The year 2020 was an emotional year for the world (to say the least). There were forest fires, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the United States Presidential Election. Whew! In the middle of that there were back-to-back news highlights of violence towards people of color. Hearing and viewing the news coverage towards people of color is absolutely exhausting and stressful.
Impact of Racism and Hate Crimes on Mental Health
Witnessing racism and hate crimes personally or on television can have a damaging effect on people, whether you are of color or not. Some of the things people notice are chest tightness, moodiness, fatigue, nightmares, worries and sadness. Many people feel so fearful about whether this will happen to them or a loved one, that they often are worried while in their cars and even at the grocery store. That’s no healthy way to live, but unfortunately, it’s the reality of many people of color.
5 Ways to Cope with Mental Health after Experiencing Racism and Hate Crimes
Racism has the potential to make the “strongest” person to feel weak, hopeless and scared. Here are 5 things you can do to help yourself and others you know cope with stress after experiencing racism and hate crimes.
#1 – Set Boundaries
The news coverage helps us to be informed of what is happening in the world and our communities, but there are many times it can lead you to feel overwhelmed, defeated and burned out. Remember that there is only so much bad news that our minds can handle at once!
Protect yourself from information overload by noticing when too much is really TOO MUCH. Take a break from the news and social media to focus your thoughts on uplifting and refreshing things (i.e., favorite TV series, reading a book, listening to music or other important tasks). This helps you to reboot and focus on caring for yourself rather than what is painful.
#2 – Practice Intentional Self-Care
Situations like racism and hate crimes can lead others to feel helpless and stressed. It is important to focus on what you CAN control – self-care. Taking care of yourself differs from person to person, but doing what helps you to feel calm and refreshed important. Here are some important coping skills that children, parents and adults that can use to calm down and think clearly.
#3 – Connect with Others
Spend quality time with other people that have shared experiences with racism and hate crimes as you. Talking with others about your experiences and feelings can help you feel less alone and more understood. Community is a component of the healing process that cannot be overlooked. Some examples of community can be your family, friends and religious/faith-based groups.
#4 – Participate in Activities Aligned with your Culture and Faith
The portrayal of violence towards people that have shared race, culture and faith as you can give off negative messages about who society thinks you are. Participating in activities that remind you of your values can help cancel out the negative messages and bring out the empowering ones. Some activities could be preparing meals, viewing art, praying and faith-based readings.
#5 – Advocate for Antiracism
One you are able to calm down and think through next steps, you may feel that you want to do more to address the problem of racism and hate crimes. Advocating for yourself or others is another ways to bring something else into your control.
Some ways to advocate for antiracism include speaking out through calling, writing or filing a report with your local and state officials, placing supporting signs in your yard, peacefully protesting, volunteering in an advocating organization and speaking up when you see injustice and racism occurring in your presence. Here are some advocacy group to join or volunteer with to get started.
Next Steps for Emotional Healing
Many times the coping skills and personal supports you have may not be enough to help you on your healing journey. You may notice that you need more support in working through your experience. Therapy can help you to notice those defeating messages from your experiences, including racism and hate crimes, finding more empowering ways to view yourself and your life despite what happened. A licensed therapist can help talk you through your situation, providing different perspectives and encouragement in ways that you have not considered.
Adorned with Life, LLC provides mental health therapy to children, teens and young adults who are experiencing depression, anxiety and even chronic illnesses/pain. We can talk through your personal experiences and find ways to overcome your sadness and worries, reaching more hope. Although you cannot control the people who have done these terrible actions, our mindsets and intentional actions afterwards are big steps for healing and feeling in control.
You can schedule your first appointment with me by booking a 15-minute consultation call using this link.