Self-care isn’t selfish

April 29, 2016

More often than not women—especially mothers—carry the load of running a family. But in so doing they’re also in danger of short-changing themselves, argues Bridie Kersten*. 



I remember listening to an interview with a very learned professor at a conference once. A common theme of the conference had been the nutritional care of children with disease, learning disabilities and autism. 

He talked about the science of disease and then shared the importance of healing with food and good nutrition.

What he said next has stayed with me ever since. He said that, even though he had studied health and science for close to 20 years, he trusts a mother’s instinct and intuition over the science any day. 

A mother’s role in life is so often just seen as practical: she is a nurse, a cook, a teacher etc., but what we often miss is that she has been given a gift of intuition that enables her to meet the individual needs of her family. 

However, what’s often missing is a mother’s own self-care. Many mothers I know selflessly put the needs of others over their own and say that there aren’t enough hours in the day to take some time for themselves. 

In reality, self-care is vital to the family unit because it empowers a mother to give better care to her family. 

For so long, selflessness has meant putting all others before yourself and self-care has had a ‘hippie’ connotation, but now we know better. Elements of self-care have now been scientifically proven to reduce stress, which is vital to good health. 

Unchecked stress affects our digestion, memory, concentration, immunity, heart health and energy. So, essentially, self-care helps to improve all these things. 

A mother who is nourished, alert, healthy and energetic can more easily meet the demands of a family. 

Self-care falls under the category of nutrition—or perhaps spiritual nutrition—because until you take responsibility for yourself and subsequently reduce your stress, no amount of ‘good food’ is going to make significant change.

Self-care can mean different things to different people; as a holistic nutritionist, I use a variety of options to meet the needs of my clients.

Think of things that are just for you. Self-care is as simple as you make it. Exercise, making a cup of tea, a bath, baking your favourite cake, a walk with a friend, reading a book, listening to your favourite music, getting a massage, active gratefulness, breathing exercises, stretching, writing in a journal, starting a blog, watching The Notebook or taking a nap. 

To start with, taking just 5–10 minutes a day to actually stop and do one of these may be hard. Remember why you are doing this and the importance of it. When you start to see the fruits of those 5–10 minutes, you can extend the time. Your goal at the beginning is to take a minimum of 10 minutes a day to yourself.

Perhaps one of the best ways to spoil your mum this Mother’s Day (or any other day for that matter) is to encourage her to take time for herself. Or, better yet, why not help her find that spare time in her day by relieving her load? 

*Bridie Kersten is a registered nutritionist with an interest in holistic and alternative health who blogs at


Tags: Salvation Army Australia

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