Dealing with Discrimination
Finding healthy ways to deal with discrimination is important, for your physical health and your mental well-being.
Focus on your strengths
Focusing on your core values, beliefs and perceived strengths can motivate you to succeed, and may even protect you from the negative effects of bias. Overcoming hardship can also make you more resilient and better able to face future challenges.
Family and friends can remind you of your worth and help you reframe those faulty beliefs that discrimination may perpetuate. They can also help counteract the toll daily discrimination can take.
In a world that regularly invalidates your experiences and feelings, members of your support network can reassure you that you’re not imagining those experiences of discrimination. It can also be helpful to ask friends and family how they handle such events.
Support can come from people outside of your family or circle of friends too! Consider getting involved with like-minded groups and organizations, whether locally or online. It can help to know there are other people who have had similar experiences to yours. And connecting with those people might help you figure out how to address situations and respond to experiences of discrimination in ways you haven’t thought of.
Help yourself think clearly
Being discriminated against can bring up a lot of strong emotions such as anger, sadness and embarrassment. These experiences often trigger physiological responses, including an increase your blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature.
Try to check in with your body before reacting. Slow your breathing or use other relaxation exercises to calm your body’s stress response. Then you’ll be able to think more clearly about how you want to respond.
When you’ve experienced discrimination, it can be really hard to just shake it off. You might want to speak out or complain, but you’re not sure how to go about it, or are afraid of the backlash. So instead, you end up ruminating, or over-thinking about what you should have done. Ruminating or dwelling on those negative thoughts and experiences can actually cause more stress and anxiety.
It might be helpful to talk over the ways you can cope with similar experiences in the future. Try to come up with a plan for how you might respond or what you could do differently next time. Once you’ve determined how to respond, try to leave the incident behind you as you go on with your day.
Seek professional help
Discrimination is difficult to deal with on your own, and is often associated with symptoms of depression. A mental health professional can help you manage symptoms of stress and depression, and can help you find healthy ways to cope.
If you are a student and you are experiencing discrimination or are concerned that your friend is being discriminated against, our NormanAid Wellness Counselors can provide further education, resources and counseling.
For immediate support, visit our Crisis Resources.