Man Power!

Try These 7 reinvigoration techniques to bring out your masculine side.

Let’s face it, guys: Women are better at pampering themselves than we are — much better. Whether it’s a biweekly manicure or an afternoon of spa treatments with a girlfriend, self-indulgence seems to come naturally to women. So why do we men have such a different attitude?

Many men consider self-indulgence a waste of time. We tend to evaluate ourselves in quantifiable ways; if we can’t count it, it doesn’t count. We tend to measure our personal achievements and financial worth, and we feel guilty if we aren’t constantly being productive. This guilt, in turn, emanates from our “developmental brainwashing” regarding the traditional work ethic. Early on, our primary caretakers stressed the importance of being a good provider. The result, decades later: Many men have difficulty unwinding and focusing on their personal well-being.

Yet your health matters, big-time. So, guys, at the risk of offending the “manly” men among us, here are a seven tips for masculine reinvigoration:

Catch Your Zzzzs

If you’re the workaholic type, you may be tempted to sleep less so you can work more. Don’t do it. When your sleep suffers, you suffer! Sleep is nature’s primary means of restoration. To get enough sleep, you must make choices; that often means dropping unnecessary, redundant or over-stimulating activities.

Here are some tips for better sleep: Go to bed an hour earlier than usual. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sweets before retiring. Allow at least two hours for digestion after your last meal. And try relaxation techniques, such as focused breathing and gentle stretching, to help you calm down and feel sleepy before going to bed.

Get a Massage

The physical and emotional benefits of massage have been studied for well over a hundred years. Massage improves circulation and promotes feelings of well-being. It also boosts the circulatory and immune systems in ways that benefit blood pressure and other vital organ systems. Try it; you’ll like it.

Take a Warm Bath

Don’t touch that showerhead! Instead, soak for 15 minutes in bath water that is just a few degrees warmer than your body temperature. For an enhanced effect, add Epsom salt to the water. Switch on some soothing background music, too.

Enroll in a Yoga Class

Yoga is a set of physical practices that include gentle stretches, breathing routines and progressive relaxation. Yoga has been esteemed for centuries as one of the ultimate forms of internal healing. This applied science teaches that a healthy person is an integrated unit of body, mind and spirit.

Given the nature of the workout, word-of-mouth is probably your best search engine for finding a yoga class. Ask friends and colleagues about classes they take. Then check out different studios to determine which is most comfortable for you.

Organize a Spa Half-Day

Before you write this off as too “girly,” consider that spa companies are now working very hard to appeal and cater to men. It’s been a long time coming, but many men finally realize the benefits of full-body treatments. So grab a couple of buddies and head for an afternoon of saunas, facial treatments, mud baths and aromatherapy.

Add Balance to Your Life

Are you trying to do too much? If so, prioritize your activities, and get rid of the activities you can do without. For starters, ask which activities provide you with the most pleasure, and focus on those. For example, if you often go fishing but honestly find it tedious, then find another hobby. Boredom can actually increase your stress levels, and that won’t help your cause.

Get Started Today

Volumes of medical evidence tell the story: Stress has become a major health problem, affecting more men today than ever before. In fact, stress has been linked to everything from high blood pressure to heart disease, stroke, cancer, even impotence. the American Institute of Stress says up to 90 percent of all doctor visits are stress-related.

Don’t wait too long before you do something about stress. Remember, a little pampering can be the best treat you’ll ever give yourself. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, and one for which your mind and body will thank you many times over.

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Joe Wegmann is a licensed clinical social worker and a clinical pharmacist with over 30 years of experience in counseling and medication treatment of depression and anxiety. Joe’s new book, Psychopharmacology: Straight Talk on Mental Health Medications is available at www.pesi.com. To learn more about Joe’s programs or to contribute a question for Joe to answer in a future article, visit his website at www.thepharmatherapist.com, or e-mail him at joe@thepharmatherapist.com.