Remember there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to feel. People react in different ways to trauma, so don’t tell yourself (or anyone else) what you should be thinking, feeling, or doing.
Some suggested steps for coping/healing:
- Don’t ignore your feelings—it will only slow recovery. It may seem better in the moment to avoid experiencing your emotions, but they exist whether you’re paying attention to them or not. Even intense feelings will pass if you simply allow yourself to feel what you feel.
- Avoid obsessively reliving the traumatic event. Repetitious thinking or viewing horrific images over and over can overwhelm your nervous system, making it harder to think clearly. Partake in activities that keep your mind occupied (read, watch a movie, cook, play with your kids), so you’re not dedicating all your energy and attention to the traumatic event.
- Reestablish routine. There is comfort in the familiar. Getting back—as much as possible—to your normal routine will help you minimize traumatic stress, anxiety, and hopelessness. Even if your work or school routine is disrupted, you can structure your day with regular times for eating, sleeping, spending time with family, and relaxing.
- Put major life decisions on hold. Making big life decisions about home, work, or family while traumatized will only increase the stress in your life. If possible, try to wait until life has settled down, you’ve regained your emotional balance, and you’re better able to think clearly.
- Reconnect with people to the vibrant strengths of your ancestry and culture, helping people process the grief of past traumas, and creating new historical narratives can have healing effects for those experiencing historical trauma.
- Trust yourself, family, and close friends to support you.
- Know that healing is a process, be patient with yourself.
- Attend to yourself with love and self-care.
- Understand that this trauma is not your fault.
- Movement and mindfulness in each day.
- Accept that you are a whole person and deserving.
- Self-Care Tips For Black People Who Are Struggling With This Very Painful Week (Vice)
- Boston University Racial Trauma Toolkit
- Black Zen
- Community Healing Network: Healing in the Face of Racial Trauma
- Proactively Coping With Racism
- National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Taking Care of Yourself
- My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies (book)
- The Body Keeps Score (book)
- It Didn’t Start With You (book)