5 Ways to Reduce Race Related Distress
by Dr C.C. Cassell
I recently read a post that featured a snippet of an interview with a young Black female college student. The post conveyed blatant experiences of racism she encountered while joining a predominantly White sorority. It ended with her questioning whether her difficulties assimilating to this social environment and making friends within her sorority were a result of racism or her “shy” personality.
Sadly, she described feeling very alone in this experience that is actually quite common among racial minorities. In social psychology, the term racial anxiety refers to psychological distress experienced in relation to interactions with members of another race (1). While members of any race may experience racial anxiety, this experience is compounded among members of racial minority groups who endure systemic oppression. Indeed, one group of researchers found that stress related to race is more significantly related to psychological distress than general stressful life events (2).
Given the connection between mind and body, it is no surprise that racial anxiety and other race-related stressors not only impact one’s psychological wellbeing but also has a tremendous impact on one’s physical health (3). This was noted by researchers who have found that the anticipation of assessment by Whites and other interracial interactions have the ability to negatively impact the physical and psychosocial health of individuals who are Black. Cardiovascular health and other stress-related health conditions are impacted most (4). This connection is particularly disturbing when we consider that two of the three leading causes of death among Black Americans are stress-related ailments: heart disease #1 and stroke #3 (5).
Given the seriousness of this information, it is important to consider ways we might proactively reduce race related distress. Below are 5 suggestions:
- Don’t feed the fire. Take social media fasts. Unfriend toxic media outlets or people. Disengage when necessary.
- Get support. (6)) and his fellow researchers found that social resources had a significant impact on the reduction of race-related stress. This suggests that forming strong connections with others who can understand your experiences and offer support is an invaluable benefit.
- Engage in self-care. Breath. Meditate. Exercise. Pray. Connect.
- Self-educate. To counter all of the negative false narratives surrounding black identity. Do the research, read, and learn from ancestors, inventions, poets, etc
- Advocate. Making a difference can increase a sense of self-efficacy.
About The Author
Dr. Cassell is a Licensed Psychologist in the state of California and Missouri. She has over 10 years of experience in the field of psychology. While Dr. Cassell specializes in working with survivors of trauma, she also enjoys working with individuals interested in engaging in therapy for the purpose of pursuing personal growth, insight, self-exploration, healthier relationships, better work life balance, as well as, those who simply want to improve the overall quality of their lives. Dr. Cassell also has a passion for providing therapy services to others in or entering the mental health field who may wish to focus on decreasing susceptibility to burnout, addressing compassion fatigue, deepening engagement in self-reflection/ introspection and self-care, or addressing their personal histories, inherent biases, or other counter-transferential issues, which may impact clinical work. She is currently accepting new clients interested in engaging in virtual therapy. Interested parties must be a resident of either California or Missouri. If you are interested in additional information about the services she provides feel free to reach out to her at https://itherapy.com/counselor/dr-cc-cassell