It’s been less than 24 hours (at the time of publishing) since Donald Trump — a racist, homophobic, Islamaphobic, liar — became the president-elect. Witnessing this campaign, along with countless other race-based traumas that have been captured on video, gone viral, and sparked national and international outrage over the past few years, can be psychologically damaging and bring on symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
So, how do you cope?
Dr. Jameca Falconer, counseling psychologist at Logan University College of Chiropractic in Chesterfield, Minnesota, swears by these tips.
1 Write it out.
Angry? Sad? Worried? Stressed? What about afraid — confused even? Whatever you’re feeling, write it down. Keeping your emotions bottled up is not a good look, so grab a notebook and spill all of your unedited thoughts on paper as they flow through you. “It’s important to begin to track what triggers [your] feelings,” says Dr. Falconer. Even better, start a blog to share your views. You may connect with others out there who feel the same way.
2 Interact with other ethnicities on the regular.
After seeing a racially charged campaign win out and racially motivated tragedies repeatedly play out on screen, it’s easy to feel like blocking everyone except those who share the same amount of melanin as you. But tbh, that’ll only make things worse. You want to be part of the solution, not the problem. “Although it may be tempting to stay in your peer groups and only interact with people who look like you, it is not healthy,” says Dr. Falconer. “Seek out individuals from other racial and ethnic groups, so that you have a more well-rounded perspective of the world.”
3 Unplug from social media.
Although technology makes it easier to #StayWoke, watching hateful speech from a president-elect or graphic images flood your timelines all day only heightens the level of anger, fear, and anxiety you may already feel. “You don’t have to be a victim of racial violence yourself to be traumatized,” says Dr. Falconer. “Witnessing the violence can cause similar levels of trauma.” Clear your mind with a walk around your neighborhood, catch a funny movie with the fam, or go shopping with your squad. A mental break from the madness is well-deserved and so necessary.
4 Take a break from educating others.
It’s not your job to convince the world that white privilege is real or respond to every troll who finds their way into your mentions. Yes, educating others can lead to the progress and change we all desire, but doing so 24/7 is exhausting.
5 Confront your feelings.
The “Strong Black Woman” stereotype is not real life. You’re human and you can’t be strong all the time. Trust: Seeing people get targeted repeatedly based on the color of their skin can trigger all sorts of emotions. “You do not have to get over feeling impacted by racial violence,” explains Dr. Falconer. “Consistently seeing your community targeted by racial violence is devastating. Feel the way that you feel and own it.” And, if you feel the need to speak to someone in a professional setting, definitely do so. “There is so much racism, hatred, and lack of understanding about the experiences of African Americans in this country,” Dr. Falconer says. “As a community, we need to have safe spaces to go to talk about our feelings.”
6 Surround yourself with family and friends.
Just hearing others voice the same fears and concerns that you have can help you realize that you’re not alone. “Your friends and family, especially your parents, need to have open discussions,” explains Dr. Falconer. Having people you trust to go to for venting, mourning, and organizing can help cut down on anxiety and worry.
7 Practice some form of physical or spiritual activity.
We all know that exercise can help reduce stress and release endorphins, but forms of spiritual practice can put you more at ease, too. “Prayer and meditation can help with breathing, calming, and focus,” says Dr. Falconer.
8 Join the Movement.
One of the best things you can do is channel your anger and frustration into making a difference. The best part? Your way of contributing to the cause doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. Write a letter to your local congressperson demanding change. Organize a peaceful protest or sit-in. Donate to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. If you’re creative, write a song or poem; or, paint something that addresses the issues going on. Remember, your voice is your greatest weapon against injustice — and it matters, regardless of your age.
This is a portion of an article that originally appeared in Sesi’s Fall 2016 issue. Subscribe here to get the current issue, on sale now.
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