Self-Care Sunday Interview with Kelechi Okafor

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Introduce yourself – tell us a little bit about yourself:

I am an actress and director who teaches pole dance and twerk as a way of promoting exploration and embracing of self.

I have a dance fitness studio in Peckham called Kelechnekoff and having people come through to enjoy and learn is a highlight of my life.

 

How do you define self-care and what does it mean to you?:

I define self-care as those actions you take to honour the divinity of your being.

Self-care shouldn’t cost anything because as cheesy as it may sound, the best things in life are definitely free.

Self-care is how I replenish my energy.

 

I write poetry which is my form of journaling.

 

Why is self-care important, particularly for women?:

Self-care is important because it is a way of attending to our own needs and parenting ourselves.

I sometimes ask friends whether they would treat a young child the way they’re treating themselves. The answer is always a resounding “No!”

We are made to believe as adults and most especially as women that working hard is our sole purpose for being alive and looking after others is the sign of a “good woman.”

Looking after others is important but who do flight attendants instruct to put the oxygen mask on first? Yourself.

Self-care is that oxygen mask.

 

How do you practice self-care in your daily life?:

In my daily life, I read books, I switch my phone off and meditate or I take a bath with essential oils.

I write poetry which is my form of journaling.

My favourite thing to do is to speak out loud in an empty room.

 

My biggest challenge when it comes to self-care is reminding myself that there are no shortcuts.

 

What part of your self-care routine is most important to you? And is there one that is vital to you even when you’re having the worst day?:

Affirmations are the most valuable part of my self-care.

Choosing words that represent my intentions towards myself.

When I’m having the worst day I remind myself that it is a bad day and not a bad life.

 

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to self-care?:

My biggest challenge when it comes to self-care is reminding myself that there are no shortcuts.

Sometimes I want to buy a nice outfit as “self-care” but it isn’t really. What feeling would having that outfit give me?

Therefore it is the feeling I want and not the outfit. The outfit is a shortcut.

The more scenic route to that same destination is to speak beauty and confidence into myself and writing down all the things that I’m proud of myself for doing and not doing.

 

It is so important to me that people seek out therapy even if they think they’re “fine.”

 

What do you think are some of the most common misconceptions about self-care?:

One of the most common misconceptions about self-care is that it is solely for white women.

As a black woman I have grown up in environments that black women are “strong” and they “endure.” There is no time for prancing around and “feeling sorry for yourself.”

The cross-sections of womanhood does highlight that black women may not have as much time to prioritise self-care but we need it as much if not even more than other demographics.

 

What tips, resources or advice can you share for anyone struggling with self-care?:

Therapy saved me.

I say this often.

It is so important to me that people seek out therapy even if they think they’re “fine.”

Therapy isn’t about being ok or not being ok, it’s simply about being.

There are organisations that offer pay-what-you-can structures in exchange for speaking to trainee counsellors.

Check with occupational health within the workplace because oftentimes employees are entitled to a set number of hours with a therapist.

 

I would tell my younger self that she is worthy of love.

 

What are your favourite self-care mantras, quotes, poems, songs, books or movies?:

My favourite self-care mantra is a poem by Nayyirah Waheed:

“I am mine before I am ever anyone else’s”

 

What is the most important advice would you give to your younger self?:

I would tell my younger self that she is worthy of love.

 

What is your hope for your future and the future of women?:

The hope for my future is that I continue to move diligently further into a life of beauty and wonder as the person I want to be and not the person I am told to be.

This is my hope for all women.

 

Connect with Kelechi

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Website: www.kelechnekoff.com

Twitter: @kelechnekoff

Instagram: @kelechnekoff

 

 

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