Put my mask on first: Mothers' reactions to prioritizing health behaviours as a function of self-compassion and fear of self-compassion


Exercise, healthy eating, and sleep promote good health, yet mothers engage in low levels of these behaviours. This may be due to the guilt mothers feel when taking time away from their children to prioritize engagement in health-promoting behaviours. Self-compassion may decrease this guilt, however little is known about how mothers feel about engaging in the self-compassionate act of prioritizing health behaviours. The present study examined relationships between both self-compassion and fear of self-compassion with mothers' reactions to prioritizing health behaviours. Through an online survey, mothers rated their self-compassion, fear of self-compassion, and read a scenario about prioritizing the health behaviours of exercise, healthy eating, and getting adequate sleep. Next, mothers rated adjectives describing how they would perceive themselves if they behaved in the way the scenario described. Bivariate correlations revealed mothers high in self-compassion felt more positively and mothers low in self-compassion felt more negatively about prioritizing their needs for healthy behaviours. The current research provides insight into why some mothers feel better about incorporating health-promoting behaviours, such as exercise, into their lives than others.

Acknowledgments: The funds for this project were provided from a University of Manitoba SSHRC Explore Grant.