Your bad for you- good for you boyfriend who loves playing the "love game", making you feel jealous, anxious, insecure, and has you wrapped up in all of their personal problems might just be the underlying cause of your skin issues (and numerous other health issues). Sure, all couples fight from time to time but when it's a daily occurrence and you never fully resolve your issues or you feel like you're walking on eggshells, it might be time to ditch the boy toy. Toxic relationships, like the one outlined above, can seriously impact your mental and physical wellbeing, most noticeably- your skin.
How To Tell If Your Relationship Is Toxic
So, what exactly is a toxic relationship and how do you spot one? Toxic relationships have a few common identifiers but they're basically anything that is toxic or harmful to your overall wellbeing. They can take many forms, being a family member, close friend, coworker, or even a significant other. Most likely if you are in a toxic relationship you will feel:
- Drained after spending time with that person
- Wrapped up in their problems rather than focused on your own
- Worse than before you spent time with that person (anxious, upset, jealous)
- Constantly let down by that person's actions (unappreciated)
- Like you are constantly walking on eggshells
- That everything is controlled by one person (where to eat, watch, what to do, even money)
- Like you fight regularly, and your fights never get fully resolved
- Constantly teased or nagged
- Chronically stressed! (I cannot stress this enough--> see what I did there.)
Obviously, none of these things seem enjoyable, and you would think that it would be easy to spot or leave a relationship like the one defined above. However, sometimes certain identifiers fly under the radar for a long period of time or leaving the situation isn't so simple. Most of the time, toxicity doesn't go from 0 to 100 overnight, and that's why it can be extremely hard to fully identify or understand where or why toxic relationships begin.
Toxic VS. Healthy Relationships
One-way people often describe a toxic (or abusive) relationship is sitting in a bath of warm water while someone slowly turns up the temperature until the water is boiling. You remain there until you get burned, or worse. Still not sure whether or not you're in a toxic relationship? Sit and think for a long period of time about the relationship in question. Does this person make you feel happy? Do they make you a better person? Do you feel better or worse after being around them? Do they inspire you to do more, to do or be better?
While supportive relationships are a huge boost to your overall health and confidence, detrimental relationships can be a serious drag. Toxic relationships can create a toxic internal environment and even change the way our genes express themselves, leading to long term stress, depression, and anxiety. In all, healthy relationships will leave you feeling happy and energized while toxic relationships will leave you feeling depleted and depressed.
Being in a constant state of alarm can cause lack of sleep or interrupted sleep, anxiety, and depression; which can undoubtingly weaken your immune system overtime. If you experience extreme stress due to a relationship, you might find that you are unable to focus on work, school, or other responsibilities which can contribute to physical stress long term.
Inflammation, Adrenal Fatigue, and Acne
Toxic relationships that create unnecessary stress, can have a serious impairment on both your inflammation levels and your adrenal glands. Two key functions to your overall health, and most noticeably your skin. Acne is, after all, an inflammatory skin disease. These high levels of chronic inflammation can set you up for adult acne (among other illnesses). This constant up and down relationship can trigger a long-term fight or flight response, resulting in higher cortisol levels and adrenal fatigue. If you're experiencing adrenal fatigue, you may have:
- Hormonal Imbalance
- Lack of energy
- Brain fog
- Dark under eyes
- Tiredness after exercising
- Multiple Food Allergies
- Depression or Anxiety
- Decreased ability to handle stress
- Low Blood Sugar
- Joint Pain
- Low sex drive
- Weight gain
So how does this happen exactly? Think of a stressful time in your life, however that stressful time (or relationship) never ends but instead continues for months to years on end- over and over again. Adrenal fatigue can be due to either ongoing emotional or physical trauma. This constant state of stress keeps your body in fight or flight mode and leads to inconsistent cortisol levels, sometimes being too high and other times too low.
Those suffering with adrenal fatigue, may not have enough DHEA, which is basically the parent hormone that creates all other hormones. This can impact how your entire body functions, thus the symptoms listed above. But not to fret, adrenal fatigue is not permanent in any way, shape or form! It's totally reversible when the right steps are taken to heal, starting with removing yourself from toxic relationships and ridding your life of excess stress.
3 steps to heal from a toxic relationship and adrenal fatigue
While healing isn't going to happen overnight, you will find that immediately removing yourself from the toxic situation or relationship will put your mind and body at ease. While it's best not to stay in any detrimental relationship, there are those which we may not be able to avoid, like a family member or a coworker for example. If you can't immediately remove yourself from the situation, three majorly important things you can do to heal yourself from adrenal fatigue are cleaning up your diet, taking adrenal supporting herbs, and reducing the overall amount of stress in your life!
Begin an Adrenal Supporting Diet
Start by nixing all the "bad stuff". Cigarettes, booze, caffeine, excess sugar and sweeteners, and overly processed foods. It may also be a good idea to cut dairy or gluten temporarily from your diet, as these foods can lead to higher levels of inflammation throughout the body. Luckily, you still get to eat all the "good stuff". Avocado (of course), free range meats, fatty fish like salmon, walnuts and almonds, pumpkin, chia, or flax seeds, and fermented foods are all great for supporting healthy adrenal function. Celery juice is rich in micronutrients and can also help to heal the adrenal glands.
Supplement with Herbs
Heard of adaptogens? They basically help your body adapt to stressful events, actively lowering and managing cortisol levels. Some of the best adrenal supporting adaptogens are ashwagandha, rhodiola, reishi, cordyceps, maca, and holy basil. It may seem a bit intimidating with all the different vendors and knowledge (or lack thereof) surrounding adaptogens, but whether you’re an adaptogenic expert or just wanting to try a few out one of my all-time favorite places to buy is from . They're an extremely reliable source with some of the most potent adaptogenic blends I've tried. If you're just starting out and don't know which one to go with try ashwagandha or reishi, they're my favorites for relaxing your whole system and making you feel straight up Zen.
You can also try using essential oils like lavender or rosemary oil to relax and unwind. Both have been proven to effectively reduce cortisol levels and oxidative stress when inhaled. Vitamin C, D, magnesium, licorice root, and B-Complex vitamins are all beneficial supplements worth mentioning due to their healing relationship with the adrenal gland.
Reduce Everyday Stress
Well, duh. But some of us just live straight up stressful lives so if reducing the number of activities or involvements your committed too just isn't possible, you'll need to learn how to better manage and cope with the stress thrown your way. Some of my favorite ways to reduce stress are:
Take time for yourself. Do something relaxing, read a book, take a bubble bath, put on a face mask, bake a cake. Whatever "me" time means for you. Do something for you, that you enjoy and forget about the rest of the world for a minute. All of your responsibilities will still be there when you get back. Try to do something fun or something that makes you feel good every single day!
Get enough sleep. This is so important, yet tricky when those who are struggling with adrenal fatigue find themselves falling into an insominatic pattern. Try relaxing before bed by drinking tea, using an essential oil diffuser, and turning off all electronic devices at least two hours before. This should help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Supplement with sleep promoting adaptogens like reishi if necessary. Avoid staying up late and try to get around 8 hours of solid sleep every night.
Exercise. Even moderate exercise like walking or yoga can be beneficial to your adrenal system.
Minimize Relationship Stress. Whatever this means to you personally. It may be setting boundaries with a coworker or breaking up with an emotionally abusive boyfriend. Try your best to minimize things you are aware of being emotional or physical stressors to your daily life. Reduce toxic relationships and surround yourself with loving, supportive people.
It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, to a few years, but healing from a toxic or stressful relationship is possible. Healing adrenal fatigue can happen! Give it time, learn to relax, and enjoy the present moment without thinking about the future, or the past. Learn to live more freely and live in the moment of now.
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Kali Kushner, known as the Instagram alias myfacestory, is a natural beauty advocate in the greater Cincinnati area who is passionate about using organic skincare and holistic remedies to heal acne from the inside out. Her dedication lies in her own chronic acne struggles as she continues to restore herself while helping those around her.