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Breaking Free: Navigating Toxic Friendships for Better Mental Health



Friendships are an essential part of life that and can bring us a lot of happiness, joy and comfort. They provide a sense of belonging, reduce the feelings of loneliness, and improve our overall mental health. However, a topic which is not spoken about enough is toxic friendships and the impact this can have on our mental health. Toxic friendships are something everyone experiences at least once in their life. However, it is a topic in which a lot of people ‘taboo’ around. This is because they often want to maintain the peace or don’t want to acknowledge the reality of the situation. Throughout this article, I will be discussing ways in which you can spot whether you are in a toxic friendship, how to get out of it and the importance of self-love in todays society. I hope this article provides individuals with support, showing them that they are not alone and that you can be your own best friend.



Signs of toxic friendships

Toxic friendships can be emotionally draining and damaging to your mental health. Here are some signs that may indicate that you may be in a toxic friendship:

  1. You constantly feel drained after spending time with them.

  2. You feel like you're always walking on eggshells around them, afraid to speak your mind or be yourself.

  3. Your friend is unsupportive or dismissive of your goals, interests, or feelings.

  4. Your friend is overly critical, judgmental, or competitive with you.

  5. Your friend is manipulative or controlling, and you feel like you can't make decisions for yourself.

  6. Your friend constantly belittles or undermines you in front of others and brushes it off as a ‘joke’.

  7. Your friend makes you feel guilty or ashamed for not spending enough time with them or not doing things their way.

  8. You can't count on them to be there for you when you need them.

  9. They step over your boundaries or does not respect your personal space or privacy.

  10. Your friend engages in destructive or risky behaviours that make you uncomfortable or even puts you in danger.


Solutions for getting out of a toxic friendship

Getting out of a toxic friendship can be challenging, especially if you have known them for a long period of time or if they have played a big role in your life but it's important to prioritise your mental health and put yourself first. Here are some solutions that I have used in the past to get out of those toxic friendships:

  1. Recognise that the friendship is toxic: The first step is to acknowledge that the friendship is not healthy and is causing you more harm than good.

  2. Set boundaries: If you are not ready to end the friendship altogether, it's important to set boundaries such as reducing the amount of time you spend with them.

  3. Communicate your concerns: If you feel uncomfortable, you can communicate your concerns to your friend and explain how what they are doing is affecting you and making you feel. If they are a true friend, they will respect your views.

  4. Focus on building healthy friendships: It's important to surround yourself with people who uplift and support you, once you do this, you will realise how friends should and shouldn’t treat you.

  5. Seek support: Ending a toxic friendship can be difficult, so you should seek support from trusted friends and family members. They’ll be able to give you a different opinion and tell you if you are overthinking certain situations.



Ways to practice self-love

During these times where you are questioning certain friendships it is important to put yourself first, look after yourself and your mental health. This can be done through practising various different forms of self-love.

  1. Practice self-compassion: You can practice self-compassion by speaking to yourself with kindness, rather than harsh criticism, especially when you make mistakes.

  2. Prioritise self-care: Take care of your physical, emotional, and mental health. Make time for activities that bring you joy and help you relax.

  3. Set boundaries: Setting boundaries can help you create space for what you want to do. Realise that it is okay to say ‘no’ to your friends instead of trying to please them.

  4. Practice gratitude: Focus on the positive things in your life, and express gratitude for the good things that happen to you. take a few moments each day to reflect on the things you are grateful for.

  5. Learn to accept yourself: Embrace your flaws and imperfections as a part of what makes you unique. Remember that no one is perfect, and that your flaws do not define you.

  6. Surround yourself with positivity: Surround yourself with people and things that uplift you.

  7. Take care of your physical appearance: Take care of your physical appearance in a way that feels good to you.

  8. Forgive yourself: Forgive yourself for past mistakes and learn from them. Holding onto grudges or past mistakes can be damaging to your mental health.


From prior experience I have been able to develop this, so I hope this article has helped shed light on the impact toxic friendships can have on our mental health and helped those who are in one, notice it and remove themselves from that situation. Although it may require time, eventually you will come to the realisation that prioritising your mental health and making the necessary changes was the best decision for you.

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