Processing Trauma and Pursuing Self-Care

Davia Roberts is a licensed therapist, documentarian, community organizer, and wellness blogger based in Austin, TX. She launched Redefine Enough in July 2015 with the intention of inspiring other women to redefine "good enough."

With the current political climate and steady flow of injustices being reported, professionals of color in a predominately white office space can find themselves incredibly alone. Davia shares some tips on how Black professionals can handle trauma and still function in the workplace, regardless of their work environment. 

Step away from the computer

Our consumption of things like aggressive posts, interviews driven by racism and bigotry, bloody images of slain Black and Brown bodies re-traumatizes us, further complicating our pain as we try to process and grieve. While we can’t control the images that come across our timelines and news feeds, we can make a deliberate choice to disconnect for a period of time.

Social media has become one of the most impactful news sources for many. While we’re able to have more information available, we’re exposed to more hate speech and blatant racism through online platforms. The desire to express outrage about police brutality and racism can be met with microaggressions and dismissive comments from people you once considered “friends.” The need to defend causes like the #BlackLivesMatter movement becomes your own self-defense as you argue your right to live freely. As simple as this concept seems, it drains your energy when you have to do it over and over again. It’s okay to step away for your own mental health’s sake.

Take time away from the office, if possible.

If you’re in a place of privilege where you’re able to take time away from the office, do it. Give yourself time to be in an environment that feels safe to you, whether it’s at home, church, or therapist’s office. Do what you need.

For those without the ability to access time off, be deliberate about how you use your space. Close the door to your office if you need time to yourself. If you have a cubicle, plug in your headphones and place a sign near your desk that says, “Do not disturb. Trying to meet deadline.” Be mindful that you can engage in self-care practices at work such as going for a walk around the building, meditating at your desk, or breathing exercises when you feel yourself becoming activated by an insensitive comment by a colleague or news of another tragedy.

Meet with other professionals who are POC in community

Seek out professional organizations like local Urban Leagues that may hold events for people of color to unite. At the very least, you’ll likely connect with other POC who are able to understand and empathize with the difficulty one faces in a predominantly white workplace.

When the situation involves death or a serious loss, allow yourself the moment to grieve

You do not have to buy the false logic that says you have to be “strong.” You are allowed to hurt and feel pain. Allow yourself the space to grieve, mourn, and be human...even when others fail to recognize your humanity.

Seek professional support

In the midst of a possibly hostile work environment, find a space that allows you to process with a professional who will be supportive as you experience a wide spectrum of emotions. While some corporations provide licensed therapists for employees, choose a clinician who you trust will understand your experience without the fear that session content will not be shared with your employer. Find safety...your mental health depends on it.