I’ve always thought the entire concept of Men’s Health Week was a bit of an oxymoron. It’s not that Men’s health doesn’t deserve its own week – it’s more that many of the men I know probably won’t even know the week came and went. They won’t focus on or discuss their health for a full 10 minutes, let alone a whole week! Does anybody else feel me on this? My partner is as stubborn as can be when it comes to caring for his health. I see some of his habits – the ones that I’ve been slowly but surely trying to put a stop to for a while now – and I can’t help but wonder, “How did this man even live to be this age?” (And that age is only mid-thirties, by the way). Men seem to think they’re invincible. They’re aware of best practices, but they just don’t seem to think that those apply to them. Even though it sometimes feels like men are a different species than women, they do know that they’re…not, right? They’re also humans who need to take care of their health like all people do. I try to explain to my partner that it’s not fair that he has habits that could make me an early widow. And I try to explain to him how it’ll be downright infuriating, and just embarrassing, to tell people, if I do become an early widow, that he passed from something totally preventable. I think a lot of women feel this way. Dear men, here are 15 ways your partner wishes you’d take better care of your health.
Reconfigure your understanding of veggies
Ideally, half of your plate should be vegetables. So, adding jalapenos and olives to your pizza doesn’t count. Neither does adding grilled onions to your burger. Or wrapping your burger in lettuce, protein-style. No, the salsa you put on your carnitas tacos doesn’t give you vegetable points. Nor does the teeny, tiny tin of coleslaw you eat with your ribs. Stop acting like this counts.
If something feels weird, see a doctor
It’s not that complicated. If something feels out of whack, if something hurts, if you notice something weird, just go to the doctor. Go. If you have health insurance, then there’s really no excuse not to go. And even if you don’t, you can use things like Care Credit. It’s better to be safe, even if that means paying off a bill at $80 a month for a few months, than very sorry.
Even if you feel fine, see a doctor sometimes
Also, even if you feel perfectly fine, go in for your annual checkups. Get those regular exams that are important for men, like prostate exams. Men need to stop thinking that there are only two ways doctors should be visited: not at all, or in the emergency room when things have gotten really bad. Can you focus a bit more on maintenance instead of waiting to do damage control?
Wear a mask; it’s not emasculating
Here’s a special one for these COVID-19 pandemic times: wear a damn mask. It’s not emasculating to wear a mask. It’s not emasculating to care about the wellbeing of others. By the way, if you’re in a relationship, then your partner is already on board with you, so who are you even trying to look good for, going shopping without a mask on?
Wear a helmet: it’s not emasculating
Here’s another type of protection a lot of men fail to wear. “It looks stupid.” That’s what my husband says about helmets. Oh, okay, well, that’s a great reason to put yourself at risk for a head injury. Much more important to not look stupid while you’re flying by people who aren’t even looking at you, than it is to, you know, preserve your life!
Keep heavy drinking to weekends
If it were up to me, my partner wouldn’t drink much at all. However, I know beers are how he unwinds, so I won’t rob that of him, and he’s a perfectly nice drunk. That being said, it could benefit a lot of dudes out there to not have a six-pack every single night after work. Or three bourbons on the rocks. Your liver needs a break, fellas.
Leave work at work
I’ve noticed that men aren’t great at turning it off. They finish work, but they’re still thinking about work. They’ll let it ruin their entire night. Or their entire weekend. They’ll fume, all weekend, about a meeting that went poorly on Friday. Honestly, it’s not fair to your partner, who is trying to have a nice time and who feels ignored, and it’s not good for your stress levels, gentlemen.
Care about your hygiene products
Please don’t just buy the cheapest body wash or face wash or aftershave that you can find. Care about the products you put on your body. Your skin soaks them up. And a lot of the cheap stuff is filled with chemicals that may or may not have negative effects in the long term. Spend a few extra bucks and go organic.
Avoid any sort of enhancers
Don’t take weird pills and serums to prevent hair loss. Don’t try odd supplements and other enhancers to build muscle. We’d much rather you were alive and a little bald or a little scrawny, than bulked up with a full head of hair…on your death bed from unforeseen side effects from these non-FDA-approved products.
Don’t just do what your friends do
I know that group mentality can be strong amongst men. Three more shots of whiskey. Tobacco chews. Staying up all night. Doing something stupid and dangerous. When men get together and have a few drinks, something comes over them. And the women they love, who are at home, fear for their lives. Stop following whatever your friends do. Use your judgment.
Don’t ask your friends for medical advice
Unless your friend is a doctor, don’t ask him for medical advice. Don’t have Todd check out the sore on your neck. Don’t ask Bruce if he thinks this new noise your inner ear is making is normal. They don’t know! And just because they pull up WebMD in front of you, still doesn’t mean you’ve had a proper diagnosis.
Wash your damn hands
This is more important than ever right now with the coronavirus at large, but it’s also always been important. A lot of men – a lot – don’t think they need to wash their hands after peeing. They “didn’t touch anything dirty” they say. Um…I’m pretty sure you touched your genitals. And not to mention surfaces in the bathroom!
Get some sleep
Men don’t seem to think sleep is as important as women do. If they have a 6am flight, they’ll just stay up the whole night rather than go to bed and get up at 4am. If they’re already running on empty after a long week of late-night meetings and early mornings, but a friend asks if they want to go party all weekend, they go. Dudes, you need to sleep for your heart health, for your emotional wellbeing – for a lot of reasons.
Put on sunscreen
This may be another one of those things men avoid because they think it’s emasculating. But UV damage can happen to anyone, of any gender, of any race, of any age – all humans. Just put on your damn sunscreen. You can rub it in real good before seeing your friends, so they don’t even know you’re wearing it, okay? But better yet, encourage them to wear sunscreen, too.
Talk to your family about medical history
Ask your parents what sorts of medical issues have come up in your bloodline. This is a roadmap to how you can take better care of yourself. This provides useful information to your doctor (you know, the person you’re going to visit more often now). Your parents will be happy to share that information with you if it can mean you live a long, happy life.