Oh, Mary

How Self Care Leads to Respect

September 21, 2020
Shawn Shirey

September is National Self Care Month and it’s time to chill. This means you, knuckle dragger. Historically, males aren’t allowed to show their emotions. We need to be tough. We’re the MAN. 

Throw that out the window. According to the American Psychology Association, hypermasculinity creates deep-rooted problems and violence in our communities. “In early childhood, violence and aggression are used to express emotions and distress. Over time, aggression in males shifts to asserting power over another, particularly when masculinity is threatened.” This pressure of upholding masculine norms, whether self-sufficiency, lack of emotion and connectedness, or asserting dominance takes its toll on individuals and on our society.

We all need self care. More than ever, with the world in political, social and environmental turmoil, this is so important. Sometimes it feels impossible to take the time to relax, but a deep breath can make all the difference in the quality of your life and your productivity. Or you can go ahead and run yourself ragged.

I have numerous hobbies. Musician, photographer, visual artist. One of the most mind-clearing and liberating things I do in my life is create music. When I pick up my guitar or synthesizer and just play, I am transported to another place, away from stress and away from my daily struggles. Creating art requires patience and attention. This can create a positive reset and help me come back to work refreshed with new ideas and an energized mindset. This is my go-to self care.

If I have time, I love to go to the mountains or the ocean. This is where I can fully recharge my batteries. To me there’s nothing better than enjoying nature and getting back to our basic earthly roots, even if just for a weekend. The smell of the forest and the sound of the waves breaking on the shore are a comfort to me. I always know when I can get away and immerse myself in natural scenery, it will give me the peace I need to keep on going. Not only that, my brain will be filled with new thoughts and a fresh perspective.

Men need to let themselves be vulnerable. It doesn’t make them less. It makes them whole.

Self care is work. Men have built a shell around themselves. Culturally, we’re raised to think that it’s part of our DNA. But I see hope in younger generations shedding this ego. We have to allow ourselves to heal. And we need to hold ourselves accountable. If we have experienced abuse or negative learning in our past, it’s up to us to fix it. It won’t be easy. Nothing of worth ever is. Therapy can guide you in moving past learned behaviors. It’s often a long haul, but through it you will gain true inner peace and self-acceptance. 

Whatever you do, meditate, chant, pray, sing, laugh, cry… do it with purpose and honesty and you’ll be feeling better in no time.