COVID-19 has caused millions of individuals around the world to be quarantined inside of their homes for months on end. For some, this has been an extremely difficult time as they are stuck with toxic family members 24/7. This situation can take a heavy toll on the mental health of those stuck in this situation, and the person may feel stuck with toxic family members. It may seem there is no light at the end of the tunnel, but there is. You just have to learn to cope with the situation while the quarantine is in place. This can include growing yourself and maybe even making relationships with your family better. This post will give you some tips on dealing with toxic family during the COVID-19 pandemic in quarantine.
Recognize How You May Be Contributing to the Toxic Behavior
Before trying to identify the ways in which your family is behaving badly or making the situation at home worse, you need to look inward and see if you are contributing to the toxic environment. You can do this by taking a personal inventory of yourself and your behavior, ensuring that you are not enabling or allowing the toxic behavior at home to continue. By recognizing your own toxic behaviors, you can work to improve yourself. This may help improve the situation at home with other family members.
Questions to ask yourself to make this personal inventory include:
- Am I enabling the toxic behavior from other family members to take place?
- Have I set boundaries with my family members?
- What flaws should I work on?
- Do I mirror my family members’ toxic behavior?
- Is there anything in my family’s toxic behavior that reminds me of my own toxic behavior?
- Have I spoken directly with a toxic family member to express my feelings?
- Do I have any buried resentment or ill-will towards any of my family members?
Recognize Your Family’s Toxic Behavior
Now that you have taken a personal inventory of yourself and the ways in which you may be contributing to the toxic environment, you can begin to take an inventory of your family’s behavior and how it contributes to the toxic environment at home. This step is crucial because identifying your family’s toxic behaviors allows you to better communicate your feelings to your family members about what is going on at home. There are numerous toxic behaviors that can take place at home, and while you may notice some of them, it is possible that you do not notice all of them.
Toxic behaviors to look out for include:
- Constant criticizing
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Dominating the situation with full control
- No empathy
- Living in denial about the toxic behavior
- Silent treatment
- Language that is patronizing
- Expecting perfection
- Being nit-picky
- Constantly invalidating you
- Being overly dependent
Once you have taken an inventory of your own and your family members’ toxic behaviors that may be contributing to the situation at home, you can now communicate your feelings effectively to those family members. Remember that some family members will not be receptive to you trying to discuss this, but the important thing is to try. You can discuss the ways their actions make you feel, listing specific behaviors they engaged in that hurt you. You can ask why they acted that way towards you and if this behavior can change in the future. Again, your family members may live in denial about their behavior or they may recognize they are hurting you. This communication can start to rebuild the relationships and hopefully make the situation at home better.
Once you have communicated your feelings and pointed out toxic behaviors, you can start to set healthy boundaries with your family. The important part here is to not only set these boundaries but to actually uphold them. Setting healthy boundaries is crucial to maintaining mental health and being able to properly cope with the stressors of the pandemic and other normal life events and situations. When you uphold the boundaries, this will involve a consequence for the family member that crossed the boundary. You have to be able to do this if anything will change in the future. Some boundaries to set should include your family respecting your time alone, not using drugs or drinking at home while you are present, discussing what conversation topics are off-limits, and being able to use constructive criticism. Boundaries are there to maintain your mental health, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
Even if you can’t see your friends or chosen family as often or even at all during quarantine, that doesn’t mean you can’t call them and engage in conversation. Being stuck around a toxic family can be emotionally draining, so calling your friends or other individuals that uphold your boundaries and encourage your mental health will help you cope with this difficult time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. If you feel you need it, you can even reach out to a mental health professional to help you through this difficult time. Your top priority should be YOU. Never forget this.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on families around the country. Unfortunately, there are individuals stuck in quarantine with an unhealthy family dynamic. There are ways to mitigate this, but ultimately you must look out for your own mental health. Start by identifying any toxic behaviors that you may be doing and work on changing these. When dealing with a toxic family environment, establishing boundaries, taking a personal inventory, communicating, and reaching out can do a world of wonder in getting you through these difficult times. At Northstar Transitions, we are here if you need someone to discuss your emotional and mental well-being during the coronavirus pandemic. Northstar Transitions has remained open to continue to provide all levels of care during the pandemic with in-person and virtual IOP groups available. To learn how to better manage your mental health and improve toxic family relationships, contact us today at (303) 558-6400.