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Mood Hoovers. Emotional Vampires. We’ve all met them. Whether it’s a colleague at work, your boss, that demanding client, friends, a family member or even a partner. You’ll recognise them by that sinking feeling when you’re with them or the way that you feel depleted after spending any length of time in their company. Maybe just thinking about them leaves you feeling low. They drain you. They sap your energy. You’ll feel like crap after they’ve offloaded their emotional junk on you. It takes time to re-balance and find your equilibrium again after they’ve gone. Negative encounters are part of life. But what if you find yourself surrounded by them?

Toxic or not?

If you can answer ‘Yes’ to the following statements it may be time for a toxicity check;

You feel fatigued after being with them
The negative things that they say reverberate inside your head after they’ve left
They don’t support you
You feel dismissed or belittled by them
They leave you feeling ‘less’ than you did beforehand
You are always the one giving
They constantly put you down 
Their narrative is always negative
You feel insecure after spending time with them & constantly self censor
There is an abuse of power or control in the relationship
Interaction is characterised by criticism or passive aggression
You don’t feel safe around them

Just thinking about them lowers your mood

If you answered ‘Yes’, there may be more at stake than hurt feelings for you. Your relationships may just be killing you softly.

Negative Relationships & Heart Health

We all know the link between diet, exercise and wellbeing but did you know that the toxic relationships in your life may be seriously damaging your health? The UCL Whitehall II Study has followed 10,000 participants, examining stress and health in their sample population. Now in it’s 32nd year, researchers have been investigating the impact of negative relationships upon heart health.

Participants were asked to identify their closest relationships, classifying them as either negative or positive with researchers examining the long term impact. The results were alarming. Not only did toxic relationships affect the daily mood of participants, the research team discovered that negativity may also adversely impact both mental and physical health.

The data demonstrated that positive relationships providing reassurance and support bolstered self esteem, contributing to overall wellbeing. Toxic relationships resulted in the opposite; stress, anxiety, depression, Type II diabetes and other health problems. Participants identifying their close personal relationships as negative were at greater risk of cardiac issues, including a fatal cardiac event than their counterpats. What’s more, women and participants with a lower social standing were more likely to have negative relationships.

Protect Your Heart

If you’ve identified a toxic relationship and want to safeguard your wellbeing consider the following steps;

  • Ask yourself if you really want this person in your life. It may simply be time to move on.
  • If it’s a work related relationship, address it. Use the assertion script below. Reduce interaction where possible. If that’s not feasible consider your options. It might be time to move on.
  • If it’s a friendship or family member, decrease or limit the amount of time you spend with them. Consider making changes to your social circle where necessary
  • If your negative relationship is a significant other (and it’s safe to do so), talk to them, show them this article, discuss the impact upon you and work out strategies to help change their mindset. Think about having a 10 minute offloading rule where you discuss the day and it’s issues for 10 protected minutes and then move on. Take a look at our mindset and positivity blogs for more tips. Your heart will thank you for it.

Source: Roberto De Vogli, Tarani Chandola, Michael Gideon Marmot; Negative Aspects of Close Relationships nd Heart Disease, Arch Intern Med. 2007; 167 (18): 1951-1957.

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