Self-Care Guest Blog by Natalia

Hi, I’m Natalia Weekly. I am many things, but the identity I am most proud of is being a proud Black woman. In my personal life, I am considered a loving daughter, caring godmother, fun aunt, and compassionate friend. In my professional life, I am a Program Manager at 1N5 and a licensed therapist with my private practice in Kentucky. I aim to increase mental health equity through advocacy, counseling, and service. I enjoy changing the narrative about mental health and well-being in my community and the communities I serve. I love focusing on healing trauma to empower individuals to live authentically.

I am a recovering perfectionist, so often, my experiences with self-care were waiting until I burned out and exhausted to start taking care of my own needs. I would put on this mask of perfection that everything was fine when I was struggling internally. Finally, I realized that it was not sustainable or healthy. After going through therapy and continuing my healing journey, I realized how radical it can be to decide to put yourself first as a Black woman. So often in society, we are taught that we always have to be strong and can never ask for help.  It has been a liberating experience to realize the self-imposed limitations and break free to focus on the power of community care and self-advocacy. There are vast benefits in learning to set boundaries with my time and energy. I have grown my self-care toolkit to include methods I need when I only have 5 minutes or an entire weekend to reset. It’s all about checking in with myself and not avoiding the hard stuff. I can get overwhelmed easily and tend to isolate, so it’s important for me to ask for support.  There is much relief in asking for help and grace. In my personal and professional life,  I serve significantly in the community, yet I was not using the support network I had created while experiencing difficult times. Community care is essential to my self-care because it truly takes a village to thrive. Belonging is important to my self-care. I love going to free community events that help pour into me as a person and allow me to experience joy, curiosity, and fellowship. 

Through my healing, I realized I don’t have to settle or remain in a survival mindset. I can change the narrative to be more kind to myself. Taking care of myself has allowed me to thrive and not limit myself to joy and happiness. I am abundantly made, and joy is my birthright. This past year, I have been focusing on connecting with my body more and nervous system regulation through yoga and reiki.  I am learning to trust my intuition and take moments to pause. As a society, we are constantly overstimulated, so I try to be international about finding opportunities to be present. I tap into my inner child’s favorite activities to experience joy, such as dancing, playing softball, and biking. I enjoy introspection and laughter, whether listening to music, watching a youtube concert, or hanging out with friends and family.

There are many ways to practice self-care. I enjoy individual therapy but recently joined a support group for Black women that have impacted my emotional growth and development. Finding balance in your work and personal life is so important. I have been intentional about setting time boundaries and saying no that are not aligned with my purpose or values. How you talk to yourself is also so important. I try to be intentional about being my biggest cheerleader versus my biggest critic, so I practice self-affirmations in the mirror each morning. I have recently started incorporating reiki into my self-care. Learning about chakras and healing the body and mind through energetic movement has been life-changing. Lastly, I love hosting and gathering with friends and family.  I enjoy connecting to the community for fellowship as well. There are vast fun and free activities and events in the Greater Cincinnati area that provide self-care opportunities, education, and connections.

Stop allowing people to define or limit you. Your needs are important and deserve to be prioritized.  It’s time for you to start living in your abundance! Give yourself permission to grow, heal, and learn. I know it can be scary, but you are brave. You deserve to thrive and live in joy. Imagine what you would be doing if you were living your most authentic life, and think of one to two ways to start incorporating them now. Find an accountability partner as well, whether it’s a therapist, life coach, or friend. You don’t have to do it alone.