Studies have shown that our stress levels negatively impact health. Stress can increase just about every health issue such as brain, thyroid, immune, and weight problems.
In continuation of the series on why people continue to stay in toxic relationships, it is important for us understand the impact of such relationships on our health. It is not to suggest that we walk out; it may be good reason to strive to make our relationships work.
We all like to be loved and supported by loved ones. It is a blissful and invigorating experience.
Although we don’t need experts to tell us about this cherished experience, studies continue to be done on the subject. They all agree that supportive relationships are a huge boost to health, according to Dr Will Cole.
Studies have shown that our stress levels negatively impact health. Stress can increase just about every health issue such as brain, thyroid, immune, and weight problems. An often-cited study in which 100,000 people were followed for over 12 years confirmed that the link between toxic relationships, stress, and health is real.
READ ALSO: How to manage stress
According to this study, those who were in negative relationships were at greater risk of developing heart problems, including dying from heart attacks and strokes, than those whose close relationships were not negative.
According to Cole, humans have adapted something called Conserved Transcriptional Response to Adversity (CTRA), and a type of gene expression that is associated with inflammation and low immunity. If you were being chased by a predator, CTRA allows for some helpful short-term benefits, such as increased healing, physical recovery, and the increased likelihood of survival.
However, he warns that the chronic stress of an unhealthy relationship can cause a long-term activation of the brain’s CTRA, contributing to chronic inflammation and increasing the risk of health problems like adrenal fatigue.
Toxic relationships are emotionally, mentally and physically stressful. Some experts call stress “the silent killer.”
They also say toxic relationships are dangerous because although the toxicity may not be obvious, but like poisonous gas, it is deadly.
Indeed, most studies confirm that being in a negative relationship puts people at a higher risk of developing heart problems (such as a fatal heart attack) than those in healthy relationships.
READ ALSO: Common things that trigger heart attack
Also researchers found that women with high levels of conflict in their relationships tend to have similarly high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure and high rates of obesity. Research has even found that hostile relationships can even slow wound healing.
Also, constant tension or serious conflicts in a relationship can keep the body in flight-or-flight mode all the time, making it produce adrenaline and quickly discard the excess. This can eventually lead to fatigue, a weakened immune system and even organ damage.
In another study, researchers found that women with high levels of conflict in their relationships tend to have similarly high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure and high rates of obesity.
Other effects Destruction self-esteem and self-confidence: Our self-image is deeply impacted by our relationships. Spending time with friends and family who enjoy you, affirm your talents, embrace your personality and celebrate your uniqueness, inevitably improves your self-esteem and fuels your self-confidence. When these are high, not only are you more successful, life is more enjoyable. Toxic relationships ruin your life as they are most dangerous poison your self-concept, eroding your self-confidence like drops of rain wear away at a canyon wall.
Toxic relationships consume your energy: A toxic relationship is often a marathon of your effort geared toward making sure the other person is happy. Your mind is always on hyper alter scanning their moods and needs while seeking to anticipate anything that could upset or disappoint them. The time you spend together is “all about them,” with little to no room for you to share your thoughts or feelings, let alone ask for their support. Toxic relationships leave us woozy and weak-kneed like exiting a roller coaster ride; sure footing is gone and our energy is consumed in navigating uncertainty.
Negativity: Toxic relationships are negative. Something is always wrong with you, the situation, their friends or family, the economy, the weather, and you feel pressure to make it better, even when the situation is beyond your control. Your mindset and mood are impacted by their negativity and unhappiness like being slimed like a Nickelodeon Game Show contestant, with none of the fun.
Bad template for your other relationships: We learn by example and experience. Toxic relationships, while unhealthy, can become so familiar that you seek similar ones with others. Additionally, you may not be able to recognize when a healthy relationship comes along. Toxic relationships foster skepticism and disbelief when someone treats you well.
The turn to substances: In trying to find relief from the effects of toxicity, one may resort to substances like alcohol and other drugs might make one feel a little better. But that can only offer temporary panacea. They’re not constructive or permanent solutions to the problem and over-usage will begin to harm your health.
• To be continued