July 1

The Science Behind How Toxic Relationships Affect Your Health


However, the chronic stress of an unhealthy relationship can cause a long-term activation (3) of the brain’s CTRA, contributing to chronic inflammation and increasing the risk of health problems like adrenal fatigue.

Is your relationship toxic?

Most people know when their relationship with someone is not positive, but for some, the toxicity can be so pervasive that it begins to feel normal. Everyone has good days and bad days and all relationships go through hard times, but this quiz can help you figure out whether your relationship is truly toxic.

Toxic Relationship Quiz

When you are with the person, or after you are with the person, do you feel any of the following most of the time (or more than half of the time?:

  • Physically or emotionally drained of energy.
  • Bad about yourself.
  • Like you are always giving without getting anything back, or the other person is always taking without giving back to you.
  • Shunned, an outsider, or otherwise not accepted for who you are.
  • Isolated from friends, family, or others who are supportive of you, because the person doesn’t want you to be around those people.
  • Emotionally or physically unsafe or injured.
  • Fear.

Do you need a relationship detox?

I am a big advocate of integrating “detox” practices to all aspects of life because clearing out the refuse and stepping back from what is not serving your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being will help you find better balance so you can thrive and stay healthy.

In the past I have written about smartphone and digital detoxes to simplify your life, as well as food detoxes to heal your body, but you can do a relationship detox, too. Here are my six tips for giving yourself a relationship detox and setting healthy boundaries:

1. Ponder these four choices you have to deal with this negative relationship:

  • Accept the relationship as it is, and be at peace with it as it is. This can actually reduce a lot of stress based in trying to change someone else.
  • Change the relationship by creating boundaries for yourself. Remember that you can’t change other people, but you can change how you react and what you will allow into your own life.
  • Leave the relationship. Sometimes, sadly, this is the best course, if the other person’s behavior is intolerable to you.
  • Feel miserable. This is the choice that will continue the stress cycle.

Since every relationship is different, these options will mean different things to each person, but I encourage you not to choose “feel miserable” anymore. You are hurting your health and everyone around you by harboring that negative energy.

2. Foster your own mindfulness

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You may not be ready to make a decision right away. To determine the best course of action for your toxic relationship, you first need to deal with yourself. Start consistent mindfulness meditation to bring peace into your life and grow in presence. By becoming more present and less worried about perceived future events or the mental replaying of past events with this person, you will anchor yourself in the only place of effective change which is right here right now. There are great apps like Inscape’s new app that will guide you to grow your mindfulness muscle.

3. Cultivate your inner strength with yoga

In addition to mindfulness, I find that other practices of calm strength can be a catalyst for positive change. My friend, yoga superstar Liz Arch, found her strength and clarity in the midst of a very toxic relationship through yoga. The movement, mindfulness, and breathing of yoga can be healing in that it helps release negative energy, clarifying the body and mind from the inside.

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