Being happy and healthy can be extremely difficult when you’re in a toxic environment. A toxic environment can be a result of anything from an unhealthy relationship or negative work environment to self-esteem issues or a lack of self-care. Whatever the cause, toxicity is hard to cope with.
It can sometimes be hard to recognize a toxic environment when you’re in one, and even harder to remove yourself from that environment or change it to be a positive and non-toxic one. So what exactly is a toxic environment, how does it affect your health, and what can you do to fix it?
What Is a Toxic Environment?
A toxic environment is any place or any behavior that causes harm to your health, happiness, and wellbeing. If you’re around people who make you feel small, insecure, or bad about yourself, you might be in a toxic environment. If you feel a physical weight every time you walk into your place of work, you might be in a toxic environment.
Perhaps you go to work and are verbally abused by your boss. Or maybe your partner has a way of manipulating you that lowers your self-esteem. You could even be creating a toxic environment for yourself at home by not keeping your space tidy, not making time to recycle and respect the planet, or not caring for yourself by sitting down to read a book with a cup of tea every now and then.
Realizing you’re in a toxic environment is the first step to dealing with the problem. The next step is learning why these environments are so detrimental to your physical and mental health.
Why Toxic Environments Are Detrimental
Mental and emotional stresses often result in a physical response. Think of when you feel nervous over something like a job interview or a first date. Your palms might sweat, your heart might beat faster, and your mouth may feel dry. Physical bodily responses like these are often directly linked to a mental or emotional cause.
Physical responses to toxic environments or relationships are no different. According to The Guardian, “bodily responses to relationship conflict can cause long-term damage.” That’s right, your relationships could literally be making you sick. Your overall health, sex life, and risk for drug and alcohol abuse are all on the line when you prolong your exposure to a toxic environment or relationship.
When you feel unsatisfied or hurt by your environment and the behaviors of the people in your environment, it’s hard to feel happy and healthy overall. Your mood might dip, along with your energy levels, and you can even develop heart problems and other more serious ailments.
Psychology Today notes, “many health-conscious people don’t realize that the quality of their relationships can be just as toxic to their health as fast food…” In America, there’s a tendency to treat physical problems as separate from mental ones, but a little digging reveals this to be untrue.
The two are inextricably tied. Placing yourself in a positive and supportive environment is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and wellbeing.
A toxic environment can even be detrimental to your intimate relationships. Depression and anxiety are among the top 10 causes of sexual dysfunction for men. Affected women may experience anorgasmia or be unable to experience arousal. It’s clear that toxicity can affect every area of your life — even the bedroom.
Not only can the consequences of being in a toxic environment affect your libido, but experiencing mental health issues can cause:
- Dysfunction as a result of prescription medication side effects
- Negative feelings from both partners regarding intimacy
- Challenges finding and maintaining romantic relationships
- A desire to self-medicate with addictive substances
While some of these effects can be managed with counseling, holistic care, and medication, open communication is the best course to avoid letting them do serious damage to intimate relationships.
Drugs & Alcohol
The stresses of a toxic life can even lead someone to turn to drugs or alcohol to treat emotional, mental, and physical issues resulting from the toxic lifestyle or relationships. These remedies can be highly addictive and can result in a downward spiral in all aspects of your life.
Around 22% of mental health cases also have associated substance abuse problems; it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re not putting yourself in an environment or relationship that adds stress and other negativity to your life.
If you constantly subject yourself to toxicity in the form of relationships, behaviors, and environments, the consequences can be dire.
How to Cleanse a Toxic Environment
You know what a toxic environment is and you’ve realized you’re in one — so what do you do about it? The answer will depend on your situation and where the root of the problem lies.
If the toxic environment is external, like a bad relationship or workplace, you may be able to remove yourself from the situation, meaning quit the job or break up with the partner, and quickly feel your spirits rise. You deserve better than having to put up with people who don’t make you feel like your best self.
If the toxic environment is being created through your own behavior, you’ll have some work to do because toxic behaviors have no place in your life. Toxic behaviors can include negative self-talk, comparing yourself to others, playing the victim, being selfish, and more. If you can work to make your own behaviors more positive and fulfilling, you’ll be rid of your toxicity in no time.
Your toxic environment also might be literally environmental. In that case, you may need to cleanse your home of negative energy. Removing clutter, letting more light inside, using essential oils, rearranging or redecorating, burning sage, and a good cleaning can often make an old, sad space feel new and happy.
It’s clear that toxic environments can be detrimental to your health in areas from your happiness and energy level to your sex life and risk of substance abuse, but if you can recognize a toxic environment for what it is, you can likely get yourself out of it and live a happy, healthy life.
Author Bio: Magnolia Potter is from the Pacific Northwest and writes from time to time. She prefers to cover a variety of topics and not just settle on one. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her outdoors or curled up with a good book. Chat with her on Twitter @MuggleMagnolia.
Image Source: Unsplash
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
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8 thoughts on “Ways a Toxic Environment Can Be Detrimental to Your Physical and Mental Health”
I’ve been in a toxic relationship before. And I must say it was on of the hardest experiences of my life. And I am just now approaching 18 years old. I lost a total of 15 pounds in the 2 weeks after the relationship, and slept for 90% percent of it. I felt like I wasn’t good enough for anyone, and was even lead to violent thoughts of self harm. I’m still working on getting over it, but I can say that I am better than I was 6 months ago.
Jalen, thank you for your honesty and courage in sharing. I am so happy to hear that you are working on yourself and are in a stronger place as well as on a path of healing.
After reading this article I now believe I work in a VERY toxic environment. My boss belittles me in front of other employees and looks to them for laughter and conformation. I also work with someone that’s a self righteous bully with controls issues. I also work with an older women that’s critical of everyone and everything its so draining to hear her complain day in and day out. I hesitantly accepted the job three years ago looking to make change a but it’s been a down hill battle every since and I’m literally losing myself. I have never witnessed such emotional discontent with order and structure.
I am writing a book called Mad, Bad and Impossible to Live With – it is about my upbringing and based upon my life story as a co-dependent in an extremely toxic family that appeared wholesome and healthy to the rest of the world. My dad was overtly abusive, calling us a number of names – useless, hamhanded, stupid goat. My mom was more dangerously covert – pitting us against each other and my dad in a very soft, loving way. People call her a saint. It was after she went off on the Christmas holiday I had planned with the husband I told her I was divorcing less than an hour after our discussion – that I made the decision to seek professional help. My psychologist encouraged me to divorce and have as little to do with her and the rest of the family as possible – confirming that my mom is a narcissist. I divorced, sold my house, gave up my dogs and moved to another continent. At the tender age of 54, I started over and my message is to everyone to wake up and stop wasting time on people who will NEVER value you. Except for my stalwart son, and one brother and his wife and family,I blocked my family of origin last September on every forum.
It has been exceptionally painful. The guilt has at times been overwhelming, but that is subsiding along with the pain as I move forward in finding myself and rebuilding my life.
I have had to put up with my toxic family my whole life! I wanted to leave years ago but I let them hold me back, because I have a medical condition and me being a short man. I put my wants, needs, goals and dreams aside for them for far too long and it hurts soo bad
Thank you for responding to our blog post. You have been sent resources directly to your email.
Hello my name is Kev. I’ve lived in a toxic environment for 4 1/2 years. my parents didn’t support me, they were willing to support other people. they would always gaslight, manipulate and bring up my past. I went through Foster care. they degrade me and treat me less than even tho i busted my backside like crazy for them without complaint. I’ve done Counseling, took Anxiety medication and communicating w/family members and friends and specialist. before of all of this we moved to a different places So I lost a places I’ve felt safe, My dog had to be put down due to Cancer and didn’t want her to suffer so I stayed w/her all the way. Its been difficult
Thank you for reading our guest blog post and sharing. I am sorry to hear about what you have gone through. You may want to consider therapy again. I will email you directly with some resources that would be helpful to you.