"When you don't love yourself, you're not mentally healthy," the singer says.

By Rebecca Shinners
May 10, 2021
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This video is part of Health's My Mantra series. Follow along with new videos on our Instagram page and share your own words of wisdom using #MantraMonday.

Mary J. Blige knows how important health is—and her personal mantra reflects that. "My health is my wealth," she tells Health. "The only thing that can help us to live a long life is our health. It's the most important thing to us, it's wealth, it means something." 

So what does prioritizing health look like in Blige's daily routine? "I try to train as much as I can; I try to drink a lot of water, I eat a lot of vegetables," she says. But Blige's mantra isn't just limited to physical health. "Your mental health is a big deal. If you don't have [good] mental health, then you're not going to be able to take care of yourself physically, so you have to take care of your mental health first."

The singer, who turned 50 earlier this year, explains that she didn't always feel this way. "This is something that gradually was a process of me growing and learning how to love myself from the inside out. And learning how important my life is to me." 

Blige has previously shared details about her difficult childhood, which led to depression, alcoholism, and drug abuse. After battling her own mental health demons while in the spotlight, she's come to learn that self-love is a part of overall well-being. "When you don't love yourself, you're not mentally healthy."

If you're struggling with self-love, "it's not gonna be overnight, it's gonna take a while" before you achieve it, Blige says, adding that her journey began when she became aware of her insecurities. Those insecurities centered around her physical features, such as the shape of her nose and the sound of her voice. She realized she didn't know who she was—and her insecurities left her afraid to find out. 

 "So I had to realize that it's only one me and if I don't love me and I get rid of me, then there's no more me," she explains. She learned to embrace both the good and the bad. "The things that I don't need will fall away as long as I love myself through everything I'm going through," she adds.

Additionally, Blige aims to be a role model for Black women in the entertainment industry. She recently partnered with Gold Bond for their #ChampionYourSkin campaign, which celebrates those who put their skin to the test to break down barriers for themselves and others. "I would really like to see just more Black women getting more roles," she says.

To convince more Black women to advocate for their health, Blige leads by example: "I can't tell people what to do, but what I can do is show them through the years how I've been preserved by taking care of myself. I'm one of those Black women who do that."

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