Coping With Discrimination Guide

Self-care tips for discrimination-induced trauma and stress.

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Experiencing discrimination or even seeing it on the news can create symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder: shock, anger, sadness, guilt, or other feelings.

During these times, one of the best things you can do is to practice self-care, and to help others do the same.

Use the tips below to find what strategies work for you, and share the guide with friends and family to help them cope too.

Do you need immediate help or know someone who does? Text DS to 741-741 to contact the Crisis Text Line, free, 24/7 support for those in crisis.

1) Take deep breaths.

Taking a deep breath has been shown to lower cortisol levels, which can help reduce stress and anxiety.

2) Disconnect (aka practicing mindful isolation).

Try to disconnect from situations that might feel triggering for you. For example, turn off your phone and take a break from social media if all the noise is making things harder instead of easier. It’s important to take time for yourself to process.

3) Ask for help.

Find a support group, therapist, or a trusted adult to assist you. Asking for help is a brave and powerful step in the coping process.

4) Hug it out.

Hugging someone you care about releases chemicals that are shown to help reduce stress and anxiety.

5) Journal.

Writing about your feelings can have meditative and reflective effects which can reduce stress.

6) Nap.

Taking a quick snooze has been shown to reduce cortisol levels which then reduce stress and anxiety.

7) Release energy.

Find ways to exert physical energy. Try going for a run or clear your head with a walk around the neighborhood. Studies show that physical movement can serve as a way to release anger in a safe, controlled environment.

8) Focus on nutrition and sleep.

Eat well and get a good night’s sleep. Making healthy choices is especially important during times of high stress.

9) Volunteer.

Helping someone else out can actually reduce your own stress. DoSomething.org is a good place to start.

10) Find or create safe spaces.

Connect with people who make you feel safe and supported, and process your feelings with them. You can also help create a safe space for others to discuss their lived experiences.

11) Rechannel your rage.

If you’re feeling angry, find ways to use that anger in ways that feel productive instead of destructive. For example, playing a sport or going on a run or taking a kickboxing class can help you direct that all that energy into safe places.


  • Cea Ugarte, J.I., et als. “Efficacy of the controlled breathing therapy on stress:biological correlates. preliminary study”, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20617660, 2010. Accessed July 2017.
  • Charles, J.P. “Journaling: creating space for ‘I’”. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21140872, 2010. Accessed July 2017.
  • Hardy, K. V. (2013). ”Healing the hidden wounds of racial trauma.” Reclaiming Children and Youth, 22 (1), 24-28, http://ncfy.acf.hhs.gov/library/2013/healing-hidden-wounds-racial-trauma, Accessed June 2017.
  • “Self Care for People of Color After Psychological Trauma”. JustJasmineblog, http://www.justjasmineblog.com/blog-1/self-car e-for-people-of-color-after-emotional-and-psychological-trauma, Accessed July 2017.
  • Sloan, D.M. et al. “The durability of beneficial health effects associated with expressive writing”, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19333797, 2009. Accessed July 2017.

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