Despite all the evidence suggesting the many benefits of self-care, there remains a persistent stigma that men who make time to look after their needs are somehow weak or selfish. This concept relates closely to the pervasive problem of toxic masculinity – the idea that men should strive to be hypercompetitive, aggressive and entirely self-sufficient.
Modern societal expectations for men’s gender roles come with many downsides. Men are less likely than women to reach out when they’re struggling or feeling mentally unwell, leading to higher rates of suicide and substance abuse among men. They might suppress their feelings to the point of becoming emotionally unavailable, which harms their relationships. What are some steps you can take to normalize self-care for men and put a halt to toxic masculinity?
1. Explore New Pursuits
Men may be reluctant to pursue self-care because our culture has put specific interests into rigid boxes. In reality, no activity is inherently “masculine” or “feminine.” If you want to reap the many wellness benefits of things like massage therapy, baking or journaling, you should feel free to dive into new hobbies without fear of anyone else’s judgment. To further combat the stigma, invite friends to take a yoga or art class with you.
2. Hone Your Problem-Solving Skills
If you view the world through the lens of toxic masculinity, you might believe conflict and aggression are the best ways to solve problems. That mindset leads to issues ranging from road rage to domestic violence. Instead of resorting to anger or hostility when things aren’t going your way, learn healthy conflict management skills. Doing so will require you to explore your emotions, become a better listener and take a proactive role in improving your relationships.
3. Expand Your Horizons
It’s 2020, and white, male cishet privilege is as pervasive as ever. So is institutionalized sexism. If you don’t see these as problems, you can never be part of the solution. Overcome these ingrained societal issues by exploring the viewpoints of marginalized communities. Read books authored by groundbreaking feminists and people of color. Educate yourself on the history of the LGBTQ+ community and how hard they must still fight to achieve many of the same rights you probably take for granted. Then, you can use your privilege to champion the greater good.
4. Be an Ally
Once you’ve learned more about systemic issues like sexism and other forms of discrimination, you have a responsibility to speak out when you see examples of these problems happening around you. Part of normalizing self-care for men is making more compassionate life choices, and encouraging those around you to do the same.
Addiction Treatment as a Form of Self-Care for Men
If substance abuse is taking its toll on your ability to maintain relationships and live a fulfilling life, a qualified addiction treatment program can help you get back on the right track. At New Found Life, we have served the needs of adults living with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders since 1993. Contact us to learn more about our programming, including telehealth and 12-step immersion.