Tips for Coping with Toxic Surroundings

When it rain, it pours. 

When it’s time to make a change, it’s important to take stock of what specifically needs to change! It’s not enough to say ‘I’ll work out more…” or “I’ll just eat less,” and expect those small decisions to change us in a real and lasting way. Maybe it’s your surroundings that are hindering you? We all want and need to be in control of our thoughts and feelings, but when we’re faced with constant negativity, our energy reserves can be quickly depleted. We’ve all experienced this dynamic at some point in our lives, unfortunately, and it is often due to the attitudes and personalities of the people who are contributing to the overall atmosphere. They may be at work, members of our family, some of our friends… Sometimes it’s easy to just avoid them altogether and remove ourselves from the toxicity, but in many cases, it is not quite so simple. By learning to cope in these situations without letting the negativity permeate your psyche and affect your own moods and personality, you’re paving the way to a much happier, healthier life. Here are some tips for how to deal with toxic surroundings:

unhappyA Toxic Work Environment

For most of us, simply quitting our jobs because our coworkers make us miserable is not a feasible option. We need to find ways to work around it. In my experience, there are three things that can help you cope with this:

  • Build a support network. There are other people in your office and in your life who are dealing with similar circumstances. Get together with them and support one another. Avoid having major “vent” sessions, as that usually just feeds negativity and will make you feel more bitter, but talk about the positive aspects of your job. Foster relationships with those people in the office who make your days better, not worse. Help each other remember daily that you can rise above your surroundings.
  • Find an outlet. If you like to run, run. You like to crossfit? Crossfit. Is yoga therapeutic when you’re stressed? Do yoga. Find whatever it is that releases the tension after a rough day, and do it. Don’t let it infect you, work it out. If you’re running short on ideas, check out the Fit, Flexible, Fabulous community, which is full of people just like you who are turning to fitness and healthy lifestyle changes as a way of achieving a better quality of life.
  • Stay positive. This sounds cliché and easier said than done, but at the end of the day, only you are responsible for your attitude and perspective. Wake up every day with a grateful heart and choose to focus on the positive. Decide before you even leave your house that today will be a good day, and don’t let anyone stop it from happening. Some days will be easier than others, but you have the choice to rise above the circumstances and just be happy anyway.

A Toxic Family Environment

Toxic family members are a very touchy subject. It can be difficult to accept (or sometimes, even recognize) that people you care about most are not supportive of your goals, and it is hurtful. Maybe your mother doesn’t support your relationship, or your sister doesn’t support your fitness goals or you’re being pushed to fail in some other way. Whatever the situation, allow yourself the hurt. Allow yourself time to feel the disappointment that inevitably comes when someone whose approval you want withholds it. But don’t dwell. You obviously will still love your mom and/or sister, and you should tell them so on every possible occasion. However, spend the bulk of your time surrounding yourself with people who do support and encourage you. Chances are, whoever is giving you a hard time is probably facing some personal difficulties of their own.

Toxic Friendships

As the saying goes, friends are the family we get to choose for ourselves.  So, when one of your friends starts heading into a downward spiral of negativity, your first instinct is always going to be to try and help. Sometimes, your support will be enough to turn them around, but that is not always the case. If you find that this is true for you, you have to be willing to acknowledge and accept it; don’t allow yourself to be pulled into that downward spiral, too.

Certain life experiences have the capacity to leave people bitter, and they don’t really show much interest in being helped or helping themselves. This can be dangerous to your own well-being, as someone who is emotionally connected with them and one who genuinely cares. Always love and support them, but set boundaries that will protect you from also being affected by their unfortunate circumstances.

Always remember the importance of the mind-body connection, and never forget that your daily stress, your surroundings, and your relationships can affect your health and quality life in truly significant ways. Love yourself enough to surround yourself with positivity, and above all else KEEP MOVING!