A Month and a Mustache

It’s Movember, the once and future month of November, aka Men’s Health Awareness Month.

For those new to the change in spelling, the call to awareness comes with an invitation to grow a mustache as a visible symbol of, I suppose, the building of one’s awareness around men’s health.  Or, at very least, aligned action that allows the hair between the upper lip and nose to make itself known.

I figured I’d toss Movember into the pot as a topic of conversation in last week’s men’s group call.  (I organized a weekly hour-long men’s call back in April of 2020.  It’s taken on a cool life of its own.  Thursdays at 11 AM Eastern, free, and open to any man interested in participating in shared connection and conversation.  Reach out if interested.)

On the shallow end, we discussed the endless number of seemingly random themed calendar periods.  For instance, do we truly need a National Cat Day?  My sister would offer an enthusiastic “yes.”  Me, not so much.

A quick trip to the Google to inquire about the different days, weeks, and months will yield a trove – treasure and otherwise – of “who knew that existed?” info.  And yes, you can even find calendars featuring all the days of all the things.

But back to some of what was tossed around on last week’s call…

One of the men brought up the very reasonable question about where awareness of one’s health goes the other eleven months of the year.

Fair point.

At the same time – and as much as I poke fun at the deep, patriotic call of duty that produced National Ice Cream Day – I must admit that even if just a few men step up and pay more attention to their well-being, Movember is a worthwhile thing.

What’s true is that in our device-laden, screen-dominated world, our experience of life has become increasingly disembodied.  Not just for folks on the younger side.  I see the disconnect happening across generations.  I’d be telling half-truths if I didn’t own up to falling into my own patterns of reaching, unconsciously, for things with world-shrinking screens.

Of course, it’s not just the tech stuff that gets in the way of paying attention to one’s physical being.  Most of us have been socialized to override and/or ignore our body’s signals to eat, hydrate, rest, and move in healthful ways in the name of getting other stuff done.

It’s useful to draw contrast between a pair of scenarios.  In the first, most people would be up in arms upon hearing news of abusive employment practices that force workers to put in long hours in poor conditions.  In the second, many of us would give a hall-pass to the friend who’s endlessly busy, stressfully paying their corporate or entrepreneurial dues.  (Yes, I realize one could argue there may be more of a choice component at play in the latter example.  Health-diminishing self-abuse is still abusive, and labeling it as some sort of noble sacrifice like “taking one for the team” doesn’t alter the costs.)

What to do with all this?

Every shift starts with awareness.  With a nod to the men who asked about the other eleven months, I think a fine place to begin is checking in with yourself about your own state and practices of well-being.

If things are great, that’s fantastic.  Celebrate and keep doing what you’re doing.

If, on the other hand, you see areas that need your attention, rather than setting out to boil the ocean, pick a place to begin and, in the spirit of Movember, find the support you need to get started and have at it.

Keep in mind that moving forward might well involve doing less of something, not just adding things like a new workout or nutrition regimen.

Facial hair is always optional, of course.

Let me know what happens.