How to Notice that Being in a Toxic/Unhealthy Relationship is Affecting You Physically - by John Kenny

How to Notice that Being in a Toxic/Unhealthy Relationship is Affecting You Physically

‘Your body will react to the environment that it is subjected to’

There is scientific evidence available to show that if you are subject to an emotional situation then it will have a direct impact on your physical state.

You may dismiss things like headaches as not getting enough sleep or anxiety as ‘butterflies in your stomach’, but is your body really trying to tell you?

Are you experiencing a physical manifesting issue because of your emotional situation?

We are only really conscious of 20% of our thought processes, the other 80% coming from our subconscious and it will pick up on signals that we may be completely unaware of.

If you are under a lot of stress in your relationships over a period of time, it will have long term consequences on your health.

Nearly every client I have worked with has exhibited a physical symptom when they have been in an unhealthy relationship for a certain amount of time.

This time is not limited as it all depends on the level of the stress you are under, the severity of the issues and your tolerance to toxic situations.

‘Trauma Bonding’ is an example of a situation where you will be subject to high levels of hormones releasing into your system. Adrenaline and cortisol when stressed and dopamine when receiving affection. This rollercoaster will impact on you physically in the long term (see my previous article on Trauma Bonding for more information).

So, here are 6 signs to be aware of that your body could be suffering under the weight of your emotions?

1. Digestive Problems

People in unhealthy relationships often find they have issues with food.

This could be not being able to eat, eating too much (starving your emotions or eating them). Pains in their stomach and trouble digesting food.

When in stress response (fight, flight or freeze) our blood goes to our extremities, leaving our stomach and gut so we can no longer digest our food. This is the feeling of ‘butterflies’. If you are in a constant state of stress this will impact on your digestive system.

If you are an emotional eater then this will leave the food undigested for a longer period of time.

2. Hormonal Imbalances

Because of all of the hormones that can be released when we are experiencing the up’s and downs of a relationship it can put your body out of hormonal balance.

Your body can only deal with so many hormones at a time and they can stay within your system and can start attacking your body.

Once you are no longer in a stressful relationship it will take time for your body to re-balance itself and return to a normal state, therefore taking more time to get physically back into good health.

3. Feeling Worn Down

Have you noticed the draining effect of being part of a toxic relationship?

A common sign is being constantly worn out or having little energy.

This fits nicely into the relationship for your abuser too as the less energy you have the less likely you are to resist when they are trying to get their needs met.

Again, the highs and lows (and eventually just the lows) will have a dramatic impact on your energy levels. Once you feel low, you will likely stay there, even if you do get the occasional emotional boost.

Do you notice the dark circles under your eyes, the withdrawn look? Would you like to look alive and vibrant again?

4. Autoimmune Diseases

As mentioned, the release of hormones into your system will stay within your body and can end up ‘poisoning’ you.

Over time this can lead to issues such as inflammation, muscle aches, skin conditions (my psoriasis began when my parents divorced).

You can visit your doctor about these and there will be no physical reason for why you are experiencing these things, that is because it is because of your emotional state.

In an abusive relationship you know it is never about you and therefore your issues are not taken seriously. You could even be told you are making things up for attention.

Be aware of how you feel physically and how your body is trying to tell you that things are NOT okay!

5. Muscle Tightness

Remember those headaches I mentioned at the start?

Muscle tightness will cause you difficulties in a variety of places over your body and will lead to headaches, backaches to name just a couple and is a clear indicator that you are uneasy.

Stress response prepares your muscles to fight or run away and therefore creates tension in them. If you don’t run or fight then that tightness remains as you haven’t exerted the energy to dispel it.

6. Trouble with Your Memory

When you are under a lot of stress, always thinking about how you need to act, how to keep your partner happy, what is the next problem or issue that is arising – your brain has no room for anything else.

There is only so much space and concentration that you can muster and being on constant alert in your relationship means your memory could struggle or you find it hard to find words in conversations.

I had a client that was waiting for a referral for ADHD, but they were just overwhelmed with their situation and once they had managed this, they were able to focus once again.

In a toxic/unhealthy relationship, peace and harmony are not the order of the day.

Both the abuser and the abused are likely to have a history of emotional instability and chaos.

This leads to patterns that need to create what you are used to and if that means chaos then you will live in the stress cycle on a very regular basis, ultimately leading to physical problems because your emotional well-being is constantly under attack.

In conclusion, I would encourage you to really stop and think about how you are physically, especially when you are around certain people.

You will notice your stress increase, your muscles tightening, your mind being clear or foggy, the ‘butterflies in your stomach and ask why is my body reacting this way around this person?

Your subconscious is telling you something through your body, listen to what it has to say!

Please feel free to comment and leave any feedback.

If you would like to discuss this in more detail in private then do not hesitate to get in touch.

I look forward to hearing from you.


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