At 12-years-old, NeeJay Sherman began her pageantry career in the National American Miss competition and continued to compete as she navigated womanhood.
Though she knows there are common misconceptions around the pageant world as being superficial, she credits her journey and her mother for molding her into a woman of purpose. Mastering the public speaking and social impact categories of pageant life molded NeeJay into the mental health advocate and author she is today.
“Self-care is so vital and has become a buzzword in today’s society,” said the “Broken To Peace” novelist about the importance of self-care in her day-to-day routine. “I’ve realized more than ever over the last 6 months how necessary it is to give yourself the dedicated time that you deserve.”
HelloBeautiful caught up with the former pageant queen and television personality about being at her best emotional and physical state through self-care, her nighttime beauty routine (including a Lavender epsom salt bath with a glass of wine), the sudden loss of her mother’s impact on her mental health and teaching young girls to love themselves.
On the top three ways she implements self-care:
Taking a break. I had to learn this the hard way because I overwork myself without rewarding myself too often. Taking a time out with my fave cup of Lipton’s Turmeric herbal tea with ginger and tea to relax and re-energize has really made a huge difference in my day-to-day mood.
Logging off social media. I had to learn that it is okay to take a step back and take a break from social media if I need to for my sanity. My mental health and well-being has to come first because it’s a really scary and disturbing world right now.
Listening to a bomb playlist helps me stay positive and motivated! From Jhene Aiko to SZA and playing Nipsey Hussle’s “Dedication” while working keeps me focused on my goals or whatever it is that I’m trying to conquer that day.
On her must-have beauty routine products:
Beauty By Earth’s Healing Bath Bomb: I try to use vegan and products with natural ingredients as much as I can. This is one of my favorite bath bomb bundles!
Kiehl’s Since 1851 Midnight Recovery Concentrate: I love using a jade roller fresh out the freezer to roll in my oil on my face and neck.
ACURE Radically Rejuvenating Whipped Night Cream: I honestly use everything from their brand from their cleanser, their serums, to their masks but the whipped night cream is a must have! It’s so hydrating and works perfectly for combination skin!
KNC Beauty All Natural Retinol Infused Eye Mask: I tend to get dark under eyes, especially after a long day so I love being able to put these on at night. I know I’m not supposed to, but sometimes I fall asleep with them on. They really make a difference in brightening my under eyes.
On what makes her feel most beautiful:
What truly makes me feel the most beautiful, inside and out is walking in my purpose and being in alignment with who I really am. I truly believe that when you are in true alignment you glow differently and it radiates from within. I’m in a season of my life where I am working on a better version of myself – mentally, physically, and emotionally. The better you take care of yourself, the better you feel, and the better you feel, the higher you vibrate, and the higher you vibrate, the faster you’re aligning with your higher self and manifesting in your own lane.
On her definition of self-care and self-love:
Self-care is so intentional [and] means taking responsibility for yourself to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle; self-love is a daily commitment. I tend to always put people before myself and I had to come to the realization that I have to take care of myself before I can take care of anyone else. With self-love, you are your first priority. After losing my mother to cancer four years ago, it really emphasized the importance of both self-care and self-love. You can’t neglect your mind, your body, and your soul.
On when she started practicing self-love:
It really took a world pandemic for me to genuinely practice self-love. I honestly couldn’t have imagined this would’ve been the cause for me to practice self-love. This pandemic has forced me to truly reflect and be honest with myself. I had nothing but time to invest in self-care, self-love, and self-improvement. I was able to really purify and strengthen my spirit. I was able to fall in love with myself again. Before the pandemic, I really felt lost in my identity and as crazy as it may sound, through this economic crisis I was able to really focus on what’s important to me in life.
On mental health advocacy:
Mental health awareness [and] mental health advocacy is vital. It’s something that people really do go through, and it is so stigmatized. After the loss of my mom and heartbreak from my first love within the same time frame, I really suffered from anxiety, depression, codependency, and suicidal thoughts. Having been there, I have a sense of perspective so I want to use my voice to shine a light on the topic. It’s something that I used to be embarrassed about, but I realized the importance of it especially within our community. My goal as a mental health advocate is to help us rethink how we think, for the sake of the better health of all of us. As my team and I are evolving “Broken to Peace,” we are aiming to create a safe community for those who are or have battled mental health and to amplify their voices.
On “Broken To Peace”:
During my sophomore year of college, my life took a turn for the worse when I lost my mother suddenly to Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer ten days after being diagnosed. I began writing personal anecdotes in my iPhone notes to express how I was feeling as I grieved. Then, I had a terrible break up about a year later so I started writing about that also. It became a coping mechanism for me because I didn’t necessarily have an outlet to express my feelings to. Three years into writing as I was healing and I realized that I actually had a thought-provoking and enlightening body of work that could help others who may also be experiencing what I was.
Without even realizing in the beginning, “Broken to Peace” was written with intentions to inspire and empower others to rise up from their pain and despair, and step up into their light. I want to impact others’ lives positively, to provide encouragement, share motivation, and be a guiding light—to remind others to never give up in the face of challenging circumstances and testing times.
On her advice to young Black girls:
It is up to us to instill self-love in our young Black girls because it all starts in our early years. It is so important to teach young black girls about self-love and self-care in a world that takes us for granted. To all the young black girls reading this article, my advice to you is to hold yourself, love yourself, care for yourself black girl, don’t let them make you think you don’t deserve peace or joy. You’re beautiful. You’re resilient. Stand in your power with confidence knowing that every day you can choose to be better than the last.