Olympic Gold Medalist Natasha Hastings Opens Up About Prioritizing Mental Health and Motherhood

Hastings, a two-time Olympic gold medalist track-and-field runner, revealed how she prioritizes self-care as a single parent, athlete, and student

Natasha Hastings
Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty

Two-time track-and-field Olympic gold medalist Natasha Hastings discussed how she "finds her flow" and takes care of her mental health with USA Today Sports.

Through daily affirmations and weekly therapy, Hastings, 35, – who is currently pursuing her master's degree in clinical mental health at the University of South Carolina – manages to juggle her busy school schedule, motherhood, and prioritizing her mental health.

The key to Hasting's self-care is routine, daily affirmations and weekly therapy sessions. "We all thrive off of routine," she said.

"I could be in the middle of working on something or at practice and that is literally the one thing that I have no shame in or fear when I say, 'Hey, guys, I gotta' put a button on this because I have therapy.' " she explained. "This is one thing that is part of my self-care."

Hastings made headlines in 2019 when she returned to the track just six weeks after giving birth to her son, Liam. Now Hastings, a single parent, says she believes motherhood "pours over into the other aspects of our lives."

"I don't believe that because I'm a mom I have to engage in self-betrayal," Hastings said. "I am raising a boy to grow up and go into the world on his own. And so with that in mind, it's important that I also take care of myself," she explained. "When he goes to bed at night, that hour after he goes to bed – that is my time and I don't do anything."

During the pandemic, Hastings came to the realization that she had to think about her holistic life, not just her life as an athlete.

"I think every athlete goes through the 'What is life after sport?' phase," Hastings said. "So the question of what was next for me came up when I got into therapy very shortly after my son's father and I broke up."

The track and field star had worked with a sports psychologist as a collegiate track runner, but it wasn't until she began weekly therapy that she began to see the benefits of prioritizing mental wellness.

"I've had experiences with a psychologist throughout my professional career ... but this was the first time that like I got into therapy specifically for me, my personal issues, traumas and things that I felt like I need to heal from off of the track," she said.

As COVID-19 cases were beginning to rise all over the world in 2020, Hastings was sitting in therapy when she learned that the Olympic games would be postponed.

"I'm sitting in therapy and I'm like, 'You know what? I feel like that's what I want to do.' I intentionally Googled Black female therapists in Austin, Texas. Because up until this point, I've never had a Black therapist nor a female. It's always been older, white men," she said.

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"It's not to say that I don't love my program. I love it," Hastings said of her studies. "I'm actually excited to go to class … But it is quite obvious that we as Black people are not represented in the material and I have to get that education elsewhere."

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