Are you tired of feeling like your self-care routine does not reflect who you are and has disconnected you from your cultural roots? Do you find yourself relying on Western ideals and beauty standards that do not reflect your values and traditions? It’s high time you decolonize your self-care! By examining how colonialism has influenced our ideas about self-care, we can reject harmful practices and embrace traditions rooted in our cultural heritage.
This article is a guide in which we’ll explore some ways to decolonize your self-care and create a routine that is both nurturing and culturally affirming, so let’s dive in and reclaim our self-care practices. Let us begin by looking at what decolonization means in the context of self-care
What is self-care?
Self-care refers to a set of practices and activities that you engage in to promote your physical, mental and emotional well-being. Self-care can include a range of activities such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy balanced diet, engaging in physical activity, practicing mindfulness or meditation, spending time with loved ones, and engaging in hobbies or creative pursuits.
What is it to decolonize your self-care?
Decolonizing your self-care involves critically examining the ways through which colonialism has influenced our ideas about self-care, beauty and wellness. It means rejecting harmful practices that are rooted in Western ideals and embracing practices that are rooted in our cultural heritage values.
Decolonizing your self-care is a process that involves questioning the dominant narratives around beauty and wellness and actively working to create a self-care routine that is nurturing, culturally affirming and liberating. It involves recognizing that self-care is not just an individual practice but is also influenced by broader societal systems of oppression and working on challenging these systems.
By decolonizing our self-care practices, we can reconnect with our cultural roots, celebrate our heritage and build resilience and agency to navigate the complexities of the world around us.
Understanding colonialism in the context of self-care
You might wonder, what is colonialism in this context of self-care? Well, colonialism refers to the historical and ongoing cultural, economic and political domination processes by European powers and their settler colonies. Colonialism significantly impacts our ideas about beauty, wellness and self-care and has imposed Western ideals and values on non-western societies.
Colonialism has resulted in the erasure of indigenous knowledge, practices and traditions related to self-care, and has led to the adoption of harmful practices that prioritize Western beauty standards and productivity over rest and relaxation. As discussed above, decolonizing involves recognizing and rejecting these influences and embracing practices rooted in our cultural heritage and values.
7 Ways to decolonize your Self-Care
Examine your self-care practices
The first and most crucial way of decolonizing your self-care is to closely examine the self-care practices you engage in and consider where they come from. The critical question to ask yourself is whether your self-care practices are based on western ideals or rooted in your cultural heritage. Identify and incorporate the practices that resonate with your cultural background into your self-care routine.
Reconnect with your cultural traditions.
Reconnecting with your cultural traditions requires you to understand what your cultural heritage entails. You can find out by researching the self-care practices common in your cultural heritage. This includes; herbal remedies, meditations or mindfulness. Incorporate these practices into your self-care routine and consider learning more about the history and significance of these traditions.
Prioritize rest and relaxation.
Rest is crucial for your well-being. There is a harmful notion that productivity and achievement are the ultimate goals of self-care. Western society has over-prioritized work and productivity over rest and relaxation, leading to a culture of burnout and stress. By prioritizing rest and relaxation, we can challenge this narrative and recognize that taking time to take care of ourselves is not a luxury but a necessity.
Prioritizing rest and relaxation aligns with traditional practices in many cultures as an important aspect of health and well-being. Additionally, it allows us to connect with our bodies and emotions, which can help us process the impact of colonialism on our mental and physical health.
Reject harmful beauty standards.
Rejecting the harmful beauty standards presented by western culture is a powerful way of decolonizing self-care because it challenges the western ideals of beauty and wellness imposed on us. These beauty standards promote a narrow and exclusionary set of features and characteristics that can damage individuals who do not fit into this mould.
By rejecting the harmful beauty standard, you can learn more about celebrating natural beauty and emphasize the importance of inner wellness and self-love. To add to this, rejecting harmful beauty standards allows you to connect with your cultural heritage and celebrate the diversity of beauty across different cultures.
Connect with your community.
Connecting with your community is a way of reclaiming agency and building resilience in the face of cultural oppression. It is one of the most important steps toward decolonizing self-care. Connecting with your community allows you to seek support, healing and validation outside Western frameworks. Notably, many non-western cultures place a strong emphasis on community and interdependence.
By connecting with your community, you can help preserve these non-western cultures and tap into these values to find healing and support rooted in our cultural heritage. This approach to self-care aligns with traditional practices in many cultures that emphasize the importance of social connection and community support in achieving wellness and balance.
Challenge oppressive system
To decolonize your self-care, you need to start challenging the existing oppressive systems and work towards creating more equitable and just social structures. In other words, you should acknowledge how these systems affect your life and the lives of people around you and take action to dismantle them. Here are some of the ways through which you can challenge oppressive systems and promote decolonized self-care;
- Engaging in activism: You can participate in protests, sign petitions and advocate for policy changes that promote social justice and equity, intending to empower self-care.
- Center marginalized voices: Amplify the voices of marginalized communities and pay keen attention to their experiences and perspectives. This is crucial in acknowledging and dismantling the systematic barriers that prevent marginalized communities from accessing opportunities and resources.
- Practice self-reflection: Reflect on our biases, privilege and complicity in oppressive systems. This can be challenging, but it is integral to decolonizing self-care. This means being open to feedback, examining our own behaviours and attitudes and making necessary changes.
Celebrate your heritage
Celebrating your heritage can be a powerful way to decolonize self-care because it allows you to reclaim your cultural identity, which colonialism may suppress or erase. Colonialism has often sought to erase or diminish colonized and marginalized communities’ cultural practices and traditions. This erasure can lead to a loss of cultural identity, disconnection from the community and a sense of alienation and isolation.
In conclusion, decolonizing self-care is important because it presents us with our original self and identity. If you plan on beginning a journey of decolonizing self-care, these ways will work as your framework and checklist.
Thank you for reading!
Picture by Angela Roma