December 4, 2017
Why Self-Care Is Gender Neutral
Setting aside a few minutes each day for yourself isn’t just for women
Photos courtesy of Sah D'Simone
By Rebecca Davis
writer for The Natural
Search #selfcare on Instagram, and you’ll find nearly 3.5 million photos with the tag. But scroll through the shots of candlelit bathtubs, bendy yoga poses, and drool-worthy smoothie bowls and you may notice something missing: posts from men. Self-care is generally considered the domain of women. And according to wellness insiders, it’s high time that changed.
Just ask Sah D’Simone. The Brooklyn-based transformational life coach and meditation teacher is not shy about sharing on social media the ways he focuses on his own well-being every day. He swears that more than any other habit, setting aside time every morning to just work on himself is what helped him improve his own mental health.
“It’s basically a need—it’s not selfish,” D’Simone insists. “I can’t be the best version of myself if I don’t have self-care as a priority. How can we show up for others if we have such mental chaos within ourselves?”
His routine is complex—it clocks in at over three hours—and features a lot of the usual “wellness” suspects (think journaling, meditating, and setting intentions for the day). But it also includes many things that the average person is probably already doing and just never even considered to be “self-care.” For D’Simone that includes watering his plants, going for a run, and calling his parents (which he does every morning on his way to the gym).
So what is it about having a personal routine that is so powerful to people—any gender included? “Self-care gives us the toolkit to transform our brain, and therefore transform our minds and become a benefit to everybody,” D’Simone explains. “The breathing rhythm I have when I’m on the subway tells people that it’s safe to sit next to me; my smell sends people the message that it’s safe to sit next to me. It’s all non-verbal signals to the people around us.”
Projecting these types of positive non-verbal signals could be a game-changer for anyone interested in exploring self-care. “You can’t expect to grow up and not work on yourself when you have the world throwing things at you every five minutes,” says D’Simone. “You can’t expect to thrive if you’re not cleaning yourself up.”
That’s not to say it’s going to be easy. “Men can be really quick to do the physical thing—taking care of their body, eating good food. But sometimes it’s hard to really be able to use these tools to then dive into their mental landscape,” D’Simone says, noting that a lot of that struggle for anyone can come from internalized social norms.
Photo courtesy of Alejandro Escamilla/Unsplash
His advice? Think small—and don’t be afraid to get real with your emotions. He suggests starting with a gratitude journal, where you just make a simple list of three to five things you’re grateful for in that very moment. (Cold brew coffee or warm baths are totally valid entries.) Once you’ve incorporated that into your routine, he recommends adding in meditation and nourishing, healthy meals. In other words, self-care doesn’t have to be intimidating and in 30-minutes you could take care of yourself, while also crossing off “eat breakfast” from your to-do list.
The good news is that, already, D’Simone notices the paradigm around self-care and gender shifting. “I’m seeing a lot of men coming to classes, connecting on Instagram, and being grateful [that I’m] really speaking about an emotional landscape from a personal vocabulary,” says D’Simone. And the end result could be major. As he puts it, “The beautiful thing about self-care is you can become a cognitive superhero, where you’re learning faster, you’re communicating better, and there’s a much clearer connection to what you’re experiencing.” Which is something that, no matter how we individually self-identity, we can all appreciate.