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Strategies for Dealing with Racial Trauma

Minimize the effects that racism has on your mind and body

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Racism comes in different shapes and forms, from overt racial slurs to more subtle, but harmful manifestations of racism like systemic limited economic opportunity. Being a victim of racism in any form can affect both your mental health and your physical health. Racism has been shown to be associated with depression, anxiety, PTSD, memory impairment, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions. If you’ve experienced racial trauma, you can take steps to minimize the mental and physical effects on your mind and body.

This activity will share a few strategies to help you care for yourself:

Seek support from safe friends or loved ones.

Focus on connecting with people who empower, validate, and support you. Distance yourself from those who minimize or dismiss your experience. Have open discussions with people you trust. It can help alleviate and normalize feelings of anger, sadness, and anxiety. However, be careful about having repetitive discussions with the same person, which may make your negative reactions worse.

Take steps to regulate your nervous system.

Repeated exposure to racism can be associated with chronic stress, which can negatively impact your health. Mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation exercises can help. Ask your coach to share a few if you’re interested.

Journal

Write down your experiences, feelings, and thoughts. It may help you move through painful emotional experiences, gain perspective, mobilize to take action, improve mood, and decrease stress. Keep it private, or consider sharing it with others if you’d like to use your story to advocate for change. But keep in mind that sharing your story may open up wounds or create additional vulnerability. If you’re wondering about whether to publish or share your writing, talk with a friend, family member, or mental health professional who can help you work through your decision.

Connect with like-minded individuals or groups.

Find a church group, a local chapter of Black Lives Matter or Los Unidos, or just friends who can validate your experience and offer comfort.

Practice resistance.

To combat feelings of isolation, helplessness, and hopelessness, try engaging in activities that promote change. For example, if it’s safe, consider protesting, create a sign to display in your window or yard, or boycott businesses or organizations that contribute to oppression. Signing petitions or supporting organizations and businesses owned by people of color can also be a powerful form of activism.

Nourish your body.

Racial trauma can sometimes make you question whether you should take care of yourself, or whether you matter. One way to remind yourself that you do indeed matter is by nourishing your body, getting enough rest, and engaging in regular movement or exercise.

Nourish your spirit.

Find ways that are culturally relevant to you to connect with a greater purpose, lifeforce, or belief system. This might include going to church, praying, attending a poetry reading, participating in a meaningful ritual, or meditating.

Listen to other people’s stories.

Podcasts by people of color can be a great source of inspiration, connection, and healing. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Emotions in Harmony Podcast
  • ‘Between Sessions’ Podcast by Melanin & Mental Health
  • Brown Ambition with Mandi and Tiffany
  • ‘The Nod’ by Gimlet Media