Radical Self-Care: Not Just Another “To-Do” Item

Today's guest post is by Kate Clugston. She is a passionate advocate for women’s health and empowerment through the practices of self-care, self-study and conscious activism. Find out more at her website.

Self-care is a hot topic right now, but given our busy lives, how we can nurture ourselves in a way that feels do-able, as opposed to just layering in another “to do” item?


First up, we need to get radical about reclaiming our well-being and protecting the well-being of mothers generally. We need to wake up to the importance of community-care, caring for the carers and women’s birth rite to be committed to their own self-care and self-actualisation without guilt or feeling overloaded.

I’m speaking specifically to motherhood, as I feel the life of a mother is a place where the greatest tension between nurturing others and nurturing Self-shows up. I don’t know about you, but I certainly crash-landed into motherhood and as I was picking up the pieces, I began to feel outraged at how I’d internalised ‘self-sacrifice’ as a marker of good motherhood.

The 20th-century city-livin’ mama, with the career and the kids, is told she ‘has it all’. As women, we are now ‘liberated’ to work, have children AND run our households (though we still earn less than men.) We’re told it’s a vast improvement to the 1960s when a Gallup Poll revealed that a whopping 78% of Australians opposed mothers of young children entering the workforce. The problem is now that we really are DOING it all and we’re maxed out. A recent study showed the average mother has 17 minutes a day to herself. This is appalling, wildly unsustainable and precisely why authentic self-care is radical!

It’s time to turn the tide on the old idea that a ‘good mother self-sacrifices’. It’s matter of urgency that we reclaim our sovereignty and cultivate a heartfelt, guilt-free commitment to our own self-care and self-actualisation.

So how might we do that? We all start from different places so I’m offering 4 general ideas to help get your self-care revolution started.

What Does Your Unique Self-Care Look Like?

Salon pamper-packages, mummy boot camps and green juice cleanses are not the limits of self-care. In fact, if it’s a self-care revolution we’re after we need to be wary of the kind of self-care sold to women wrapped up in the beauty myth.  Get out your journal and write. Write about how you are feeling… physically, mentally, and emotionally. Use colour if that speaks to your soul. Ask yourself: How can I nourish myself? What lights me up? What replenishes me? Radical reflection fuels radical self-care.

Clear Some Space

Take a look at all the things you do. Ask yourself what can be handed over and what can you let go of entirely. This is about doing less, learning how to say “no” and freeing up more space for you. You’re the leader in your own radical self-care revolution, it’s time to speak up, show the way, educate your village and hand stuff over!

Self-Care On The Hard Days

We’ve all had those days, weeks or months that feel utterly relentless. We’re in go-mode and barely coming up for air. We may not be able to change the schedule, but simple tools like gratitude and breath awareness can very quickly help us get grounded and present. You can do it as soon as you wake up or put a “gratitude alarm” on your phone; when it goes off, pause, take three deep breaths, and silently speak your gratitude prayer “I am grateful for…”.

Get Rid Of The GUILT

Whether you feel guilty for letting your self-care plans fall off the agenda or guilty because you’re hooked on the belief that self-care is selfish, it’s time to counter-act the guilt with feelings of urgency for self-care. If you’re maxed out, stressed out and doing way more than your share, it’s time to take a stand. You deserve to fill your cup… Claim it! And not only do YOU need self-care, your children need you to practice self-care and mothers all over the world, need to see you practising self-care… It gives them permission to do the same.

Viva La Self-Care!

Is guilt getting in the way of your self-care? Download this free meditation for working with obstacles, to meet them with loving awareness, and gather the teachings they offer to help you move forward in freedom.


Kate Clugston is the Founder of the Radical Self Care Project, a radically reflective e-course for women pack their own unique “Self Care Medicine Bag”.  She is a Sydney based yoga teacher, women’s circle facilitator and mum of two boys.