A self-care guide for those impacted by racism

A young person sits cross legged on four different hands that are holding her up. The text above reads: Reflect, heal and grow.

Faith Kachikondo is the founder of Empower, which offers therapeutic mentoring for Afro Caribbean youth. Faith is a qualified psychotherapist. She is passionate about tackling social disadvantage amongst the African Caribbean community to empower those to overcome and maximise their full potential. 

Tips for self-care when you’ve experienced racism

2020 has been an interesting year to say the least, a year full of surprises, disappointments and so much more. With the rise of Black Lives Matter, traumatic events publicly happening to black people and more and more conversations on race and blackness taking place, being young and black was an added layer to the already difficult year that was 2020. As this year draws to an end, let’s take this time to reflect, heal and grow.

Racism impacts everyone differently

Depending on who you are, this year would have impacted you in different ways. Even if you felt that you and somebody else were going through the same/a similar situation and your emotional responses were very different, that is okay! We can look at other people, see how they respond or react and compare our reactions to theirs: perhaps you might say things to yourself like “maybe I’m too emotional?” “am I emotionless?” “how come I don’t feel as hurt by this as they are?”

We have all been through different experiences, we come from different homes and ultimately, we are different people; therefore, we won’t respond the same, even if we are of the same race. Be okay in your difference but, also take the time out to understand your difference and see if there are any areas where you need to grow. Let’s explore this further…

Understanding my responses to racism

Understanding the difference between healthy and unhealthy emotional responses will help you know how to develop moving forward. Even where things are healthy there is always room for development; healthy people don’t stop going to the gym just because they are healthy, I want you to think of yourself like that; we should desire to be the best version of ourselves emotionally. To do this, you will need to make the decision that this is what you want and also be committed to the journey of healing and development.

Healthy emotional responses:

  • Being able to identify what you’re feeling
  • Knowing when it’s an appropriate time to express yourself
  • Not judging yourself for how you feel

Unhealthy emotional responses:

  • Hurting someone or yourself
  • Shutting people down/not listening to others
  • Being in denial/being defensive

These are just a few examples but, if you are struggling with your emotional responses, I encourage you to look into this further. Speak to someone; a teacher, a family member or maybe a friend. You don’t have to do this journey alone!

As black people, oftentimes we can be in environments where we aren’t encouraged to express ourselves or our emotions. We can be told off for crying too much or even crying at all, the “respect your elders” narrative can be taken to a place where we end up not valuing ourselves or what we have to say.

To make matters worse, society can give us negative labels e.g., aggressive for the same expression that somebody of another race can show freely without such consequences. This makes it difficult for us to learn how to express ourselves in a healthy way and know what is appropriate.

How can I cope with my experience of racism?

Earlier I mentioned that healthy people don’t stop exercising just because they are healthy; I will continue with this analogy. When somebody gets injured, they take time out, go to physiotherapy and recover. It’s important that we go through this same process with our emotions.


Experiencing racism, difficult family relationships, falling out with friends, a breakup, not doing well in an exam, COVID-19, being bullied and the list goes on.

Taking time out

  1. Identify your injury: Validate your experience. Remember, only you can feel your injury and injuries aren’t always visible to other people.
  2. Don’t ignore or suppress: If an injured person keeps playing football for example, they will only make their injury worse. It can seem like you’re helping yourself in the moment but, ignoring things doesn’t make them go away.
  3. Rest: have some you time, give yourself a break, don’t spend time excessively thinking negative thoughts or reliving situations, do something you enjoy.


  • Conversation: talking is offloading and allows you to empty your mind. Think of it like a jug full of water, the more you talk, the more you empty the jug.
  • Support networks: connecting with others who can be there for you and who can help you along the journey, people who can give you advice and wisdom or even someone you can have fun with and distract yourself for a moment.
  • Express yourself in different ways: journaling/writing in your diary, writing poetry, song-writing, getting involved in a hobby or learning a new skill.
  • Challenge unhelpful mindsets: Believe in yourself. How you speak about yourself and to yourself is important. Speak words of positivity, write a mantra, put it somewhere you can see and say it daily! For example: “I will be everything I am capable of being, I will break through the barriers of society, I will be emotionally healthy.”

Important things to remember

  • Your emotions are valid and deserve to be expressed in a healthy way.
  • Don’t ignore how you feel.
  • Healing is available to you.
  • You are important and of value.

You can do this!

The Mix would like to thank Faith for this article and her support of The Mix. You can find out more about Empower here.

If you’ve experienced racism and need some support

Get in touch with our team who are there to support you on any issue.

Read this piece by our ambassador Rachel about how to be an ally to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Read Simran’s guide to talking to your first generation parents about race.

Read Kiki’s piece about learning to love her dark skin.

Read about Saffron’s mission to create a black-owned vegan beauty brand.

Next Steps

  • If you're under 25 and would like free confidential telephone counselling from The Mix to help you figure things out complete this form and we'll call you to arrange your first session.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.

By Holly Turner

Updated on 10-Dec-2020

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