It’s okay to be selfish. The phrase ‘put on your own oxygen mask first’ has become so common among parents that it’s verging on clichéd, but it remains essential advice. You can’t care for others, including your family, if you aren’t caring for yourself. Over the years, I’ve come to view that what I once thought of as selfish is something far more important. At the same time, it’s okay to be vulnerable. We’ve been trained by society to see vulnerability as weakness, which means we bottle up our emotions and struggles. This is why I started The New Fatherhood – I wanted to break out of that mindset and provide a safe space for other dads to do the same.
A low dopamine morning has been transformative. Sunlight before screen light, meditation and journaling all feature in my morning routine. I also live in Barcelona, so heading down to the beach early to watch the sun come up and feel the sand between my toes is grounding.
Opening up is key. But so many men don’t feel they have someone they can do that with. A 2020 study said that 24% of men in the UK felt they had no-one they could confide in. I started The New Fatherhood, a weekly newsletter about what it means to be a dad today, to share my own mental health struggles. But it has become so much more – thousands of dads across the world are all supporting each other. It’s a strange paradox: sometimes it’s easier opening up with someone you’ve never actually met, but that you can feel confident is coming from a place of care and support.
Yoga helped me through a tough time. We know about the positive effects exercise has on our physical body, but men are slowly catching up to how powerful it can be for the mind. A regular yoga practice helped when I was recovering from an episode of paternal prenatal depression. It helped me get centred, be present in the moment and in my body. I still practise regularly.
Start by talking to other men in your life. If you don’t have guys you can open up to, seek spaces online where you feel encouraged and included. And don’t struggle in silence until you hit some imagined ‘bar’. Most likely, by the time you feel you’ve hit that bar, you’re probably weeks or months beyond it. Don’t be afraid to seek help from mental health professionals – talking therapy was a huge part of my recovery.