What Is Racial Battle Fatigue?

Experiencing racism on a regular basis can drain your physical, mental and emotional energy. This experience is described as racial battle fatigue.

Racism takes a big toll on well-being. The term racial battle fatigue was first used to describe the experiences of Black students who attended majority white schools. However, it can be experienced in many settings and by other racially oppressed communities.

Causes of Racial Battle Fatigue

  • Oppression: Cruel or unjust treatment that has gone on for a long time.
  • Racism: Unjust treatment of someone based on their race(s). Stems from the belief that one race is naturally better than another.
  • Discrimination: Unjust treatment of someone of a different social identity such as race, sex or class.
  • Microaggressions: Indirect, subtle or unintentional unjust treatment of a person with a marginalized identity. Some examples include:
    • Sharing a discriminatory joke and saying, “I was just joking.”
    • Someone assuming what you like or don’t like such as certain foods, music or activities based on racial stereotypes.
    • Being told racism doesn’t exist in society today.
  • Macroaggressions: Unjust treatment directed at all members of a group that is marginalized. Some examples include:
    • Being excluded from media like movies or TV.
    • Being restricted to live in under-resourced neighborhoods by policies and laws.
    • Building landfills and allowing other polluters in under-resourced neighborhoods.


How to Deal With Racial Battle Fatigue

Stand up against oppression, racism, discrimination, microaggressions and macroagressions to lessen the stress brought on from these acts. Challenging the act may not get rid of the stress, but it can make the stress less intense.

It’s also important to take care of yourself, mentally and physically, to combat the effects of racial battle fatigue. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Coping in the moment

Try the Breathing Box technique:

  1. Inhale through your nose to the count of four.
  2. Hold the breath in for four seconds.
  3. Exhale through your nose to the count of four.
  4. Hold for four seconds.

Repeat this grounding practice five times to settle your nervous system.

Stand up against oppression

If you experience unfair treatment (like discrimination or racism), or if you see someone else experiencing with racism, call out the unfair act or talk to a trusted adult.

Seek out healthy spaces

Be with people and in places that make you feel safe. If a person, place or group feels unhealthy for you, set boundaries about when, how often or if you choose to seek them out.

Maintain a healthy social support network

Connect with others who have dealt with similar racial battle fatigue experiences as you and support one another. You can also use this activity to reflect on who is in your support network.

Healing practices

Our day-to-day lives are full of naturally healing activities. These can look different for everyone. Try out your personal, familial or community healing practices and see what works for you. Some examples may include:

  • sharing a meal
  • time in nature
  • talking with peers or elders
  • gathering together
  • spiritual or faith practices.


If you don’t feel confident in your ability to handle the racial battle fatigue you’re feeling on your own, talk to a trusted adult about the possibility of working with a mental health practitioner. Check out this resource on seeking mental health services and support under the age of 18.

Engage in regular physical exercise

De-stress through exercise. This may include going for a walk, playing sports with friends, or going for a jog. You can also incorporate mindfulness into your physical activity by going for a mindful walk or practicing other forms of mindful movement.

Get enough sleep each night

Sleep is one of the most important healthy practices you can do for your body. Here are some tips to help you get better sleep! You might also try using the sleep tracker to monitor your sleep.


Many people find that challenging and stopping racism are important parts of coping with and healing from racism. After taking care of yourself, you can look for opportunities to participate in advocacy through groups and events in your community, school, or at the state or federal level.

Change to Chill Has More Tips On How to Deal with Racial Battle Fatigue

If you’re dealing with racial battle fatigue and/or have in addition to other mental health concerns, like anxiety or depression, Change to Chill has more helpful resources for you. Explore our site to find more healthy ways to cope with hard feelings and do what works for you.