A Therapist Explains How to 'Detox' After an Encounter With a Narcissist

·2-min read
Photo credit: Aleli Dezmen - Getty Images
Photo credit: Aleli Dezmen - Getty Images

Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a licensed clinical therapist who specializes in narcissistic behavior, relationships and abuse, and creates content on YouTube highlighting the many red flags and warning signs that can help people identify manipulative narcissists in their own lives.

Given that many of the clients she works with fall into this category, Durvasula admits that spending time with them can be draining, and as an example in a new video, describes how she felt after the last session. "I felt fatigued, helpless, I really wanted to go to sleep, I was annoyed and distracted, and I always tend to get migraines," she says. "The best example I can give is really spending time with somebody who smokes. After a while you may feel sick from breathing in their smoke."

She goes on to say that when she knows she is going to be spending time with a narcissist, she has put together a strategy for helping her decompress afterwards which may be helpful for other people in their own narcissistic encounters.

"Number one: be alone," Durvasula advises. "It's often the easiest way to off-gas the toxicity of the interaction and not have to make idle, empty conversation, but just breathe and let it go." However, if you do have to be around people, she urges you to "choose good ones" wherever possible. That means people who won't enable the narcissist or gaslight you.

Other helpful tips include taking a nap, as sleep can help to "reboot" your mindset, or showering, as water can have a "primal" and "soothing" effect, or doing some chores such as cleaning or tidying to assist in organising your own thoughts. Durvasula also recommends doing something fun that's just for you: "Bingewatch TV, take a walk, play with a pet, cook a favourite dish, eat a favourite food, work in the garden... Do something that's enjoyable."

"Self-care isn't spas and wellness retreats," she continues. "Self-care is taking that minute or ten minutes or an hour to come down after toxic encounters, letting yourself breathe, shaking it out a bit, and reorienting yourself after the hijacking that is every encounter with a narcissistic person."

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