Self-care can have multiple meanings and interpretations but in essence means the part of our physical being and mind that can be regulated by our own effort. For too long, self-care has been regarded as belonging to the domain of women. And while it is true that everyone needs self-care, there hasn’t been enough emphasis and resources available to men in order for them to live the best life possible. In my view, there are four fundamental elements that revolve around self-care that all need to be in balance and continuously maintained in order to be effective: Strength, Hygiene, Clarity, and Testosterone. All these four elements need to be in synergy for true self-care for men.
The overall physical state of your body can drastically affect the quality and longevity of your life. The less active we become and the more weight we gain, the more likely we are to develop health problems and either live a significantly sub optimal life or die early. While it is commonly accepted that any sort of aerobic exercise such as walking or biking for two and half hours a week should be sufficient for health, studies have shown that strength training primarily through weight lifting provides the maximum results.
For men, strength is inextricably tied to testosterone which not only provides our strength but weight lifting has been shown to boost testosterone as well, a circle of improvement that all men need. Sometimes it seems like starting a weight lifting routine can be complicated and intimidating especially when you consider whether you should join or gym or even afford to, but the best thing is that it all boils down to a simple basic thing: pick heavy stuff up and put it down. This can done anywhere even at home. In regard to the self-care for men, strength training forms one of the fundamental pillars to a healthy and proactive life.
Most people when they hear the world hygiene, they think of washing your hands and brushing your teeth. While true, those practices specifically refer to personal hygiene. While we all need to get into the habit of good personal hygiene and study ways to improve it, the concept of hygiene actually relates to practices beneficial to the preservation of health, not just cleanliness of our own body. Good hygiene practices affect both our environment around us, our daily habits, and the way we take care of our outward appearance. Sleep forms the backbone of all hygiene habits, because sleep provides time for our body to heal and rejuvenate ourselves. A lack of sufficient sleep can lead to depression, weight gain, a weakened immune system, and an increased risk of heart attacks. Recent studies have shown that men actually require more sleep than women even though statistically men sleep fewer hours than women. All plans about self-care for men should include how to maximize and improve the quality of their sleep.
With a mind clouded with doubt, depression, and despair, self-care for men can fall to the wayside and become nearly impossible to maintain. A clear and focused mind can accomplish great things and creates a path forward through difficult circumstances and conditions. Clarity brings control over how and where you spend your valuable energy and reduces the crippling psychological and physical effects of stress. While everyone may have their own tricks to focus their mind and achieve clarity, one of the most effective methods available is meditation.
Meditation has been used for centuries to train “the monkey of the mind.” There are a variety of techniques that can be utilized some more complicated than others, but it all comes down to emptying the mind and breath control. You can literally meditate anywhere and can choose to either focusing a specific object or practicing letting go of each thought as it enters your mind while breathing deeply counting to ten pausing to hold your breath momentarily. Meditation even for a few minutes can provide great benefits to your health and should be included in all self-care regiments.
Out of all elements of self-care for men, one stands above them all, testosterone. Testosterone literally makes a man into a man being responsible for the development of sexual organs, muscle mass, deepening of the voice, and strength. Low levels of testosterone can lead to sleeplessness, weight gain, fragile bones, and increased fatigue among others, so maintaining a good level of testosterone is key to maintaining all the other elements of self-care. Testosterone does, of course, decrease as men age but there are things that accelerate this decline that can be avoided with discipline such as alcohol, soy products, and trans-fats. There are also things that can be done to boost testosterone which tie back into the other elements of self-care such as lifting weights, getting enough sleep, and minimizing stress through methods such as meditation.
Four Elements in Synergy
Strength, Hygiene, Clarity, and Testosterone all build on each other creating the circular loop of synergy that is self-care for men. While caring for yourself may seem selfish there are fathers, grandfathers, brothers, husbands, and friends that are all needed and essential to those in their lives and the countless peripheral people they touch each passing day. If they don’t take care of themselves, they could limit their possibilities for change, cripple their abilities, and cut their life short thus creating a ripple effect far greater than they could imagine. It isn’t enough to just want to be better, you have to make a plan, act on it, and become better. The mind and body both need to be brought under control, and you need to educate yourself to know how to listen to your body and its needs. Don’t try to shake it off or wait too long to get that slightly annoying pain or feeling of discomfort you’ve had for weeks. Lift weights, meditate, sleep well, and live well. You can be the best version of yourself, if you just try.