Coping with racial trauma begins by acknowledging that it exists. If you or a loved one has experienced it, you’ll likely benefit from support and guidance to overcome the effects it might have on your life, sense of self, and physical or mental well-being. Below, we’ve outlined how to deal with trauma from racial discrimination.
Share your experiences with others
Studies show that keeping silent about racism can result in severe stress. Don’t be afraid to speak up and discuss your experiences with racism with trusted friends and family members. Not only can these kinds of discussions be validating, but they can also help you begin to process your feelings.
Any form of trauma can leave you feeling physically and emotionally drained. Self-care can help you recover and heal. Set aside time for activities you enjoy, whether it’s reading a book, getting outdoors, or listening to a podcast.
If you recognize that you’re not doing well, it’s okay to give yourself a break. Rest and nourishment are essential to your health and well-being and can help you keep your stress levels in check.
Identify your triggers
Try to become more aware of people, situations, and environments that are triggers for racial trauma. Work to develop coping mechanisms for the times you’re faced with racism in the future. If you know that your stress levels are particularly high, it might be better to try avoiding known triggers (people or situations that will force you to confront racism) until you’re feeling strong and able to respond without adding to your anxiety.
While staying informed is good, watching or reading the news is a known trigger for racial trauma. Make a point of engaging with light or uplifting media, watching your favorite comedies, spending time with good friends and family, or enjoying your favorite activity or sport if you need a break.
Recite positive affirmations
Low self-esteem is a common symptom of racial trauma. Affirmations can be a way to rebuild your confidence. At the start of each day, look in the mirror and recite an affirmation that will remind you of your strength and worth.
Activism against racial injustice can be incredibly empowering. Find ways to get involved, such as volunteering with local organizations or connecting with online groups. Advocacy and volunteering are great ways to make a difference and meet like-minded people.
Becoming active can be a powerful way to acknowledge racism without contributing more to your stress. It’s a way to reinforce your agency and do something to tackle the challenges that you’ve been witnessing or dealing with.
Learn more about racialized trauma
It’s okay to ask questions like what is racial trauma? As you become more familiar with this form of traumatic stress, you’ll find more effective ways to cope. Researching RBTS can also help you better understand the symptoms that you’ve been experiencing.
If RBTS negatively impacts your day-to-day life, you may want to work with a mental health professional. The right therapist can help you begin to process and heal from the trauma you’ve experienced. To avoid negative experiences, it’s best to work with a therapist who’s skilled and has experience with racial trauma.