Are you feeling exhausted and worn down in your household? Maybe the tension between family members is making it difficult to relax at home. Maybe there’s constant bickering or verbal attacks taking place.
Whatever the case, being in this environment may significantly impact your mental health — the constant stress and negativity can take an emotional toll on your well-being. Fortunately, there are many ways to cope and protect yourself from the toxicity.
According to experts, here are healthy ways to deal with living in a toxic household:
There are times when living in a toxic household is unavoidable, such as when finances won’t allow moving out or when negotiating a divorce. It isn’t always as simple as leaving.
Whether you live in a toxic household for a month or on an open-ended basis, the toll it takes on your mind and body is real. It is essential to take action to offset the toxicity so that it doesn’t poison your life.
Here are some healthy ways to manage living in a toxic household:
It’s all about setting boundaries
There are two general types of boundaries that come into play when living in a toxic household.
Have clear limits about other’s behaviors
The first is having clear limits about what is okay and what is not okay in terms of the behaviors of others. For example, you can advise others that you will not engage in toxic conversation.
Unfortunately, you cannot control how toxic household members respond to your boundaries, but you can still call out problematic behaviors and walk away.
Limit yourself from enabling others’ messes
The second is boundaries with yourself. I am referring to limits you set with yourself about over-functioning, enabling, and cleaning up others’ messes. In other words, it is holding yourself accountable for creating detachment. Just because you see a problem doesn’t mean you should get involved.
When toxic words are being thrown around, you can imagine them sliding off your Teflon-like exterior. These are what I call psychological boundaries.
Gandhi had a quote that exemplifies psychological boundaries: “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
Build up your resilience factor
If you imagine that living in toxicity degrades your sense of wellness, it is incredibly important that you build up buffers or resilience.
You can do this in a variety of ways, such as:
- Purposefully spending time with friends and family who build you up
- Scheduling activities that give you the feel-goods
- Expressive writing or journaling
Think of it as intentionally investing positive energy into your life to counterbalance the toxicity. You definitely want to spend as much time away from the toxicity as possible.
Seek counseling — it can help you release some of the emotions that cloud your judgment
Counseling is a fabulous way to sort out your experiences, particularly if you feel gaslit.
Not only do you get emotional support, but you can increase your understanding and release some of the emotions that cloud your judgment. It is also just a safe space to experience validation and get perspective.
Make a plan to leave
Even when you can’t exit a toxic household immediately, you can begin to make plans to leave. This creates hope.
Consider and write about how you want life to be different when you leave. What changes will you make? How will you enact this?
Start gathering resources to make your plan a reality. Create a roadmap to light the pathway out.
Debbie Middlebrook, MA, LPC, NCC, MBA
Licensed Professional Counselor, Vine Life Counseling Services
Create a mental health toolkit
Many people in toxic households are held as emotional hostages and are not given the freedom to express their ideas or opinions. Creating a mental health tool kit is a way to assert personal preferences without inviting conflict or criticism.
Psychologist and relationship expert Dr. John Gottman found that five positive interactions are needed for every negative interaction to feel optimistic about a relationship. This principle applies to self-talk as well.
In a toxic household, self-talk is often largely negative, making an already tricky situation even worse. Creating this tool kit is a great way to build skills to increase positivity and combat negative self-talk.
To begin building a mental health tool kit, start by searching for encouraging items on the internet. Print all results in a binder and label sections for easy access. Feel free to be creative and decorate the binder as a mindfulness activity.
Below are several suggestions for internet search topics, sections for the binder, and internet search result examples:
- Coping skills list – deep breathing, taking a mindful walk, exercising, learning a new skill
- Positive Affirmations – “I am good enough,” “I am worthy.”
- My strengths – “I am creative,” “I am caring.”
- My values – “I value family,” “I value friendship.”
- If spirituality is a source of support (what God says about me) – “You are loved” or your favorite verses.
Use 3-5 tools from the tool kit daily to increase positive emotions and help improve coping. Repetition is critical, so be bold and use the same materials repeatedly. However, do continue to add resources as new ones are found.
Use practical communication skills
Conversations can escalate quickly in a toxic environment. “You” language triggers conflict, mainly when used at the beginning of a sentence.
Practical communication has three main parts:
- How you were impacted emotionally (“I feel…”)
- What caused the emotion (“When…”)
- What you need (“I need” versus commands)
Here are two examples of the same message, one ineffective and one effective:
- Ineffective communication: “You are a complete jerk when you get home from work. It’s not my fault you had a bad day. You need to appreciate what I do for you!” (“You” language, general, command).
- Effective communication using the format: “I feel like I’m not good enough when you get home from work and point out everything that’s not done around the house. I need to feel that what I do is appreciated.” (I-focused, specific to an event, request).
It’s easy to see how ineffective communication can be triggering.
Blaming or commanding language triggers a defense and shuts down negotiations. Be patient. It takes practice to communicate feelings and needs versus responding instinctively out of hurt.
One helpful tip is to wait until cooler heads prevail and all involved are more receptive to a discussion on feelings and needs. This also provides time to practice a new approach to communication.
Unfortunately, some individuals may not be receptive even though needs have been communicated effectively. In this case, using less “you” language will still successfully slow escalation.
Establish a good support network
Seeing things objectively in a toxic household becomes challenging. Having supportive friends who can be encouraging and provide a balanced view of situations can significantly increase positivity and self-confidence.
Join a club
Getting out of the house and having more positive interactions with others can decrease the effects of an toxic home environment.
Going to the library to research groups to join may be a quick first step in limiting exposure to a toxic household. Joining a club can also help make new friends and expand a support network. A garden club, car club, knitting club, or book club are all examples of clubs that may be easy to find.
Seek professional help for deeper issues
Coping skills and positive activities are very useful in dealing with an unhealthy environment, but deeper issues may require a licensed professional.
Therapists are trained to help individuals unravel complex emotional wounds and help convey insight.
It’s important to know that all therapists are not created equal. Approach to therapy and personality can make a big difference in making a connection that can impact therapeutic progress. Make sure to read each therapist’s biography to see if the therapist sounds like a good fit.
Colleen Wenner-Foy, MA. LCMHC-S, LPC, MCAP
Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor | Founder and Clinical Director, New Heights Counseling and Consulting LLC
Create an emotional place of safety
When home can’t be your emotional safe haven, create one.
Choose somewhere in your house that gives you a sense of calm and serenity. This could be a room with a view, a spot near a window, or even a corner of your bedroom pre-prepared with things that bring you comfort (a book, candles, music, blanket, etc.).
The goal isn’t to live in this space but to create a place that allows you to recharge and regroup.
Avoid getting trapped in unhealthy conversations
If the person is toxic, they will try to bait you into arguments. Be prepared to step back from these situations and walk away if necessary. You don’t have to engage them at all costs.
It’s okay to say something like, “I’m not interested in talking about this right now,” or “I’d rather talk about it later.”
Don’t get sucked into the drama
When someone is toxic, they try to manipulate you into doing what they want. Don’t let yourself fall for their tricks.
Stay focused on your goals and avoid getting caught up in other people’s dramas. Know beforehand how much time you want to spend with toxic family members.
Take care of yourself first
Make sure you are eating well, sleeping enough, exercising regularly, and taking time to relax. These habits will help you stay grounded and centered, so you aren’t as quickly affected by others’ negativity.
Stay true to yourself, your values, and your beliefs.
Be proactive with your time
Establishing habits and routines in your weekly schedule will help keep you occupied. This will minimize the amount of time around toxic family members.
For example, set aside specific times to connect with friends and loved ones, participate in activities and hobbies away from home, and possibly engage yourself in a job or two. Do what you need to do to occupy your time and feel fulfilled and happy.
Seek professional help to prevent mental health damage
Living in a toxic household can potentially cause long-term damage to your mental health.
If you feel like you need more support than you’re receiving from friends and family, consider seeing a therapist who specializes in helping families cope with complex relationships.
Here are three tips to help you thrive if you live in a toxic household:
Remember that how other people behave is not your fault
You are only responsible for your own behavior, no matter what the person with toxic behavior says.
The following saying from Al-Anon can be very helpful to say to yourself, known as The 3 C’s:
“I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it.”
Think about what matters to you as a person
If you can’t change the toxic person, what can you do to help yourself?
Take steps to build a life for yourself separate from the toxic household as best as you can based on your resources. Think about what matters to you as a person and how you want to show up in the world. What do you value deep inside?
For example, let’s say you value being kind to others.
On your next trip to the grocery store, you:
- Let someone go ahead of you in line.
- Smile at the weary-looking cashier and thank her (not everybody does!)
Notice how it makes you feel when you enact this value of being kind to others, which doesn’t have to cost a thing.
If you value being connected to others, how would that look? Maybe that means joining a book group at the library or walking at the park. No step is too small.
Don’t let your emotions overpower you
It’s normal to feel strong emotions when dealing with toxic family members, such as anxiety, anger, and fear. There are many ways to experience emotions without being overpowered by them.
One way is to picture the emotion as a wave in the ocean. All waves rise, peak, and then flow out. No matter how high they get, they never stay at their peak forever. In your mind’s eye, envision yourself riding out the wave of your emotion, knowing it will always reach its end.
When you build up your own life separate from your toxic household and learn to handle your strong emotions, you put an invisible buffer between you and your household.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher
Living in a toxic household is damaging to the mind, body, and spirit. Once you are aware that your home is toxic, or in other words, no longer working for you, you need to create a number of ways to support yourself.
Talk to someone you trust
This can start with going to therapy or confiding in someone you know and trust. You want to understand how you have allowed yourself to stay in a situation that has been toxic and evaluate what you will endure and what you can let go of.
Devote your time to carve out ownership for yourself
If you choose to stay in your home, find ways to carve out space and ownership for yourself.
For example, you can decorate your bedroom with pictures of people whom you love and who love you. You can make sure you have food that nourishes you in your fridge.
Seek professional help
If you realize that the living situation is no longer manageable and you need to move, break the move down into manageable and doable steps, so you don’t get overwhelmed.
A therapist can be a vital advocate in this process of moving on and moving out. Often the decision to stay or leave can provide relief:
- If you take responsibility for staying, then you have ownership of your decision and a commitment to making the living space as best as you can.
- If you decide to leave, you will also feel relief that you made the decision and you are taking steps to move on and create a household that you create and feel ownership over.
Dr. Maggie Tipton, PsyD
Senior Director of Psychological Services, Caron Treatment Centers
There are many patterns that contribute to the development of toxic relationships and dynamics within a household.
One contributing factor occurs when one or more members of the household have an untreated substance use disorder. Living with a loved one who struggles with a substance use disorder impacts the entire family system and can result in trauma for individual family members.
Prolonged exposure to toxic behaviors and relationships tends to change someone’s sense of reality and what is and isn’t healthy.
What’s interesting is a lot of times, when people have been exposed to toxic relationships from an earlier age — family relationships, living with a parent with an alcohol or substance use disorder, or living with somebody suffering from another mental illness — they may not understand healthy relationships, ultimately repeating lived experiences in their own relationships and lives.
In a strange twist, the toxicity offers a sense of familiarity that is experienced as safer and more comfortable than venturing toward unfamiliar, healthier relationships.
Show compassion and grace
Awareness is the first step. We can’t change something if we don’t know it’s there. Often, it is a supportive person or loved one pointing out concerns that never registered to the individual in the toxic relationship.
Show compassion and grace, whether you are the one becoming more aware of the toxicity in your relationship or the supportive person pointing out the relationship concerns.
Talk to a professional
A professional counselor can help you safely unravel the past and figure out how it affects your current relationship dynamics.
Evaluate your relationships
If you evaluate your relationships and find the difficulties outweigh the positives, take steps to explore this further.
While therapy that’s tailored to the entire family can be extremely helpful, if everyone isn’t willing to participate, then the focus needs to be on how family members can cope individually, which can include prioritizing well-being and self-care.
Self-love and Relationship Coach, The Wild Heart Life
Unfortunately, many of us can find ourselves stuck in unhealthy or otherwise known as toxic environments. When this becomes a place you live in, your household, it can have a dramatic impact on the quality of your life.
So, I say this with a tender heart because I’ve been there before, my friend: Do everything in your power to get out of that situation as soon as possible — your well-being depends on it.
Until that time comes, here are some ways to help you how to deal with living in a toxic household:
Set boundaries on how you will allow yourself to be treated and not be treated
Set clear boundaries on how you will allow yourself to be treated and not be treated within the household. Many toxic households are rampant with no boundaries, which is part of the toxicity.
An example of that could go like this: Someone in the house says something mean or rude to you or calls you a name, and you say something like, “I will not be spoken to like that.”
The trick with holding healthy boundaries is always the “follow-through.” You must follow through with what you say.
As in the example, if you say you will not be spoken to like that and they continue, you can say something like, “When you speak to me with kindness, we can continue the conversation,” and leave the room if you have to.
The hardest part is the follow through from your words to your actions, which can bring on many feelings like guilt and shame if you are not used to standing up for yourself.
Speak your truth from a place of love and kindness
Meaning, however it is that you are feeling in that toxic environment, be honest with yourself and with the other people in that household about how the toxic behaviors make you feel. In other words, speak up when things feel “wrong” or out of line.
If there is something you do not like in the way someone is talking to you or treating you, be willing to say so from a kind, non-judgmental, non-attacking place — this isn’t about them; it’s about you.
This, again, may feel weird and scary to your nervous system because your conditioned habitual response in the past may have been to silence yourself or just not deal with it.
When you do this consistently, you take back your power and allow the other person to see how their behavior has impacted you, which in turn helps them too.
Practice self-care daily to counteract the toxicity
Being in a toxic household is very draining to your mind, body and soul, so to counteract that, it is essential to “fill up your cup” by giving yourself the love and attention you are being depleted of in that environment.
You start by doing things that are just for you and bring you joy and peace.
Some good examples are meditation, working out or any form of exercise, spending time in nature, reading a good book, taking a bath, taking up a new hobby, painting, and journaling.
You can also do things that make you laugh, like watching a funny movie, getting a massage or facial, hiking, spending time with animals, dancing, practicing martial arts, etc. — literally, anything that brings you joy and peace. Do more of that consistently.
Related: How to Make Yourself Happy
Spend time with people who are good to you
Spend time with people who are good to you:
- Who uplifts you
- Who inspires you
- Who brings you joy
- Who sees the good in you
- Who holds you to a higher standard
- Who helps you to be a better version of yourself
And if you don’t have that, be that for yourself, and eventually, you will have people like that in your life.
Founder, Find Black Therapist
Establish boundaries and assert feelings
Living in a toxic household can be difficult and emotionally draining. It is important to establish boundaries and assert your feelings in order to help cope with the situation.
Here are some tips for establishing boundaries and asserting your feelings:
Communicating your needs and feelings clearly can help you express yourself in a way that is understood by others. Let people know where your boundaries lie, and don’t be afraid to tell them if they are crossing the line.
Set limits to create a sense of safety in an unpredictable environment
Setting limits can help create a sense of safety in an unpredictable environment. Decide what behaviors are acceptable and enforce these limits by calmly and firmly responding when they are crossed.
If something does not feel right, speak up. It is important to tell someone about it in order for the situation to be addressed and for changes to be made.
Taking time for yourself is essential in a toxic household. Make sure to take time for yourself and do activities that bring you joy and help you manage your stress levels.
Create a support network
Creating a support network of family, friends, or professionals can be very helpful when living in a toxic household. It is important to have people who are willing to listen and provide emotional support during difficult times.
Reach out to reliable sources
Find someone you can trust and reach out to them for help. People who are understanding and non-judgmental can be invaluable in providing the necessary support and assistance during trying times.
Connect with a counselor or therapist
A trained professional can be helpful in dealing with the emotions associated with living in a toxic environment, as well as developing coping skills to manage stress levels.
Join a support group
Joining a support group can provide much-needed companionship from people who have experienced similar situations or understand what you are going through on an emotional level.
Dr. Ketan Parmar
Psychiatrist and Mental Health Expert, ClinicSpots
Living in a toxic household can be challenging and overwhelming, but there are steps you can take to make the situation more bearable. This article will discuss how best to cope with living in such an environment.
Acknowledge the problem
The first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem. It may seem easier to pretend things are not as bad as they are, but it’s important to recognize that your home life negatively affects you and those around you.
Taking time, even if it’s just for yourself, to reflect upon what is going on and how it makes you feel is essential for beginning any kind of healing process.
Define healthy boundaries
Once you have identified the toxicity of your household, it’s important to set boundaries for yourself and those around you in order to maintain a safe space.
Whether this means setting up a physical boundary, such as closing your bedroom door or creating an emotional boundary by not engaging in certain conversations, having these boundaries can help build a sense of safety and control in your home environment.
Identify your feelings
It can be helpful to identify how living in a toxic household affects you emotionally. Taking some time each day to write down how you are feeling may help give you clarity on the situation and provide insights into unhealthy patterns that may exist within the family dynamic.
Additionally, it can be beneficial to talk with someone you trust about your feelings and experiences in order to gain a better understanding of what is going on.
Seeking help from outside sources
If the situation gets too overwhelming or difficult to handle on your own, it’s important to seek help from outside sources. This could mean talking to a therapist, joining a support group, or even just reaching out to friends and family for advice and comfort.
Having people who can lend an ear can provide a much-needed source of stability and reassurance during difficult times.
Create positive habits
Finally, it’s important to focus on creating positive habits that will help reduce stress levels in the household.
This could include:
- Starting an exercise routine.
- Picking up a new hobby.
- Scheduling regular alone time to de-stress.
- Just taking a few moments each day to practice mindfulness.
Finding activities that bring you joy can help create an atmosphere of positivity and make living in a toxic household more bearable.
It is possible to cope with the situation and find ways to maintain your mental health and well-being. Acknowledging the problem, setting boundaries, identifying your feelings, seeking help from outside sources, and creating positive habits are all great ways to start.
With these strategies in mind, it’s possible for those who live in these environments to achieve peace of mind and move forward with their lives.
Joshua Webb, Psy. D
Psychologist | Counselor, Addiction Group
Living in a toxic household can be incredibly challenging, and it is crucial to recognize the signs of toxicity.
Suppose you are in a household with ongoing negative behavior, manipulation, verbal or physical abuse, or other forms of harm. In that case, you should seek help from trusted friends and family members.
You must also take steps to protect your mental and emotional well-being:
Identify the warning signs
The first step in dealing with living in a toxic household is to identify the warning signs of toxicity.
Signs of toxicity may include:
- Verbal or physical abuse
- Controlling behavior, such as monitoring phone calls or text messages
- Isolating family members from outside relationships
- Bullying within the home
Related: How to Deal with Controlling People?
It is essential to be aware of these behaviors to address them quickly and effectively.
Establish boundaries to protect yourself mentally and emotionally
Once any warning signs have been identified, it is vital to establish boundaries between yourself and the other members of the toxic household.
It may not always be easy to do this – especially if those around you are testing those boundaries – but it is necessary for protecting yourself mentally and emotionally from further harm.
This could mean:
- Setting clear expectations about acceptable behaviors.
- Avoiding arguments with other family members.
- Avoiding conversations about specific topics that could lead to conflict.
- Speaking up when something doesn’t feel right.
Seek professional help when necessary
In some cases, professional help may be necessary to cope with living in a toxic household. Therapists can help individuals learn how to manage their emotions through techniques like mindfulness and practice self-care strategies such as yoga or journaling.
If physical violence has occurred, seeking shelter through organizations like domestic abuse hotlines can provide safety while also addressing underlying issues related to the toxicity of the household environment.
Talking with trusted friends or family members who understand what you’re going through can provide support during difficult times.
Reach out to support services and resources
It is important for individuals living in a toxic household to reach out for support services and resources available both inside and outside their home environment.
Many organizations are explicitly devoted to helping survivors of domestic abuse, such as The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE), which provides free, confidential counseling services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year.
Other organizations offer educational materials on healthy relationships and legal information regarding restraining orders if needed.
Additionally, many local community centers offer group therapy sessions that allow individuals who have experienced trauma together to share experiences in a safe space.
Take time for yourself
When dealing with living in a toxic environment, taking time out for yourself is essential.
Activities like practicing yoga, reading books, going on walks, listening to music, journaling, or catching up with friends over Zoom check-ins can help reduce stress levels while providing moments of relief in chaotic environments.
Taking care of your physical health by eating nutritious meals throughout the day and getting adequate sleep will also benefit your mental health.
Senior Editor, Tandem
If everyone could live in loving households where only positive affirmations were given and kind words were said, what a wonderful world it would be. Unfortunately, this dream is not a reality for many.
Instead, many people live with a family that fails to respect their boundaries or presents malicious behaviors that are hurtful to each other. Families and households like these are toxic.
Many factors can contribute to why a person stays with a toxic family or lives in a toxic environment. Though moving out might be the best option, it is unfortunately not always feasible.
How can a person deal with living in a toxic household when this happens?
Don’t take things personally
Though easier said than done, remind yourself that just because people are toxic and say rude or mean things to you, this does not mean that what they say is the truth.
If they call you ugly, fat, or something else derogatory, remember that it is their insecurity causing them to say this. As Christina Aguilera sings, “You are beautiful, no matter what they say.”
Set boundaries and do not bend them
Some households are toxic by saying things that are demeaning, inappropriate, controversial, or that otherwise make you feel uncomfortable.
If there are subjects you need to avoid, tell your household. If they broach one of the subjects you have deemed off-limits, remove yourself from the conversation.
Remove yourself from uncomfortable situations
You shouldn’t only remove yourself during uncomfortable conversations. Any time you are in the household, and there is a situation that feels toxic, remove yourself as quickly as possible.
Go to another room or leave the house, if possible. The longer you listen to or witness toxicity, the worse you will feel.
Reach out for help
Whether you reach out to a friend and talk, or you reach out to a professional therapist and explain your situation, talking about your feelings should help you determine if you can continue living in a toxic environment.
Getting out of a bad situation is never easy and finding people to support you — even if the support is not financial — can be extremely helpful.
Learn what “not” to do
One of the most important things you can do when living in a toxic household is to turn the experience into one you can learn from.
Though members of your family or the household might be prone to fighting or being unkind, that does not mean that you need to continue this behavior. Roy T. Bennett wrote, “You cannot control the behavior of others, but you can always choose how you respond to it.”
Parenting Content Specialist, HiJunior
Strive for neutrality
When there are toxic members in your household, be civil with them, keeping in mind that civil and friendly are two very different things.
The end goal is to leave the house when you can. Therefore, being civil and keeping interactions to a minimum, as well as simply being polite to the other members of the household, will decrease the amount of grief when you do leave the house.
Moreover, staying neutral and only interacting with other household members when you have to will prevent them from finding ammunition against you. So long you are polite, mind your own business and clean up after yourself, the likelihood of toxicity being directed at you decreases.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case, but it is worth working on being the best you can be — for yourself, anyway. Make sure to do your responsibilities and chores around the house without asking questions.
Keep yourself busy
When possible, consider staying the night at a friend’s house, going out during the day, and surrounding yourself with people who care about you and have a good influence.
Find something you enjoy doing, whether it is:
- Creative writing
All of these are also great stress relievers.
Moreover, you can try and stay out of your house by taking on extra clubs at school or simply staying late to study. And when you are home, try staying in your room.
Keep in mind that low contact while still at home can be misinterpreted by narcissistic or manipulative parents or other family members, and they can still get angry without reason. It depends on the household, do what you think will lead to the best possible outcome.
Plan for the future
Having a plan for what to do in the future will help you stay sane and keep you motivated.
Start saving up, figure out your budget, research the costs of housing, etc., and take into consideration what type of contact you would want to have with the people in the household: Low contact? No contact? Or perhaps you want to have normal contact, considering they may be less toxic once you move out?
Also, mentally prepare yourself for the day when you are able to leave.
Toxic households will often try and guilt trip family members when they try to become independent; this is a trap. It will not do any good for you, and more often than not, promises of change are empty.
Attend therapy if you can afford it
Once you are out, and if you can afford it, consider attending therapy. Sometimes we don’t truly realize the effects that certain things have on us, despite the fact that they may hinder our ability to lead normal lives.
An example of this is that a lot of people that suffer from depression are actually not aware of this, especially if they are suffering from functional depression. It’s best to go to therapy, even if you think you don’t need it.
Relationship Expert, Sameera Sullivan Matchmakers
Set boundaries and limitations
Make toxic family members know of the things you will not broach in advance. Limit the amount of information you disclose to them and your interactions with them.
Improve your sense of self-esteem
Family members can be difficult to avoid since we care about what they think of us. However, nobody has the right to make you feel miserable without your consent.
Get the help you require from others
Make a conscious effort to develop connections that are uplifting, supporting, loving, and mutually beneficial. What your toxic family can’t provide, you will be made up for by the ones you can rely on.
Molecular Biotechnology Student | Founder, Fitness Equipped
If you are living in a toxic household, it can be difficult to know how to deal with the situation.
Here are some tips that may help:
Talk to your family about the issue
It can be difficult to deal with a toxic household on your own, so it is important to talk to your family about the issue. They may not be aware of how the environment is affecting you, and they may be willing to work together to make changes.
Create a safe space for yourself
If possible, try to create a safe space for yourself within the home. This could mean having your own bedroom or spending time in another room when things get too difficult.
Seek outside support
If you feel overwhelmed by the situation, it can be helpful to seek outside support. This could mean talking to a friend or family member, visiting a therapist, or joining a support group.
Set boundaries with the toxic ones
It is crucial to set boundaries with the people in the household who are causing the toxicity. This means communicating what you are and are not comfortable with and sticking to those boundaries.
Take care of yourself
In addition to setting boundaries, it is important to take care of yourself emotionally and physically. This means eating healthy, exercising, getting enough sleep, and practicing self-care rituals.
Dealing with a toxic household can be challenging, but finding ways to cope and thrive is possible.
By communicating openly with your family, creating a safe space for yourself, seeking support from others, and taking care of yourself in all aspects, you can begin to heal and move forward.
Public Relations Diploma Graduate | Former Freelance Writer & Social Media Enthusiast
Go for walks
A great way to clear your head is to take a walk in the neighborhood. With or without a dog, you can take a break from any household drama. You may also run into someone you know to have a short chat.
Participate in extracurricular activities
Getting out of the house, meeting new people, and doing fun activities will help you in the long run. Yes, you could theoretically spend hours in your room retreating from relatives with very different personalities than yours. Life is short, so you may as well make the most of it.
Hang out at friends’ houses
Rather than inviting people over to your house where your overly critical relatives could monitor your conversations and behavior, you could see what it’s like at your friend’s house. It may or may not be that different from your household. Maybe it looks better, but you find out later from someone else that they have some skeletons in their closet.
Write your thoughts to clear your head
In theory, keeping a diary is good unless you have relatives who love to analyze your thoughts. Writing on scrap pieces of paper and then recycling them or jotting down notes on your cellphone or computer might bring you a better piece of mind — another nice way of clearing your head.
Listen to music to avoid the arguments around you
Instead of listening to arguments, you can listen to well-produced works of art. Whether you want to listen to ambient music or heavy metal, there is something for everyone. Headphones or earphones make it easy to listen without disrupting those around you.
Stick to small talk
If you want to be in a calmer environment, you should stick to discussing the weather, any pleasantries from your day, and current events unrelated to politics.
Talking about what’s on television is usually fine unless the subject matter is polarizing. Diving into deep discussions about religion, money, and politics could result in chaos.
When there are two or more strong-minded individuals fighting, it makes it challenging to know how to alleviate the situation. Often, you may have to involve someone else to try to de-escalate the discussion.
Disturbing the peace is a big issue for your neighbors, so don’t be too surprised if the police show up to intervene if necessary.
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Set clear boundaries; show them that you deserve respect
Although your family may not treat boundaries with much respect, by establishing and upholding limits for yourself, you are showing yourself that you are important and deserving of respect. What forms of treatment you will accept and reject is entirely up to you.
You can start by requesting new behavior, such as “Please talk to me in a regular tone. I don’t like being yelled at.”
Follow through with a consequence if they don’t comply
Follow through with a consequence, such as leaving the scene right immediately and going to your room or going for a drive if they don’t comply.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean to live in a toxic household?
Living in a toxic household can mean different things to different people, but generally, it means living in an emotionally or physically unhealthy, abusive, or stressful home environment.
This can include constant criticism, yelling at, bullying, neglect, substance abuse, or any other behavior that creates a negative atmosphere and affects the well-being of family members.
What if I love the person causing the toxicity in the household?
It’s normal to feel conflicted when someone you love harms or burdens you. However, it’s important to remember that love should never be an excuse for abusive or violent behavior.
If you’re having trouble reconciling your feelings for the person with the harm they’re causing you, you should talk to a trusted adult or therapist for counseling.
What if I can’t leave the toxic household?
If you can’t leave the toxic household, there are still steps you can take to improve your situation. Here are some ideas:
Create a safe space: Identify a room or area in your home that you can have to yourself. Set it up with things that make you feel good, such as photos, artwork, or calming colors.
Focus on your future: If you’re unable to leave the toxic household, focus on your future and what steps you can take to create a better life for yourself. This may mean setting goals, furthering your education, pursuing a career, or saving money.
Seek outside support: If you can’t find support in your household, you can seek it outside. This may mean joining a support group, volunteering, or finding a mentor to guide and encourage you.
What if I’m a minor living in a toxic household and can’t help myself?
If you’re a minor living in a toxic household and cannot help yourself, there are still steps you can take to protect yourself. Here are some ideas:
Talk to a trusted adult: Talk to a trusted adult, such as a teacher, coach, or counselor, about what is going on at home. They may be able to support you and provide resources.
Call a hotline: You can call a hotline, such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline, for help and support.
Create a safety plan: Create a safety plan in case you need to leave the house quickly. This may include packing a bag with essentials, finding a safe place, and memorizing important phone numbers.
What if I want to leave the toxic household but have nowhere to go?
If you want to leave the toxic household but have nowhere to go, there are still options you can use. Here are some ideas:
Reach out to friends or family members: Reach out to friends or family members who may be able to offer you a temporary place to stay.
Look for resources: Look for resources in your community, such as shelters or housing assistance programs, that can help you find a safe place to live.
Make a plan: Make a plan for how to leave the toxic household and what steps you need to take to ensure your safety. This may include saving money, finding a job, or attending school.
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