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).
- 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.
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.