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  • Writer's pictureDr. Dana Seymour

Motherhood and Mental Health: How to Increase Self Care

by Dr. Dana Seymour, C. Psych.

Pink graphic of mother and son holding hands in the grass

As a psychologist, I spend a lot of time in therapy talking to strong Indigenous mothers about how to prioritize their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. It can feel like a challenge to put you on your to-do list as the roles of being a mother, daughter, auntie, cousin, friend, and leader in the the community can take priority.

When caring for others, there lots of complex emotions and little to no-time to process those feelings. Your own self care becomes an after thought and caring for your mental and emotional health ends up on the bottom of your to-do list.

The tricky part is that self care is essential for building resilience and helping you ward off stress, anxiety, or depression.

But with the juggling act of motherhood it can seem impossible to care of yourself.

So, how do you move yourself to the top of your to-do list?

Make a Self Care List

Start with creating a list of self care activities. What activities do you enjoy doing? What makes you feel like you? What brings you joy? Creating a list can be a great way to learn more about yourself.

Here's a list of some activities that you may enjoy doing:

Going for a walk

Talking to a friend


Working on your favorite hobby

Taking a moment for some deep breaths


Making a ribbon dress

Basket making

Spending time on the land

Picking medicines

Watching a tv show or movie


Cooking a delicious meal

Listening your favorite music

Having a long shower or bath

Spend time with your favorite people (Self care doesn't mean you have to be alone - it just means you have to enjoy yourself)

What would you add to the list?

Some of these activities sounds trivial, but can have a substantial positive impact on your mental health. Plus, it helps you get back to doing things you enjoy.

Moments of Self Care vs. Scheduled Self Care

Depending on the phase of motherhood you are in, will dictate how you approach self care.

If you're at home caring for little ones all day with no childcare, it can be hard to plan or follow a schedule. It can be easier to squeeze in moments of self care. Whether it's a few deep breathes between changing diapers or feeding a toddler, or a quick 15 minute workout during nap time. You may only have a short period of time, but every little bit helps and you will feel more balanced afterwards. Creating a self care list makes it easy for you to quickly pick an activity when you are short on time. Keep the list in a place that is easily accessible, like your phone, so that you don't have to scramble to find it.

If you are in a phase of motherhood where you have access to childcare, it may be easier to schedule your self care activities.

Orange and pink graphic for a weekly self care schedule

Pick an activity and make it non-negotiable in your calendar. Just like you wouldn't cancel an appointment with your physician, don't cancel an appointment with yourself. It's important to show up for you, not just other people.

Self Care on Repeat

As hard as it can be juggle self care and motherhood, try to include some form of self care daily. You'll get the most mental health benefits from small and consistent little activities. Sometimes this may be accompanied with "mom guilt" or may seem selfish. But being intentional about taking time for you, even if it's just a couple of minutes, can lead to less stress, anxiety, and/or depression.

Trying to include regular self care can take some practice, so be gentle with yourself if you are struggling to make it a priority. Anytime you make wellness changes, it can be a challenge.

If you need some additional support, therapy can help. Counselling can give you the tools you need to include regular self care, process complex emotions, and help you find more balance in your life. By prioritizing yourself you can continue to support others.

Dr. Dana Seymour, Psychologist, Indigenous Mental Health Therapy

Dr. Dana Seymour, C. Psych

I am a registered psychologist and non-insured health benefits (NIHB) provider in Ontario. I focus on online therapy for stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma. I help Indigenous people to feel balanced, rooted, and grounded. My approach to counselling is compassionate, caring, and culturally informed. If you are interested in therapy, I'd love to talk to you more about how I can help. You can connect with me here.


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