Survey shows taking 'me time' makes many guilty.

Kiwi women put others' needs before theirs, feel guilty about taking "me time" and believe ageing gracefully is their biggest challenge.

On behalf of Fonterra's yoghurt brand Symbio, researchers surveyed 1431 New Zealand women to uncover the challenges of finding balance in their lives.

The results showed 79 per cent didn't look after themselves properly and were constantly juggling the needs of others and putting them ahead of their own.

Seventy-seven per cent admitted to spending a lot of time making sure everyone else was happy, and 71 per cent considered their to-do list as never-ending.


Another 62 per cent believed there were not enough hours in the day to get everything done. On top of that, 40 per cent of women admitted feeling guilty about taking "me time".

Leading Kiwi nutritionist Angela Berrill believed the study showed many women still see themselves as "selfless nurturers" even to the detriment of their own well-being.

Fifty-seven per cent of women said lack of time was the biggest barrier to well-being, 42 per cent believed they were too busy and 36 per cent said they didn't have enough energy.

The study also showed 44 per cent believed ageing gracefully was their biggest challenge.

Berrill said improvements in diet and time management could have a significant effect on the mental and physical well-being of women. Starting the day with probiotics and foods high in calcium and fibre was beneficial to supporting digestive balance.

"We find the most sustainable approach for improving overall well-being is to do little, achievable things every day through nutrition, activity and mindfulness to help take care of yourself."

Designer learns to chill out

Kiwi fashion designer Kiri Nathan had a big wake-up call after her family revealed they were worried that she spent too much time looking after everyone else.

Alongside the Symbio study, Nathan, 43, agreed to let a team of experts monitor her busy lifestyle.

Nathan's high-end fashion label has taken off since she started it in 2010. Last year alone, her designs adorned visiting stars including Beyonce, Demi Levato and Mariah Carey. She also has three children under 10 as well as two older kids.

Nathan, from Auckland, was shocked when she watched footage of interviews with members of her family who expressed concerns that she worked too hard, did not look after herself as well as she should and spent too much time attending to the needs of others.

"I had felt close to burnout a few times but with so many children plus a business and a marriage to look after, you just get on with it and forget to take time out for yourself.

"It was a big wake-up call for me. I have now improved my diet and have green juices for breakfast and eat more natural foods. I also take time out every day to go for a walk and simply take in my surroundings.

"It didn't take long for me to start feeling better mentally and physically.

"There has been a change in my mindset and I have messages written on blackboards around the house that say 'balance is key'.

"I would recommend more women take time out for themselves on a daily basis and don't beat themselves up for doing it."