Posted on 22 February 2019
Lately, Mr Men’s Melbourne has been sharing a bit more of it’s brand values regarding men’s (and overall people’s) well-being and giving YOU the platform to speak up! Not to worry. We’re still doing what we do best. Fashion, lifestyle, and all things Melbourne GALORE! To add to the family, we’re simply about to introduce some exciting new content focused on self-expression and its impact on men’s mental health. It’s a pretty big step and we’re learning a lot along the way, however before that kicks off we’d like to, perhaps, start the conversation with a little look at self-care.
Recently we stumbled across a pretty interesting Forbes article on self-care. Within the story, Tami Forman writes that self-care is a discipline: “It requires tough-mindedness, a deep and personal understanding of your priorities and respect for both yourself and the people you choose to spend your life with.” We’re on board with that, especially respecting the people we choose to spend our life with.
In the online era where everything is marketed to us as a quick fix in the form a guide, a service or a treatment, self-care is often caught in the mix. While the memes might tell you to drop everyone and everything to do what makes you feel good, we won’t.
What it isn’t
Self-care isn’t failing to keep your end of a deal because you’ve changed your mind; it’s also not leaving a friend for dead because you decided to go hiking, and it’s certainly not having someone wait around while you do something that makes you feel better. That’s not self-care, that’s selfish.
Difficult situations are where we both lose and gain friends. Talk to a soldier, an athlete or anyone who has endured hardship in a group: often the best relationships are formed out of hardship. Everyone reacts differently, everyone has their own way of overcoming stressful situations and dark times. Seeing firsthand how a person overcomes a difficult situation, especially when the outcome affects others teaches you a lot about them. Hence adventure training or problem-solving challenges being some of the best team building and bonding activities.
People shouldn’t succumb to your needs and wants purely because you’re having a hard time. The thought that the world owes us anything other than nothing is purely the byproduct of where we were brought up. Welfare, university fee loans and free public health systems are the results of having a good taxation system. Are they evidence of a civilised country? Are they basic rights? That’s debatable.
Indulgence, a poor habit
Growing up, my mother would always say to me, “The best helping hand you can get, is the one on the end of your wrist”. More often than not, people can’t fix your problems for you. It’s nobodies responsibility to take care of you or make you feel better. People shouldn’t want to, nor should you want them to.
It’s taking care of yourself in a way that doesn’t require you to “indulge” in order to restore balance, Tami Forman, Forbes.
For some people, it seems that self-care is like a sizzler salad bar, but instead of queuing up and paying like everyone else, they’ve let themselves through back door, picked up a plate and eaten. This kind of indulgence won’t help you, nor those around you. All you’ve done is skipped the hardest part and gone straight for the prize. In doing so you’ve made something enjoyable into a quick fix, which in turn will be short-lived simply because it came too easy. You’ve also annoyed those around you.
A self-care routine that cares
We’ve gone on a lot about what self-care isn’t, indulgence and difficult situations so it’s time to discuss what self-care might look like.
Exercising self -control and making the right self-care investments
What’s the difference? That laptop you like, the one that is $200 more than the rest but has the hardware to get you working faster and more productive at work–that’s a good investment. That third caramel mocha for the day, the one with whipped cream and caramel sure to tip the sugar scales–that’s indulgence. That group boxing class that might be a little pricey but keeps you motivated and working harder, that’s self-care. $180 to see a personal trainer three times a week? If you’re an athlete, sure, but if you’re not, it’s safe to say that’s an indulgence. That money could be better spent – maybe even on the knowledge to train yourself.
Boundaries are inevitably one of the most important factors when establishing relationships. Understanding those invisible lines which border friend or more than friends, comfort and cross, and enough or extreme is the key to sustaining relationships. It’s ok to say no to events we find mentally draining, but as long as we say “no” and don’t leave our friends hanging–honesty and communication are key. It’s also important to ask ourselves before we ask others: how would I feel if this was asked of me? Do you remember being taught to treat others how you’d like to be treated? That rule still applies, and no, it’s not open to interpretation.
Staying connected (offline)
Melbourne-based not-for-profit mental health organisation Beyond Blue says that men often feel loneliness more than women, and the pressure of our social structure to work hard and support a family often doesn’t help. We understand social media can accentuate those pressures, especially some of the so-called motivational blogs which cherry-pick pictures of expensive cars, homes and holidays. Beyond Blue’s advice on looking after ourselves is to spend time with our friends in person, “even if it’s just a quick check-in, coffee or a quiet beer”. If you’re too busy to meet in person, a simple G’day text is their closest solution as well as offering a hand during tough times.
Sparing a thought for those closest to us
One of the last things to remember is that our well-being not only affects ourselves but also those around us. A hard time for us is a hard time for our friends and family–although we might not see it at the time, it’s important to understand this. No one likes to see their friends or family in agony.
We also need to show appreciation for the care we receive. If we take advantage of our friends’ kindness and help ourselves to their assistance in the name of poor mental health, we’re not only being selfish, we’re acting in a way that could be detrimental to those potentially suffering just as much as us. Acting as such is only going to push the people we need most further away from not only ourselves but possibly other friends in tough times. In a way further fuelling the already overhyped Self Help market.
It’s ok to be lost, it’s ok to need a hand sometimes, but boundaries still need to be respected. You can ask for help, you might even discover sharing your problems can help others (as we did recently), but please don’t mix up poor behaviour with self-care–the outcome can affect much more than just us.