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An abusive relationship can take a heavy toll, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Any type of abuse can lead to severe mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can occur after a single frightening incident or because of long-term stress. Anyone who has suffered abuse should know that steps can be taken to repair the damage that was inflicted.

Much like with soldiers in a warzone, a toxic relationship can trigger the body’s fight or flight response, releasing hormones that can flood the body at even the mere thought of the trauma. The brain is not designed to withstand this heightened awareness for a long period. When it does, psychological trauma can occur due to an emotional stress overload.

Anyone suffering from PTSD symptoms, such as life-altering feelings of anxiety and fear, nightmares, or angry outbursts, needs to recognize that the brain has become too stressed to function correctly. PTSD, like other mental disorders, presents in many ways and varying degrees. Severe PTSD should always be treated by a professional, though individuals with any type of PTSD can significantly benefit from speaking with an expert.

Individuals who have survived an abusive relationship can suffer from additional issues, like low self-esteem and difficulties with relationships. Self-care is a way to prevent a cycle of harmful behavior. An essential part of the healing process is to learn to relate to oneself in a healthier way. This means identifying and honoring one’s own needs and feelings. Take responsibility for pain, safety, and self-pleasure, nurture oneself, and tend to individual needs.

Continue the healing process by reaching out for support from family or friends, or consider joining a support group for abuse survivors. Do not stay isolated; make it a priority to meet with friends, volunteer, or attend events. The importance of exercise and a healthy diet cannot be overstated. One of the simplest and most efficient ways to reduce stress and anxiety is a physical activity and proper body fuel. It is also essential to get the recommended hours of sleep, as fatigue can drain energy and inhibit thinking. Practicing a form of relaxation technique, such as yoga or meditation, is another effective remedy for reducing negative feelings.