Helpful ways to cope with racial discrimination

By Brandi Bellamy, AMFT, PPS

We don’t always associate race impacting our mental health, but the fact is for a lot of us, the color of our skin or perceived racial identity affects our interactions with others. As a person of color we carry the weight of other people’s preconceived notions on who or what we should be.

Being Black in America we are constantly exposed to the news which reminds us that America is not the place of freedom it claims to be. With each news story about another Black person who was arrested, beaten or murdered, it gets harder and harder to tolerate while still feeling okay. On top of that, we have to deal with microaggressions. Microaggressions are daily communications that demonstrate hostile or derogatory messages to a stigmatized group. In practice they feel like paper cuts, at first they hurt a little and it’s annoying, but imagine having that wound opening over and over again and never fully healing. At some point it begins to get to the point it may become a real injury. When that happens, that is when it begins to impact one’s mental health in the following ways: 

  • Secondary Trauma: feelings of traumatization, without being directly involved in the traumatic experience. 
  • Anxiety: worry and fear, sometimes to the point of being constantly in survival mode
  • Depression: over the fact that that you still have to fight to be seen and exhaustion from fighting
  • Isolation: feeling like you’re alone in this fight when you don’t see allies

A few things you can do help when you experience these feelings and want to lessen them.

Acknowledge and Communicate your feelings with a close adult with what you are experiencing. Ideally a therapist or someone who can listen to you and validate your feelings without judgement. When you have this conversation, you want to feel validated, not dismissed, so be sure to talk to someone you trust to hear you out. 

Self Care 
Self care is a new buzzword that everyone seems to be saying but what does it actually mean? At its core, it means do whatever you need to do to feel as regulated as possible. That looks very different for everybody, but here are a few self care activities everyone needs to do. Take care of your basic needs: eat, drink water, and sleep. Connect with your community of friends, family, and other loved ones. Feel whatever you’re feeling and acknowledge it as normal. If you’re not used to sitting with your feelings, this can be very uncomfortable, but it is a step towards healing. Some suggested self care activities are meditations, grounding exercises, or repeated affirmations. Outside of that, do whatever calms your soul.

Activism
On top of making sure that you are okay, times like these come with a feeling to do something to make a change. When people hear the word activism, they always assume protest, but there are ways that you can be active without attending a protest if that doesn’t work for you. Social media has become an easy way to spread information about how to get involved. You can always donate money, time, or ideas to credible organizations. Making a conscious effort to support Black businesses when you can. If you are feeling well enough yourself, you can be someone to support others by just listening and validating their experiences. If all of that is too much, remind yourself to take care and that surviving is its own form of activism.

Resources

Black Mental Wellness
https://www.blackmentalwellness.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/blackmentalwellness/?hl=en

Buzzfeed- 13 Self-Care Tips for Black People Who are Feeling Overwhelmed Right Now
https://www.buzzfeed.com/hanifahrahman/mental-health-self-care-tips

Therapy for Black Girls
www.Therapyforblackgirls.com  
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/therapyforblackgirls/?hl=en

Liberate Meditation for BIPOC
https://liberatemeditation.com/

Reposted with permission.

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