You know that saying, “when mama ain’t happy…”? Well, in our house, it applies to papa too. When he is stressed and tired and grumpy, we all feel it.
I recently had a lightbulb moment on this exact issue. One of the ways that I can promote a happier, more peaceful household is to encourage my husband in the practices of self-care that resonate most with him.
As women, the drumbeat of our current culture is “self-care, self-care, self-care”. I think we’re getting the message. Maybe. But according to my (admittedly unscientific) survey sample size, guys just aren’t hearing the same thing. For those who have the Type-A personality (both men and women!) it can be a struggle to think about self-care as a valid item on that to-do list. It feels neither productive, nor efficient, on a surface level.
Chris hasn’t spent time shaping a self-care plan, nor researching the best ways to take care of himself. He wouldn’t have a clue what I mean when I talk about self-care vs. self-comfort, and let’s be honest – he may not care all that much if I explained it him.
Realistically, he probably doesn’t have the mental margin to think about such things. His personality is definitely the “get ‘er done” type, which leaves him often putting himself last on the priority list. Plus, his job is pretty demanding and stressful, and this stuff just isn’t on his radar.
So, I’ve made it my mission to have it be on mine. Because I love him, and because making lists and plans is my idea of fun. (And because I very much prefer the non-burnt-out version of him!)
It wasn’t tough to come up with the seven items on this list. These are all things that I’ve either done for my awesome husband, or am consciously trying to facilitate.
7 Self-Care Acts for Guys
1. Essential oil blend roller bottle for stress
I had a pre-made roller bottle blend of essential oils that helps to alleviate stress, and I gave it to him to keep in his desk drawer at work. After one particularly stressful day where I rolled it onto his neck, and it alleviated his stress headache, he was totally sold on it.
The roller bottle is made with this blend of essential oils. I made my own roller bottle this time, but you can buy either the undiluted oil like I did, or the pre-diluted version already in a roller bottle.
2. The gym
Right after Christmas, he came home one day and announced that he had joined a gym. I admit – my enthusiasm was tampered by the realities of our stressful finances. We were just in the midst of getting our budget all set up, with a plan to pay off debt. I was worried about taking on a large monthly payment that would cramp our budget even more, despite knowing that the gym would be the perfect place for him to practice some self-care, especially during the long winter months here.
Y’all – I cannot describe to you how relieved I was to find out that his new gym, called Fit4Less, had just opened a new location near our house, and that their monthly membership fee started at just $4.99 every two weeks*. Compared to the $50+ monthly fee that he used to pay for a fancy gym with all of the frills he didn’t need? Completely affordable. I breathed a sigh of major relief, and we easily found a way to wiggle the numbers around and make it work.
He has been going fairly regularly (although sometimes it slips in priority, and we need to work together to make it easy for him to get there.) He’s a happier husband, father, and boss when he gets that time. They have a 30-Minute Express Circuit set up that he loves.
Fit4Less seems to be the perfect balance between being a no-frills gym (no fancy-pants juice bars, no personal trainers trying to sign you up for their expensive services), and ticking every box on his list for what he does want. Great equipment, a pre-made circuit to go through when he doesn’t want to think about what to do next, and an amazing price that fits our budget.
Finding a gym membership that works for him was actually my inspiration for being more intentional about helping him practice self-care more often, and I’m really grateful that it works so well!
3. Welcome home atmosphere
As a boss, he juggles a lot of stressful situations. When he comes home at the end of the day, the one thing that makes the biggest difference to him is when he steps into the doorway of a peaceful home. For him (I asked him to specify!), this means that the entry way is neat and tidy, and the kids are happy (obviously that’s not 100% under my control, but I do what I can to fill their love tanks and feed them a decent snack after school so that they aren’t melting down by dinner).
Bonus points if I’ve cleared the breakfast bar (the first visible kitchen surface) and lit a candle.
When I make those particular things a priority just before he arrives home, he appreciates it beyond words.
For his part, he bends over backwards to help out around the house whenever he’s home so that I’m free to focus on those sorts of things after I finish working for the day in the mid-afternoon. He helps make breakfast and pack lunches, he empties and reloads the dishwasher, he takes care of the garbage and recycling… and well, there’s not much he doesn’t do.
It’s a team effort, and his efforts in turn allow me to enable this key part in his stress relief at the end of the day.
4. Make sure he has healthy food options
We have a fairly typical division of labour in our home, with me being in charge of planning and cooking most meals. (He can certainly hold his own in the kitchen – this just happens to work best for us with my job being far more flexible than his.)
As such, one of the ways I can enable his self-care is to remind him to stop in the morning rush and make sure he’s eating a nourishing, real-food breakfast. (We eat a hot breakfast 99% of the time, even on school/work mornings.)
I also try to make sure he has lunch plans. Either he takes something from home (he loves taking leftovers), or he has a lunch meeting out. It’s easier for him to make sure he’s eating properly if there are accessible options that he doesn’t have to think about.
5. Muscle rub
Something that he’s always struggled with is carrying his stress in his shoulders and back muscles. We both could definitely use a gut-healing diet to reduce inflammation (that’s a whole other level of self-care that we need to tackle soon!), but the stress that causes him to tense his muscles often leaves him sore and achy at the end of a hard day.
One of the ways that he can practice self-care is to use a muscle rub cream (we like the muscle relief cream that I’ve had for a while, with essential oils). Another option is an arnica rub, which also works wonders.
6. Remove the guilt
One of the biggest barriers to his self-care practice is the guilt that he takes on. Typical for his personality type – he shoulders everyone else’s burdens, and leaves himself at the bottom of the priority list. When it comes time to do something purely for him, like go to the gym (which means leaving the house earlier or coming home later), he feels guilty.
One of the best ways that he can take care of himself is to believe me when I tell him that it’s okay, we’re okay, and nobody is going to fall apart without him here. He’s fully capable of making sure that he still gives his wife and family enough of his time and undivided attention, while also making a little time for himself. We love him and want him to be a healthier, happier, more endorphin-filled version of himself. It’s a win-win.
7. Meditation app
The last thing that I’ll mention here that has had significant impact on his health and mental wellbeing is meditation. I’m not talking sitting in silence for hours cross-legged with weird chanting. Nope, simply the practice of closing your eyes, and breathing deeply to calm your nervous system and bring fresh oxygen into the body can change how you handle the stresses of daily life.
We both like an app called Headspace that has a guided ten-minute meditations that you can listen to anywhere – at your desk, in your car (parked), or whatever. You pop in your earbuds and listen to a soothing Australian accent take you through some simple breathing and focusing exercises. It’s bliss.
These ideas for self-care are what work particularly well for my dear hubby. Some of these things are focused on preventing stress, and some are great for handling it. Either way, these are all excellent tools to have on hand for your favourite guy.
“Self-care is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.” (Christopher Germer)
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Fit4Less. The opinions and text are all mine.