We can all agree that every job has some stress level which on most days is bearable. However, if you often feel your efforts are not being appreciated or even the thought of going to work depresses you, chances are you work in a toxic environment.
As per the study published by MIT Sloan, a toxic work environment is the sole reason for people quitting their job. A toxic work environment comprises several things, from poor pay to a lack of recognition or appreciation and denying employees a voice. What might come as a surprise to some is that the problem often starts from the top.
Though bad leadership is considered the prime reason for workplace toxicity, it is what they actively do to create a toxic environment.
The crux of the toxic workplace lies where employees feel unsafe or unheard. After all, having a positive work environment is one of the critical aspects of job satisfaction. But it can all change if the required policies and actions are implemented to ensure a positive workplace.
So, how can one cope with a toxic work environment? Well, there are a few ways to get started.
5 Ways to stay positive in a toxic workplace
From employees to an employer, there are a few ways to ensure a positive work environment. For instance, implementing a feedback system to seek employee input is an effective tool for gaining valuable insight.
It allows for direct and honest feedback leading to a cultural shift. Apart from that, a few other ways to maintain your cool in a toxic work environment are as follows.
1. Maintain a Work/Life Balance
Balancing your work and life is critical to your health. It is of great importance, especially when working in an environment where there is no way out. So, find your balance and compartmentalize your days instead of fighting them.
After conquering the battles at work, unwind in the most carefree way imaginable. Do whatever it takes to rejuvenate your soul, whether binge-watching a sitcom or heading out with friends.
Maintaining a work-life balance also helps create a boundary between your professional and personal life. A balanced professional and personal life increases your productivity. Working in a toxic environment is stressful and overwhelming. However, what keeps your sanity under wraps is the work/life balance.
2. Unburden Yourself
One of the worst things to do while working at a toxic workplace is to keep your thoughts to yourself. You don’t have to confide in your colleagues if you’re uncomfortable, but you must communicate with someone. Keeping things to yourself is a breeding ground for mental health issues.
At some point, you start believing you are the problem. You spoke out of place, or you did something wrong. However, before your mental health turns for the worst, it’s better to talk to someone to make sense of your thoughts.
Conversation with a professional in a judgment-free environment helps identify negative thoughts that affect mental health. Furthermore, it also helps figure out the causes of stress, enabling you to find ways to reduce or manage it.
Talking about a problem can help it break down into smaller bits, preventing you from feeling overwhelmed. Furthermore, speaking to someone outside the situation gives you a different perspective.
3. Set Boundaries
There is no denying that boundaries are critical for a healthy work environment. Setting boundaries requires self-awareness and the strength to communicate your limits with your colleagues and managers. So, if you haven’t established boundaries, it’s about time you should.
This might feel uncomfortable initially, but it becomes secondary to your nature once you start doing it. For instance, if you want to set physical boundaries, you could start by offering handshakes instead of hugs or saying no to working on weekends.
When it boils down to ensuring mental health, stick to your working hours and do not engage in unnecessary gossip that drains your energy. Many might not be aware, but emotional boundaries are critical, as someone’s rainy day might disrupt your mood.
Setting emotional boundaries doesn’t mean you no longer feel empathy or understand someone else’s circumstances. It only means you communicate upfront and delegate work when required the next time something unusual happens.
4. Take a Break
Your lunch break and annual leaves are there for a reason. They are your time away from the chaos that is your workplace. When it comes to lunch breaks, don’t skip them just because you lack company. Sometimes being with yourself can turn out to be great company. Take that lunch break and give your mind to think about something else other than your work.
Once a year, it is nice to dart off to a tropical island or in the mountains to recharge yourself. After all, a toxic work environment can wreak havoc on your well-being. Don’t wait for a specific time to use your annual leaves.
If you cannot take time out for an extended vacation or even a short trip, find small ways to take breaks daily. Even on the busiest days, you must take a moment for yourself. It could be as simple as taking a walk or listening to music.
The benefits exercise has on your mind and body are incredible. One of the main reasons exercise is often recommended when dealing with stress. Irrespective of the type of physical activity you prefer to participate in, in the end, you do get positive results.
Exercise encourages your brain to release endorphins that help improve your mood. Regular exercise, whether every day or thrice a week, endorphins act as natural painkillers.
If you don’t have the option of leaving a toxic workplace, you could take measures to prevent it from draining you physically and mentally. Exercise is among the tools that help you feel calm and in control of your life.
Yoga or cardio, it is up to you to choose which form of exercise works best for you to reduce stress and increase your focus. Besides that, consistency is critical to overcoming challenging circumstances healthily.
A toxic work environment is nothing short of psychological torture that affects your well-being. You start doubting yourself; even the smallest things can be challenging, like getting out of bed in the morning. Several factors contribute to a toxic workplace, from poor pay to mistreatment.
So, how to survive in such an environment? There are a few ways to do so. You can talk to someone, take breaks and establish boundaries to ensure your well-being.