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How Toxic Relationships Physically Affect You

While a good relationship is known to improve your overall health and wellbeing, a bad relationship will do the total opposite. Unfortunately, social media plays a significant role in normalizing unhealthy relationships by pushing the narrative that toxicity is typical for a relationship. Most of us know how mentally and emotionally draining it can be when you’re in a toxic relationship, but what about the physical effects? 

According to Time Magazine, a toxic relationship can be defined as a relationship between two individuals that don’t support each other, have constant conflicts, are competitive, undermine each other, and are highly disrespectful towards one another. A toxic relationship doesn’t simply mean romantic; an unhealthy relationship can include a family member, friend, or even your boss.

Continue reading to learn how toxic relationships can cause turmoil for your physical health.

Listed below are the physical effects that occur to the body during a toxic relationship (via Forbes). 

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  • Increased risk of heart disease

Extended high levels of stress due to constant conflict with someone can increase your susceptibility to different health problems. The Keck Medicine of USC conducted a study that discovered that being in a toxic relationship can make someone more susceptible to developing heart problems, such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, and even a heart attack.

  • Chronic stress

When individuals are constantly dealing with stressful situations, their body becomes accustomed to staying in the flight-or-fight mindset. When you’re stressed, your body produces the hormone adrenaline, getting rid of any excess that’s not needed. The excess hormones can cause you to become fatigued and possibly lead to a weak immune system, making you more susceptible to infections.

  • Changes in appetite or weight loss or gain

Unhealthy relationships are known to lead to lower self-esteem, leading to a change in a person’s diet. These diets can either cause significant weight loss or weight gain, making obesity or heart failure possible health problems in the future. 

  • Sleeping problems

Since sleep is a necessity for everyone, when it is interrupted by extreme and constant stress from conflict, it can have a physical effect on your body. Stress can keep you up all night, which will translate to fatigue and irritability the following day. Physical side effects range from weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, low sex drive, and much more, according to Healthline.

  • Why I Don’t Want To Get Married
    I haven’t always been opposed to marriage. In fact, quite the opposite. I was one of many young teens who had an entire Pinterest board dedicated to my ‘dream wedding’ and watched ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ on repeat (confession: okay, I still watch ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ but much more ironically than I used to). I can’t recall ever actually sitting down and ​deciding​ I wanted to get married but more that I was set on a ‘default’ mode which pointed me down the obvious course of marriage. Plus, a wedding sounded fun, so why not right? It has only been in the last year or two that I began to question my desire for marriage at all. I think this was probably for a few different reasons.

What to do if you’re in a toxic relationship

Now that you’re aware of a toxic relationship’s physical effects on your health, where do you go from here? The most obvious step to take would be to end the relationship, but there are also additional steps you can take as well, which are as follows:

  • Speak to the person

Ending the relationship with this person does not always have to be the solution. Try to have a conversation with them to see if the both of you can come to a resolution. If not, it is time to let them go.

  • Seek counseling

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing a therapist or counselor to discuss your unhealthy relationship. Counseling is a great way to get everything off your chest and receive great advice from a mental health professional.

  • Practice self-care

Good self-care practices are vital to improving your overall health and mindset. Whether it’s taking a nice bubble bath, writing in a journal, binge-watching a Netflix series, or getting a manicure, find something that eases your mind and makes you feel good about yourself. You deserve it!

While no one aims to be involved in a toxic relationship, it’s essential to be aware of the physical effects that may occur to you if you find yourself in one. Be sure to take care of yourself and never be afraid to seek help from others if you need it. 

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