6 Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress and Toxicity
This is a topic I’ve been mulling over for quite some time now. I come from a pretty dysfunctional family and sometimes the stress of everyday life coupled with family stress seems so overwhelming. Sometimes people we love can cause the most damage and ramp stress levels up to a 10. Parents, siblings, in-laws, etc.
A little Background
Growing up I experienced all types of stress from a very young age. I became accustomed to holding feelings inside to a very unhealthy point. I also became an emotional eater and would tend to hide to avoid the dysfunction in our home. Now having children of my own, I realize how crucial it is to set a good example and cope with stress and life in healthy ways. Basically unlearning everything I was taught or saw my own family do.
So, how am I unlearning these toxic behaviors and how am I dealing with toxic people in my life in general? I’ll tell you how!
Healthy ways of Coping
I finally started to learn that I am in control of who I allow in my life and how I let their toxicity effect me.
1. Setting Healthy Boundaries:
Trust me - this isn’t easy and when you first start setting these boundaries be fully prepared for lashing out and some (or lots) of push back. Think of it this way. When a toddler begins to push the envelope on what he/she can or cannot do you set limits. In the beginning, there are probably lots of temper tantrums and meltdowns, but over time, with consistency, they begin to respond and even respect those boundaries. Long story short, once you set the boundaries expect a not so nice response. It’s not an uncommon response and my advice is to brush it off and keep moving forward.
2. Cutting ties:
This doesn’t have to be a permanent thing. Sometimes taking a break can allow time for growth and understanding. Make your boundaries known. If it’s a parent(s) or in-law(s) make it crystal clear what you expect and what will no longer be acceptable in your relationship with them. For me personally, I had to do this with our in-laws. My wife and I stated what was no longer acceptable, they continued to disregard our boundaries so we cut ties for a while. It happens, but sometimes it’s needed.
3. Trim the fat:
Social Media can be such a stressful and toxic thing. Don’t get me started on Facebook! Ugh. It can be such a hub for passive aggressive posts and jabs towards one another. I highly recommend going through your friends list and deleting anyone that causes stress and/or anxiety. Is they are stealing any of your sanity, joy, self worth then delete them. It isn’t worth it. I just deleted a ton of people that I had on my friends list for mostly political reasons. Same goes for Instagram. If there is someone who makes you generally feel bad about yourself then unfollow. You’re a good person. You don’t need anyone stealing your joy.
I’m not sure why seeing a therapist gets a bad rap. I personally see it as a huge sign of strength. With COVID-19 isolation, twin parenthood, toxic friends and family I wouldn’t make it without my therapist. I need someone who can help me sort through all the crap and come out a better person then when I went in. Mental health matters! And it’s so important during this process. We just want the ones around us to be kind and supportive, but unfortunately that’s not always the case.
I can’t control when someone from my family sends me a crazy or stressful message, but I can control how I respond or let it effect me. And doesn’t it always seem that this stuff happens right when everything in your life already seems so overwhelming? When it rains it pours ☔️
I think this part is super important in my progress. Not responding. It almost feels like my father or my sibling messages me in order to get a rise out of me. Like they are looking for someone to take their aggression or anger out on. Being someone’s punching bag is never okay. Even though my parents are in the middle of a divorce, I refuse to engage in the crazy text messages that are usually for the other parent, but are directed towards me. Not responding isn’t easy. Especially when buttons are being pressed. That’s when I am forced to block.
I’ll say this again NO 👏🏼ONE👏🏼HAS👏🏼PERMISSION👏🏼TO👏🏼STEAL👏🏼YOUR👏🏼JOY👏🏼 You‘ve got this one life to live, so live it your way! On your terms! Let them be angry. Let them play the victim. But stand your ground. Your healthy boundaries matter and are key to living a happy un-dysfunctional life Especially when your childhood was toxic.
and finally the last thing I’m doing to minimize the stress and toxicity in my life.
6. Self Care:
Im trying hard on this one. It seems silly, but baths with bath bombs are my currently self care item. I’m going to start focusing on changing my eating habits and reading motivational books. I don’t want to be my parents. That’s the hard truth of it. I want to be a well balanced problem solver that resorts to kindness and not anger and rage. I’m taking baby steps, but my goal is to really ramp up my self care by 2021.
So that’s it! I hope that this post (however unpleasant) helps you and at the very least reminds you that we all have stress and toxicity in on lives to a certain degree... despite what the happy photos on social media says. Hang in there and remember I’m always here if you need someone to talk to!