After input from the Facebook page, I decided this would be a good topic to post on today. Thank you for your input!
Toxic situations. Just about everyone has been in a toxic situation at some point in their life. Sometimes it’s work, sometimes it’s an intimate relationship, sometimes it’s even family relationships. These are situations that stress us out…they go against our moral grain and often cause us to feel “stuck”. In the middle of these situations, it’s easy to put our self-care in the backseat because often in toxic situations, there’s often an unhealthy relationship at the root of it.
Take notice- I’m not saying a particular person is toxic. Maybe I’m naive, but I believe for the most part people aren’t toxic….err, at least they don’t try to be. Sometimes it’s just the person has their own set of issues they haven’t worked through….and THAT is what can cause a relationship to be toxic, but not necessarily the person themselves. Does that make sense? No? Clear as mud? Okay. I won’t ramble anymore…on to the good stuff. Here’s 6 ways to take care of yourself in a toxic situation:
- Pay attention to your feelings. Listen to your gut. Seriously. We’ve all been there in situations where we’ve “felt” like something just wasn’t quite right. There’s a reason for this. Your gut is ultra connected to your nervous system, i.e. you have many many many nerve endings in your gut and so when you pick up on little micro-expressions from people and so forth you often feel it in your nerves first. Your brain may not be able to “process” it immediately, but your nerve’s know somethin’s up. Listen to that!
- Try to distance yourself from the toxicity– this kind of seems like a no-brainer, but it’s not always as easy as I’m making it sound. Sometimes these toxic situations are work, and we can’t always up and quit a job. In that case, try to identify the relationships which most effect you negatively at work and distance yourself there. If it is work, use up your vacation days and give yourself “mental health days”.
- Remind yourself of what is in your control– try the circles of control visual exercise. First, draw a large circle, then a smaller circle inside of it. Next write what is in your control in the inside circle. Then what is not in your control in the outside circle. It should look something like the picture below (I drew up a mock one for reference…my drawing skills are awesome, am-I-right?)
- Treat yourself as kindly as you’d treat others. Think about it this way, if it were a friend or loved one in the toxic situation what advice would you give them? How would you support them? Now, do that for yourself. Refrain from “beating yourself up” by talking negative about yourself like “I shouldn’t have done this, or that” or “I should’ve said this”….let that stuff go and remember to be kind to yourself.
- Self-care is not selfish. I REPEAT: SELF-CARE IS NOT SELFISH. Toxic situations tend to burn us out quickly, this is especially true if you’re not taking care of yourself. By this I don’t just mean taking a bubble bath or getting a massage here and there. Those things are good, but they’re only a small fraction of what self-care really is. Did you know there’s dimensions of self-care? No. Well, now you do. There’s physical, mental/emotional, social, lifestyle, and spiritual. I’ll go more into detail on those another day. But for today, don’t feel guilty about doing what you need to do to take care of yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to get help when you need it. This post is really showing off my therapist side, I know. But I’m serious when I say, get help if you need it. Sometimes toxic situations leave us feeling stuck and not knowing what step we are supposed to take next. And that can make knowing how to take care of yourself really challenging. A trained therapist can help you figure that out- we can help guide you out of the dark forest of nuclear toxicity to a beautiful meadow of self-care. I’m not saying therapy is easy- nor is it all sunshine and rainbows. But sometimes it’s nice to have someone who isn’t tied to the toxic situations to help you untangle it all. Sure I’m biased when it comes to this topic, but I’m not just telling you this from my perspective as a therapist. I’ve also been to therapy myself. It may not fix everything, but finding the right therapist can definitely help.
Now that you have some more knowledge on how to take care of yourself in a toxic situation, will you?
Until next time,