Why it’s time for men to value self-care

Each November a flurry of beards and moustaches begin to appear, and most of us know the reason why.

WORDS: Ferdinand Godinez

Since 2003, the entire month of November is dedicated to Movember – a worldwide movement that encourages men to put down their razors and grow facial hair to raise awareness on men’s overall health.

It’s a call to men to take care of themselves, from getting checked for diseases – particularly prostate cancer – to taking care of their mental health.

Aiming for overall wellbeing should not be a one-month affair, of course, but rather a year-long goal for men of all ages.

So, here are a few essential grooming and wellness habits men should embrace at all times.

Get a haircut

A good haircut makes you feel clean, good-looking and boosts your confidence.

It’s important to find a barber who understands your hair type and is experienced enough to be able to recommend a suitable cut for your hair and face type.

But how often should men get a haircut? “It depends on the hair style,” says Brian Wanzama, barber at Chaps & Co located in The Abu Dhabi EDITION hotel.

“For a longer haircut like slick back type or pompadour, it’s something that you definitely want to maintain every two weeks, maybe between ten or 14 days,” he says.

“Now for a shorter haircut like a skin fade, you can do this [every] maybe two to three weeks or even one month. Because if you cut the right shape in your hair it can have a pretty good grow back.

“If you have more of a crew cut style then definitely every two weeks is a good amount of time to maintain your hair.”

Communicating effectively is key to maintaining a lasting relationship between customer and barber.

“If you don’t know what to do [with your hair], it’s amazing if you can go to someone and get direction on what to do with your hair. This [knowing what you want; communicating it] can improve your style a lot and make you feel a lot better with yourself,” says Brian.

“So trust you barber, try to communicate the best you can and keep your mind open – there may be a better look for you that you’re not sure of.”

Caring for your beard

Not all men are fond of growing a beard, but if you do have one, it’s important to give it the utmost care, especially for hygiene reasons.

“Don’t forget to wash your beard when you’re in the shower, especially if it’s quite thick,” says Nick Rego, lifestyle journalist and former editor for online platform AskMen Middle East.

“Get a light beard shampoo that you can massage into it to wash out grime and dead skin, and then finish off with a light beard oil that moisturises the skin under your beard.”

Watch your skin

The importance of skin care is not exclusive to women. Taking care of the skin is equally vital for men, especially facial skin since a good outer appearance helps to improve confidence.

“To achieve good skin, the most important step is skin protection, which includes skin cleansing, skin moisturising, and avoidance of sunlight exposure to minimise aging and damage,” advises Dr Saulat Zahra, dermatology specialist at Bareen International Hospital.

Eating food rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking lots of water are essential to skin care.

A dermatologist can provide you with the appropriate skin care best for your skin type and compatible with your lifestyle as well.

“There are many modern and advance cosmetology treatment options available that are equally suitable for men and women,” says Dr Saulat.

“A dermatologist can advise mesotherapy or certain laser treatments offered according to skin problem. These treatments can be used for skin spot removal, acne scar repair, skin rejuvenation, skin whitening and hair loss correction.”

A dermatologist can also give recommendations of daily and basic skin care products specific for men such as skin cleansers, moisturisers, sunblock creams and vitamin supplements.

Learn to destress

Taking care of mental and emotional health is just as important as looking good on the outside.

This can be done through simple routines like leaving the phone at home, going for a walk in the evening or sitting still in a chair and breathing deeply.

“Learn to take some time out when things are getting rough in order to avoid getting over-stressed or burned out. Even if you have to step away from your desk and make a cup of coffee at work, use the time to quiet your mind for a few minutes,” recommends Nick.

Another great way to let off steam is by taking up a new hobby, exercise activities or by practicing yoga and meditation.

“Yoga is for everyone, not just for women, as most men believe. Men also have the belief that you have to be flexible to do yoga or to meditate, which is completely false,” comments Laura-Helene Kopinski, founder of lifestyle wellness hub Inner Seed.

“Men can undergo a lot of stress and by nature, may not feel comfortable sharing their feelings.

“Therefore it is important for them to learn how to express  themselves and experience  how to manage their emotions in a healing and healthy way.”

Talk it out

Most men tend to keep things to themselves. This is not healthy and can lead to mental and emotional stress in the long run.

“You should never feel that you have to keep up some sort of ‘tough guy’ exterior – whether you’re talking to a therapist or to close friends, learn to let your guard down a bit and talk to people about your problems,” says Nick.

“The more you are open with things, the better you’ll feel and the faster you’ll figure out a solution.”

Go to a doctor

A survey by Cleveland Clinic revealed that 72 percent of men would rather do household chores like cleaning the bathroom than go to a doctor.

Men are notoriously evasive when it comes to consulting a doctor for health-related concerns. But this shouldn’t be the case.

Visiting a doctor even for simple check-ups can help determine early serious diseases like prostrate and testicular cancer.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has launched a health campaign called MENtion It to encourage men to be more proactive with their health.

“Men tend to be stubborn about a lot of things, with taking care of their health usually near the top of the list,” comments Eric Klein, M.D., chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute.

“Our hope with this campaign is that by shedding a little light on what barriers are keeping men from engaging in preventative care, we can then work to motivate them to take their health more seriously.”

“It’s time to get rid of the stigma that a man isn’t allowed to show weakness by admitting something might be wrong – it could save his life.”

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