Ryan Gosling as Ken in 'Barbie.'Share on Pinterest
Like Ryan Gosling’s Ken in the ‘Barbie’ movie, health experts say finding your ‘kenergy’ can help you live a happier, healthier life. Image Provided by Warner Bros
  • Since the release of the Barbie movie, the word ‘kenergy’ has made its way into pop culture vernacular.
  • The word describes the confidence, energy, and self-belief that Barbie’s boyfriend Ken seems to embody in the film.
  • Health experts say there are many ways you can find your ‘kenergy’ from attending checkups with your doctor and getting better quality sleep to eating a healthier diet and practicing self-belief.

Director Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie has been a talking point for months with many people discussing everything about the film from its powerful performances to its positive messages for women … and men.

In fact, Ryan Gosling’s Ken seems to be emerging as an unlikely icon of the film, who learns to embrace his ‘kenergy.’

What is ‘kenergy?’

Gosling coined the phrase to describe all the attributes the character of Ken embodies, which is basically a person who looks after themselves mentally and physically, doesn’t take themselves too seriously, and isn’t afraid to partake in conventionally feminine things.

In other words, it’s a model of positive masculinity that prioritizes mental, physical, and social health.

Health experts say finding your own ‘kenergy’ can be a fun way to view forming healthy habits in all aspects of your life and the following are 6 simple ways to do it.

When was the last time you went for a check-up?

Studies have found that many men think they’re healthier than they are, with a survey conducted by The Harris Poll for Orlando Health found that one-third of men skip annual exams.

Dr. Mandy Liedeman, a family doctor at Your Doctors Online, says regular checkups are important in terms of early detection, prevention, and improved health outcomes.

“Men should schedule regular check-ups with their primary care physician or healthcare provider, and setting reminders can help you do that,” says Liedeman. “You need to step out of the cultural norms and make it a priority.”

“Generally, an annual check-up is recommended for adults, but men with specific health conditions or risk factors may need more frequent visits,” Liedeman adds.

Research suggests that more than a third of US adults sleep less than seven hours a night on average, and approximately one in five men have insomnia.

So what can you do to get a better night’s sleep?

Establishing a consistent sleep schedule by waking up and going to bed at the same time every night (even on weekends) is a good place to start.

Limiting your screen time before bed is also important.

Liedeman says you can replace screen time with activities like reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation exercises if they help you nod off quicker.

Sometimes it’s our worries that keep us up at night. If this is the case, Liedeman recommends stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, or yoga to relax the mind before bedtime.

Liedeman also suggests that listening to brown noise or white noise sounds may also help calm your mind and induce sleep.

Research has shown that approximately 40% of men won’t talk about their mental health.

“Men are given a gendered template that tells them from a young age that ‘boys don’t cry’. Because of this, boys often fail to understand, label, and regulate their emotions,” explains psychotherapist Dr. Kathrine McAleese.

Add to that, there’s also the notion that reaching out for support somehow makes you less masculine.

For McAleese, good mental health starts with the basics, like diet, exercise, sleep, and hydration. It’s also about making use of your downtime and striking a work-life balance.

She advises having at least one full day a week to completely switch off from work.

Another way to give your mental health a boost? Doing stuff that feels fun and restorative for you – something Ken is great at.

“Ask yourself: When do I feel rejuvenated and like I’m really living?” McAleese advises. “Start incorporating more of that into your life. If you’re only doing things that are depleting your energy or killing your confidence, you’re not in balance.”

The beliefs around men’s mental health may have prevented you from looking after yourself in the past, but McAleese believes minding your mental health doesn’t have to be dramatic.

“Seemingly small steps can have a profound impact,” she says. “Try taking social media apps off your phone for a week and see how you feel. Get an early night. Go for a hike in the woods or walk a beach, and see if you feel any different.”

Crucially, don’t be afraid to reach out to others for support when you need it.

If you’ve watched the Barbie movie, you’ll know that Ken is a character that doesn’t take himself too seriously, something which requires confidence and self-belief. He’s also happy to sit back and let Barbie take the lead.

So, how can you make like Ken and develop a strong sense of self-belief?

First things first, pay attention to your thoughts, advises McAleese.

“If you find yourself using more words that put you down than encourage you, heads up, that needs to be adjusted. I’m not encouraging you to be arrogant. I am encouraging you not to be a jerk to yourself,” she says.

McAleese believes positive self-talk is crucial.

“If you don’t want to sabotage yourself, at least cut out all the ‘stupid’ ‘useless’ ‘failure’ language. It isn’t serving you,” she warns.

The company you keep can influence the way you see yourself as well. McAleese notes that there are a lot of harmful societal messages about how men should behave, and these can be exacerbated by the people you interact with both online and off.

Have a look at your social circle and decide whether they’re helping or hindering you in being your best self.

Aside from his bright blonde hair and chiseled physique, Ken also has impeccable skin. However, according to a 2022 study, many men are embarrassed to use skincare products, with the study authors concluding that male grooming products are a form of invisible consumption.

Looking after your skin is nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, it’s vital to maintain good skin health and to fend off issues like dryness, acne, and skin cancer.

Fortunately, you don’t need a 20-step routine to see results. For skin like Ken’s, wash with a gentle cleanser morning and night and apply moisturizer daily.

You might also like to add a serum to your routine to address specific concerns such as dehydration, redness, or clogged pores.

Make sure you apply SPF 30 (or above) every day too. It protects your skin against skin cancer and prevents premature aging.

Most of us know the importance of eating a healthy diet. But did you know that women tend to report a healthier diet than men, according to a study published in 2020?

“Unhealthy eating habits, such as high intake of processed foods, sugars, and unhealthy fats, can lead to weight gain, obesity, and cardiovascular issues like heart diseases and high blood pressure,” says Liedeman.

Overhauling your diet may feel intimidating, but making small, sustainable changes can really make a difference. A great place to start is looking at your current diet and aiming to replace sugary, over-processed foods, with unprocessed alternatives.

Liedeman suggests swapping out red meats for lean protein sources such as poultry, fish, and legumes and limiting your intake of soda. She also recommends choosing whole grains over refined grains.

An easy way to improve the healthfulness of your diet is to add one portion of fruit or vegetables to every meal.

This should help you hit the recommendation of eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and give you the one thing Ken has in spades: energy.