Good sleep hygiene, or maintaining a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, can foster better sleep. By now most of us know that the blue light from screens interferes with our circadian rhythms and keeps us awake, but it can be hard to resist reaching for the phone during those wide-eyed moments. Here are a few tips to try:
It’s not as easy as it sounds but try to give yourself a screen-free hour before hitting the sheets. A sleep tracking app can help you identify ways to improve your sleep quality, simply by logging your daily stats. Take a sleep supplement - such as TenT Nutrition SLEEP-supplement - to give yourself an optimal blend of sleep promoting vitamins and minerals, like magnesium.
Create ‘zones’ in your home using aromatherapy. Place scented candles in the living room, around the bath, or in the bedroom to make it easier to switch off from the day’s events, and let the body know it’s time to sleep. Or you can do this on the body by dabbing anatomē’s Recovery + Sleep onto pulse points. It features a relaxing blend of lavender, sage, chamomile, peppermint and Japanese seaweed.
A ten-minute soak in the tub with a generous dash of BAVE bath salts is another good way to unwind and promote better sleep. The self-heating Popmask Deep Sleep Eye Mask provides 20 minutes of snooze-inducing warmth to help send you more swiftly to the Land of Nod.