We can't always choose the people and situations we encounter in our lives, but we can choose how we react to them, and whether or not to engage.
But some situations absolutely call for a parting of ways, as the cost to your mental health is simply too great.
Toxic friends, unsavory work environments, and demanding events can all contribute to a number of issues including anxiety, depression, trauma, and overall mental exhaustion.
From gossip to problematic family, here are five situations absolutely worth walking away from for the sake of your wellbeing.
Meaningful friendships account for much of a fulfilling adult life, but some friendships prove healthier than others. A toxic friend is one who seizes a great deal of your time, energy, and emotional investment, while providing very little in return. They tend to come and go as they please, and offer minimal support when your chips are down.
At their worst, they can be manipulative and duplicitous.
A toxic friendship can not only wear you down physically and emotionally, but take a considerable mental toll. And as painful as it may be in the moment (and some time after), it's important to disengage from, well, disingenuous friends. True friends contribute to the quality of your life and show up when you need them the most; they're the ones you can count on no matter what.
If you're “friend” is causing you more stress than consolation, maybe it's time for an upgrade?
You've no doubt heard the tireless mantra about family being the most important thing of all, but here's where you're allowed to ask yourself: what makes a family? Are there certain relations who do nothing but neglect your needs, criticize your life choices, and otherwise pave a destructive path to each family gathering you feel pressured to attend? Would you rather be in the company of true loved ones who have earned their place in your life?
We can't choose our family, true, but we can rebuild our own. And you have every right to recuse yourself from toxic family members who cause you grief and distress. Be firm and clear if or when confronted, and explain that as an adult you deserve to create a safe and supportive environment for yourself – and your peace of mind.
If your family cares enough to put in the work to change, they will.
A Hostile Work Environment
We can seldom choose our workplace environment, and in more severe instances one's dream job can feel like a nightmare to show up to each morning. You and your colleagues may not be expected to always get along or even like one another, but you–and they–should not have to worry about showing up to antagonistic conditions each day.
If your place of employment is becoming truly unbearable, don't be afraid to speak up. Go to a supervisor and explain the situation, why it is interfering with your work and mental health, and what you feel could be done to help. If the situation truly can't be remedied, it may be time to start shopping your resume around elsewhere.
We're all guilty of indulging in gossip from time to time, but how much is too much, and how is it affecting you in the long run? While certainly harmless enough in small, menial doses, gossip ultimately does more damage than good, especially when it comes to the lives of the people affected.
Because gossip tends to dwell on the negative, rather than positive, aspects of its subjects, it's only a matter of time before that negativity permeates your own relationships to the people around you. And of course it's worth cautioning that it will only be a matter of time before you find yourself at the center of the latest juicy tell-all, regardless of the actual truth.
If you find yourself only connecting to others by way of speaking behind their backs, perhaps it's time to establish more meaningful bonds?
High Stress Events
Family doesn't present the only potentially toxic situation; friends, colleagues, and even perfect strangers can make you feel pressured to attend and engage in gatherings you'd much rather abstain from for the sake of your sanity.
Holidays and weddings are often the biggest culprits, with entire books penned and series made about the ruinous fallouts that can result. Remember, you are under no obligation to assist a bridezilla, or otherwise partake in a painful family get-together; no work event or high-pressure birthday party is worth the mental and emotional toll.
One of the few arguable perks to being an adult is the freedom to construct the life that feels right for you. This includes the friends you keep and family you keep in touch with, the boundaries you draw at work and at home, and what you ultimately choose to commit to. No one has the right to compromise these values. And if such transgressions keep occurring, now is the perfect time to walk away.
If you feel that the above situations are truly too much to handle, it may be worth your while to consider seeking professional help. A licensed therapist or counselor can offer the insight and perspective you need to overcome toxic individuals and situations. If a brick-and-mortar office setting (and price tag) aren't in your favor, affordable online counseling continues to be a popular option, with sessions conducted entirely online and at the time the best suits your schedule.
Regardless of the route to healing you choose, don't ever apologize for putting your mental health first.