We all have people in our life who make us feel carefree and boosted by their energy when we are around them. Unfortunately, we also typically have people whose presence does the exact opposite. After spending time with them, we feel drained, irritable and unhappy. Although, you may have names for these types of people in your personal vocabulary, they are popularly known as “energy vampires.”

To go along with the Halloween theme this time of year, let’s talk about strategies for coping with those who almost seem to suck the life right out of you.

Recognize Them

Unlike fictional vampires, whose inability to walk around in the daylight is a dead giveaway (no pun intended), it can be more difficult to label someone an emotional vampire.  For this reason, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the signs. Is the person overly dramatic? Does she fail to respect your boundaries? Is she overly critical about everything and everyone around her? Does she complain or argue about everything? Is she relentlessly demanding, negative and does she refuse to accept responsibility for her actions? If so, you could be dealing with a potentially toxic person.

Set Clear Boundaries

If you are a person who struggles to say no, this can be especially difficult, but it’s important to keep yourself sane and healthy. The first thing you should do is set some very clear boundaries. Determine how often (if at all) and under what circumstances you will interact with this person and you can also declare some topics of conversation off-limits. Assess which aspects of this relationship are most problematic and create your boundaries accordingly.

Take a Step Back and Breathe

As soon as you feel overwhelmed, take time for yourself. Put some distance between yourself and the person who is frustrating you, even if you just take a break in the bathroom or right outside the door. While you have these few moments alone, take some deep, cleansing breaths and identify what about the situation is aggravating you the most. You may realize that you’re most bothered by topics that correspond with issues you haven’t resolved within yourself. Once you address this trigger, you may discover that its ability to upset you in the future is greatly diminished.

Know When to Cut Ties

Despite your best efforts, you may, eventually, have to end the relationship. If she is repeatedly abusive, if she continues to ignore your boundaries or your quality of life is affected, it might be time to reevaluate the situation. If something is hurting you, you have the right to walk away.

It may be uncomfortable, at first, but make yourself a priority every single day. In order to attain your own goals and be there for others, you need to be at your very best. You cannot accomplish this if you allow energy vampires to sap you of your precious resources. Remember – standing up to this kind behavior will, ultimately, benefit everyone involved.