A bad relationship can cause more serious damage than we think.
Over the last few years, researchers have really started getting their hands around what constitutes human wellness. Some of their injunctions won’t surprise you a great deal, but others are more curious.
Take relationships, for instance. Unlike food, a relationship isn’t something that you put in your body (jokes aside). And it is not something you do to your body, unlike exercise. Instead, it is something that exists purely in the realm of abstraction, ideas and feelings. So how could it possibly have an impact on your bodily health?
It turns out that the mind-body connection is more important than anyone realised when it comes to living a full and healthy life. Like it or not, our thoughts affect the wellbeing of our bodies and vice versa. You can’t disturb one without a knock-on effect on the other.
Science will eventually get to the bottom of this puzzle and reduce everything to the merely physical. But even so, it is curious to think that what we call ‘thoughts’ actually have an impact on our chance of getting nasty diseases.
Toxic Relationships And Health
Toxic relationships are damaging to our overall health for a variety of reasons.
The first, researchers believe that it has to do with stress. Science has known for a while that stressed people tend to develop health problems at a higher rate than those who aren’t. But traditionally, they saw it as an aggravating factor, and not a cause in itself.
So, for example, if you had heart disease, the primary driving factor was cholesterol. If you were stressed, you made it worse, but stress itself couldn’t cause your arteries to fur up. Now, though, researchers think that chronic stress directly contributes to the diseases of ageing. Stress tells our cells that we need to focus on pumping out babies as fast as possible, so we can’t afford to use energy for maintaining cell structures. And over time, that leads to dysfunction.
Conflict Increases Blood Sugar Levels
Further studies show that a bad relationship can also put you at much higher risk of developing diabetes. Women who experienced conflict with their partners before going to divorce solicitors had much higher blood sugar levels, obesity, and blood pressure. The mental stress of arguing with their partner led to real, physical changes in their bodies.
The Problem Of Being In Fight Or Flight Mode All The Time
Finally, researchers think that bad relationships induce problems by activating the amygdala — the part of the brain responsible for the flight or fight response. Constant stress and tension can lead to an enlargement of this part of the brain, which makes it difficult to switch off, even if there are no direct sources of stress in the environment. Adrenaline then remains elevated, leading to problems like a weakened immune system and burnout.
The research on all this is pretty convincing. So, if you’re in a toxic relationship, it is more imperative than ever to get out. Leaving could be the best thing that you do for your health this year.