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The Self Care Revolution

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Following both men's fashion and grooming industries in recent decades, with the addition of recent covid-19 crisis, one cannot be surprised self-care for men is reaching now new heights of popularity. Filling the gap on the shelf is a new book by Garrett Munce, Men’s Health and Esquire's grooming editor (and a contributor to Sand) who just published Self-Care for Men: How to Look Good and Feel Great (by Adams Media).

Being a veteran writer and editor, focusing on men's fashion, grooming and wellness - how do you see this industry changed in recent decades?
About a decade ago, the men’s style industry really exploded. More men were taking an interest in fashion and style and were unapologetic about their desire to look good. Call it the metrosexual effect, though that word seems so icky and dated now. I see the same thing starting to happen with grooming and wellness. It used to be that people thought men only cared about two things: shaving and cologne. But in the past few years, more men are seeking out answers about skincare, are more interested in celebrity hairstyles, and are interested in all sorts of wellness topics. It’s on its way to becoming bigger and bigger as more men have conversations publicly and demand answers.

How do you explain that this is the first of its kind book on the "men's shelves"?
Self-care can mean a variety of different things from skincare to exercise to aromatherapy. The reason I felt this book was important to write right now, and why it’s the first of its kind, is that even though we are in the middle of a wellness explosion, there are so few conversations in that space that are directed specifically to men. Men are often left feeling isolated from this world and confused about how they can develop a self-care practice. Plus, thanks to generations of gendered marketing, many of the classic self-care practices we tend to think of like baths or going to a spa are coded as feminine and men feel awkward about them. I hope this book not only shows men that these things are totally okay for them to do, but also that those things are not the only way to take care of yourself.

Where do you see men's wellness developing in the future?
I am so excited to see the younger generations driving this demand for wellness. The more I speak to younger guys and see what they’re doing on social media, the more excited I am for the future. They demand all forms of wellness and are more open to what was previously viewed as “alternative” than ever before. They also demand inclusivity and don’t want to be told that they can’t do something because it’s “feminine.” I think the wellness industry will continue to expand as more people get involved. Wellness is more than just going to yoga class or getting a facial and it will continue to become bigger and bigger to incorporate everyone that wants to participate.

Your book is divided into 7 chapters - please share with a tip or a method you practice for each of the chapters:

Mind - I know meditation is intimidating to a lot of guys, and I am by no means an expert in my own life, but what I did find was that more than anything it helps me give myself permission. What I mean is, when I first started meditating, I would get frustrated because I felt I wasn’t doing it right, so I would stop. But then a meditation teacher told me that’s why it’s called a practice - no one is good at it right away and you have to work at it. After I realized that, I allowed myself permission to fail. Although, in meditation, if you at least try to do it, then you haven’t failed at all.

Wellness - For me, the hardest topic in this section is exercise. I think men don’t often realize that exercise is self-care because they do it with an end goal in mind (to lose weight, to look good in a swimsuit, to be attractive), but if you just reframe your mentality to think about how it makes you feel and how it helps reduce stress, and not focus as much on the end result, it magically becomes self-care. Admittedly, this took me a long time to realize myself and I’m still working on it (going to the gym is not my favorite thing to do). I’ve really been taking my own advice while being home in quarantine and it’s made a huge difference for me.

Body - I’m a huge believer in baths, but I rarely take one at home because my bathtub is too small for me! So I go to a lot of spas so I can take advantage of baths, saunas, steam rooms, treatments, all of it! I’ve been known to spend entire days at spas and when I do, I’m at my happiest. I see such a difference in my mood when I go to one for even a short time.

Face - My favorite thing to do is get facials, but since that’s not possible right now, I’ve been doing a lot of at-home masking. I mean, I always do a lot of masking, but I’m doing even more of it now. Masking is something that every man should do, no matter how basic (or extensive) his skincare routine is. Plus, in self-care terms, there’s nothing like a mask because they literally force you to relax. It’s hard to do anything beside lay down and chill while you have a mask on.

Hair - Lots of guys don’t see haircare and hair styling as self-care, but it really is. I mean, think about it, when your hair looks good, you feel more confident, right? I spend a lot of time on haircare, not just because I have difficult-to-control curly hair, but because it makes me feel great. I do a hair mask about once a week, which is a deep conditioning treatment, and use a scalp scrub a few times a week to give myself a head massage in the shower. Not only do these things leave my head and hair feeling incredible, but they relax me even if I’m rushing through my morning routine.

Spirit - A lot of things in this section like smudging and crystals are things I use a lot, but my favorite “spirit” self-care practice is my daily tarot card. After I get dressed in the morning, I draw a single tarot card and for me, it’s a great way to start the day from an introspective place. Some mornings the card’s meaning is immediately apparent and some days it’s more about something I should keep in mind as I go through my day. But more than trying to divine some meaning, it’s a way for me to start each day feeling connected to something spiritual.

Space - I firmly believe that the physical space around you has a distinct effect on your mental state. I always feel so happy when I’m out in nature, so my apartment is full of plants. I’m constantly bringing in fresh flowers to help brighten it up, too. For me, the plants help me feel calmer and more grounded. It took me a long time to learn how to take care of plants, which I think is why lots of guys are intimidated by them, but for me having even one around changes my mood for the better.