It’s highly recommended to keep your distance from those who never admit their faults and turn around to make you feel like everything’s all your fault. This is very valid but here’s the traumatizing part, what if this person is your spouse, parent or roommate and worse still, what if you’ve hard to stay on lockdown with this person(s)? We can all agree that dealing with a toxic environment can be tough on our mental health.
If you’ve been putting up with a toxic family or environment and your escape remedy was to be away from home (either by burying yourself in work, visiting friends or hanging out solo), how tragic it must have been to be suddenly stuck with that person(s) for months.
“Family is supposed to be our safe haven. Very often, it’s the place where we find the
– Iyanla Vanzant
These past fourteen months, there have been reports that abuse has skyrocketed in homes across the world. This is due mostly in part to the fact that the pandemic and lockdown has caused the toxic person(s) to get more restless and irritable which has resulted in them transferring all that aggression to their usual recipients (for lack of a milder word).
Due to the pandemic and the present state of things, domestic violence programs and
hotlines may not be readily available as they used to, but don’t despair. You can always get help by leveraging on the internet or reaching out to those closest to you for support in these times, especially if this toxic environment has degenerated into violence and physical abuse.
While on lockdown in a toxic environment, try applying these tips to maintain your
#1. Know thyself
When in a toxic environment, your weaknesses are magnified. If this isn’t tackled, it could lead to low self esteem and eventually, depression. The biggest trick in the arsenal of a toxic person is gaslighting. They cause you to lose faith in yourself, what you stand for and ultimately your self worth in the bid to gain more control over you. When you know your strengths and weaknesses and are actively working towards being a better version of yourself by tackling your weaknesses, any form of manipulation would lose its potency.
#2. Carve out a safe place
A toxic environment will sap your energy and a toxic person will draw breath and exhaust you. Whether it’s another room, a study or even the restroom, find a place within the house that’s away from the drama and quiet enough for you to hear yourself think as often as necessary.
#3. Win some, lose some
If there’s anything we’ve established, it is the fact that a toxic person is an energy guzzler and you can’t afford to acknowledge or engage in every attention seeking gesture they bring to the table. Stay in control and try not to be pressured into an exchange all the time.
#4. Distract yourself
Usually the temptation to wallow in self pity and get depressed is high, try not to cave into it. Look for something you love to do and attempt distracting yourself with it. It could be writing, watching TV or listening to music. Whatever it is, this is mentally healthy and all round helpful.
The trick here is looking beyond yourself. There’s an unexplained fulfilment that emanates from helping others even when your life is in somewhat of a dilemma. Although self care is highly beneficial, it can never beat giving back to people who can’t repay you. Start a vlog, blog, donate face masks or hand sanitizers. This lockdown period has challenged a lot of homes and families, yet there’s ample space for a helping hand.
#6. Stop breaking your heart by expecting change from a toxic person
Choose you, create boundaries and stand firm. When in a toxic environment, you tend to relegate yourself to the background mostly to pacify that toxic person. Sometimes say no and stand strong by it. They may go harder trying to bend you, but if you keep your stand, they will eventually get the message.
#7. You don’t always have to empathize with them
Toxic people are experts at creating problems. It’s like they literally thrive on them. When they feel that their grip on you is loosened, they try to tighten it with feigned drama through which they seek your attention, sympathy and/or support. All of these are in the bid to lure you back into their web to give them control over your decisions, emotions, and life in general. DO NOT let them.
#8. Set clear cut boundaries
Boundaries are almost alien in a toxic environment. A toxic person believes they possess an all access ticket into your personal space and a landed property in your mind, so they can barge in on you at any time they choose. You have to determine what you’re willing to accept and what you aren’t and also decide when it isn’t worth it anymore. In all these, the inner discipline and strength to pull through should be cultivated. Although it’s difficult, it’s doable.
#9. Plan your exit
While you’re momentarily stuck in this toxic environment and have tried all you possibly can to deal with it, set a date for your departure. There’s only so much a person can take before they finally lose it. It is true that one of the most difficult decisions a person can make is leaving a toxic relationship and that’s why you should set a GO(al) date. Meditate on it day and night until you have developed enough strength to make that move.
Once you acknowledge that leaving the toxic environment is necessary, you’ll be more deliberate in your actions like saving and reaching for out help. If it’s a more life threatening situation, contact the authorities, quarantine / lockdown or not. This may end up being one of the biggest steps towards mental and physical redemption you will ever take.
Whatever decision you take to ensure that your mental health remains intact is a brave one – do not let anyone convince you otherwise. Stay safe.
If you or someone you know is depressed or concerned about other aspects of your mental health, you should consider getting counseling in person or conveniently online through telepsychiatry clinics like Southend Psychiatry.
Cover Image: Curtis Loy / Pexels
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