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Alicia Keys doesn’t play when it comes to prioritizing her mental health.

The 15-time Grammy-award-winning artist recently opened up about how she balances self-care while juggling her busy music career and her bustling lifestyle brand Keys Soulcare which launched in 2020.

“I value myself now, and I think for a lot of years, I didn’t,” Keys told Fast Company magazine for their ‘State of Mind’ mental health series.

  “I learned that in order for me to be the most productive, I have to be well. I prioritize myself in a way that I just didn’t [before].”

While reflecting on the major success of her decades-long entertainment career,  the “Fallin” singer spoke about how she struggled with perfectionism coming into the industry at a young age.

“I think we all deal with this idea that we’re supposed to be perfect in some way. The same thing happened to me when I was 20. You don’t even know who you are at 20. You’re a little bit of what your mama told you. You’re a little bit of what the world told you. And then you’re supposed to go off into the world,”  Keys explained, noting how ultimately, her constant desire to be perfect had a negative impact on her mental health.

“[Early in my career] people watched [me] intently. I’m a New Yorker. I didn’t want people to violate me. I immediately put up a wall, but I put up the worst kind of wall: the one that you pretend is not there. You think you’re protecting yourself but you’re actually hurting yourself,” she continued. “All I knew to do was just to fake it till you make it. Once I stopped doing that — which I have to remind myself to do every day — I started to feel much more honest, because I didn’t have to pretend.”

Now, the mother of two, who recently scored an exciting partnership with Athleta as a women’s well-being ambassador, said she makes sure to pencil in family and leisure time within her hectic work schedule and she wants all of her fans and busy moms alike to do the same.

“If you have a weekly meeting, or a weekly or monthly video call — much of my company works remotely — or a big board meeting, whatever the case is,” she added.  “You can set the stage and say, ‘It’s important to me that we are not only doing well in our business, but we’re well in our lives and that our families are well.'”

During an interview with PEOPLE in January, Keys gushed about her advocacy work with Athleta and how investing in her self-care has changed her life. This year, the star joined the athletic brand’s Power of She Fund grant program as a mentor and advisor, to help fund women of color with “a purpose to make wellness and fitness more inclusive,” according to the company’s website. So far, the grant initiative has helped elevate non-profit organizations like Black Girls Run and Girls in the Game, a program dedicated to helping young girls discover their strength and confidence through sports.

“I’ve discovered that working out, meditating, physical activity, quietness and stillness, journal writing, a nap, just putting yourself together in a way that makes you feel good… all of these things are part of what feeds me as a woman,” the 41-year-old said.


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