How toxic work environment can affect your mental health
Are you dealing with a toxic work environment that is harming your mental health?
This would be the most personal piece I have ever written on my blog but I really want to be super transparent and vulnerable with you. Besides this, I also know, that many of us struggle so hard in a toxic work environment that makes the situation unbearable at times.
I do not believe in staying in such a toxic environment where you need to sacrifice your mental and physical well-being. However, I do understand that in times of need and other circumstances, we somehow have to compromise and do everything to survive such toxicity. I see you, I hear you and I so honor you for being here despite everything.
A toxic work environment is something that abuses your mental and physical health. The very thought of going to that place in the morning burns your stomach and literally makes you feel stressed and depressed. You hate your life for putting you in such a situation and all you pray is to end these work hours as soon as possible.
I’m going to share my story of how I ruined my mental health being in such an unhealthy, soul-degrading work environment.
Journaling to combat toxicity:
But before that let me share how journaling helped me during this lowest phase of my life. When I was working in my toxic job, I came across a blogpost on journaling and its benefits. I badly needed something to heal my anxious thoughts and remind me of my power.
I started journaling; writing morning pages was my antidote to all the stress and I slowly realized that I didn’t have to be around people who don’t value my worth.
It was a fresh Monday morning when I entered the office with full confidence and unwavering self-worth as I asked for a raise.
When denied, I printed my resignation letter and handed it over to my boss. It was through journaling that I was able to realize my worth, that I was able to stand for myself and refuse to take anything that doesn’t serve me. When you show up for yourself, the Universe always backs you up.
I have narrated all of my breakthroughs and transformational stories in my journal Unravel Yourself.
How has the toxic work environment affected my mental health?
So before starting my blog and online business ( I do have a freelancing business besides this), I was working full-time in a school as an English teacher. I was still building my side hustle and finding my voice along with the job and the sole reason for me to approach that job was my love for kids.
However, I was totally unaware of workplace politics where women pulled down each other to stay on the top and prove themselves best in the eyes of authority who by chance had literally poor judgment. I used to feel so bad for myself to work there but I really had no other options.
I knew that I was meant to do more and that this place was limiting me and my thoughts, but I still continued there for around 3.5 years. Every single morning I used to wake up with no energy or excitement to begin a brand new day and every night I would lay awake with the only thought of going back to that place the next day.
Mental health and toxic work environment:
The toxic work environment of the place made me question my own worth and integrity. I was no more the person whom I would look up to. No doubt, I still loved teaching kids but the idea of facing two-faced people and their harsh reality made me doubt humanity. (I have a beautiful journal for kids on my Etsy shop)
I clearly remember the day when I had two shifts ( yes we had frequent two shifts and nothing was acknowledged) and I literally burst out aloud in front of my mother without any reason. I was just crying so bitterly and hard and I really don’t know why.
This was the point when I realized I need help and that my mental health was affected due to this toxicity. I made an exit plan and left my toxic job within six months of that harsh incident.
So I really feel how you are feeling now and there were some mindset shifts and the inner work I did that helped me find peace again. It’s a year now but I can still remember every single thing that happened there and it gives me chills even today.
Signs of toxic work culture:
I could literally write a never-ending post on this because I have so much still within yet to be healed. But there’s hope for a better future always and I want you to look on the brighter side through this piece.
1. You just work for money
This was something I found out when I started my journaling practice and asked myself why was I working in a place I feel terrified of. The only answer I found was the need for money though the amount wasn’t something grand.
If you’re working in a place that is spoiling your health and you’re just there for the money, know that this is the first sign of a toxic workplace environment. Because you don’t feel excited or aren’t enough enthusiastic to work for such people who always degrade you. Besides, not only you, but even most of your co-workers do the same.
2. No such motivation
Well if the first thought in the morning about your work makes your stomach ill, you surely aren’t enough motivated to work for that organization. You don’t feel excited to do your best and feel your best when you think about your work.
This isn’t because you don’t always like the work, it’s because of the toxicity that you have to face daily as you enter that place. Another sign of workplace toxicity and why you don’t feel like working there anymore.
During this time of struggle, the thing that kept me sane was journaling. It was through journaling that I was able to stand up for myself, know my worth, and quit my toxic job. I have written all my transformational stories in my gorgeous journal – Unravel Yourself. Grab your copy to dive deeper – you’ll love her.
3. Lack of communication
The lack of communication or no communication at all creates so many assumptions and judgments. When there’s no proper chain of communication among the employees or from the higher authority, there are going to be disputes where you don’t understand each other.
There’s not enough recognition of your work or any such acknowledgment and the only thing you get to hear is some negative comments. In my case, there was appreciation but only for some reserved employees.
4. High turnover
The year I planned to leave my job, I witnessed so many of my colleagues do the same. These were mostly the young ones who were totally unsatisfied with their current position and hence the only option left was to leave the toxic place.
If you find high turnover that is when many employees leave the job due to some or other reasons, know that you’re in a toxic workplace environment.
5. Narcissistic leadership
The main reason why the organization or any institute fails is because of poor leaders. These people are given authority and they really don’t know how to handle it.
Your boss and higher authority will always demand you to be perfect, on-time, follow rules while it would be okay if they themselves don’t abide by those rules. I saw this happening a lot and there was no such action taken. All we had to do was to follow the rules even if the boss failed to do the same.
6. Gossips and rumors
Well, this was at the high pitch in the institute I worked in. Everyone carried rumors along with them and instead of sharing ideas, and helping each other grow, all they did was pull others down. They won’t leave a single chance to bring down their co-worker just to show themselves super smart.
However, we as a human fail to be kind here and it was really hard for me to accept this. There’s no genuine friendship and you don’t know whom to trust in such a toxic workplace.
7. Biased environment based on religion, caste, gender
We have all faced this situation when the opposite gender is paid high and it certainly isn’t based on their work. The place I worked had no such issue but we had a great huge issue on religion.
People of a certain religion were always favored in terms of promotion, increment, appreciation, pay-checks, and every other minute thing. The favoritism was in the air and it suffocated me!! Know that if this is happening in your workplace, it is toxic.
These are the main signs of toxic work culture and it really can affect your mental health. Even when you’re strong, at some point there’s a limit to accepting something that your heart denies.
Also, just because you’re strong, you don’t have to accept everything that comes your way.
Here’s how you can help yourself survive the toxic workplace environment when you have no other option.
How to survive a toxic work environment:
Here’re some tips that helped me survive my toxic workplace until I hit the breaking point:
1. Find your community and bond with like-minded people
There would be people at your workplace who would be feeling the same as you do. Find those people and bond with them. It can be difficult at first because people really don’t open up in the beginning because they’re scared of trusting.
However, take the first step and build a genuine relationship with your co-workers. Go to after-work parties and talk about your dreams to them. I really found some great friends at my workplace and I am so grateful to them to help me survive that phase.
2. Rejuvenate yourself after work
Find something that refreshes your mood after the long tiring workday. I used to do this every single day. All my evenings were booked with books and writing.
Writing is a sort of therapy for me and I really cannot store stuff within. Maybe you can add some activities like crafting, painting, outdoor sports or just relaxing in solitude. Pick up anything that makes you feel happy and rejoices your soul. This will help you unwind and be in your zone of the authentic self.
3. Know that your worth doesn’t depend on your job
Most of us attach our worth with our work and the money we earn Understand that your worth is so more than your job or the cash you earn. This usually happens because we are made to feel worthless in the toxic work environment and we carry that with us home.
It really took me hard to realize my worth and detach it from the outer world. Always remember, that you’re worthy of so much more and that your success or job doesn’t define it.
4. Keep yourself busy and get your work done
The best way to avoid all the nonsense drama around the workplace is to mind your own business. I used this and it helped me get my work done. Keep yourself busy in the work and know that you’re here to serve your purpose.
I loved being with kids and so I spent most of my time with them just to remind myself of kindness and humanity. Instead of indulging in any such gossip or doing something that doesn’t serve you, finish up with your work so that you don’t have to carry it all along.
5. Have a record of all the documents
This is really important if you want to file a case or do some legal proceedings in the future. Keep all the documents safe and have a record of them. You never know when your salary slip will help to end this toxicity. Sometimes, the higher authorities may harass you or prove you wrong because of a lack of proof.
So make sure you do your best to keep yourself safe. Well, you can never predict the level of toxicity in such a toxic environment where people don’t have any ethics.
6. Take breaks
If everything seems overwhelming, take frequent breaks. Your health is more important than any other work and if your boss is sensible enough to know this, he/she will not question your integrity.
However, this usually doesn’t happen in a toxic workplace so do not expect them to understand. Take breaks whenever necessary because you got a life outside that place.
7. Go to the therapy
There’s no shame in asking for help if you need one. In some extreme cases, you really need professional support and I would highly recommend seeing a therapist in such cases.
Many well-known institutes have a counselor for the employees ( we only had for kids) so if you’re comfortable, you can go and ask for help. Please do not keep it inside, it will only get worse and I’m saying this through my own experience.
8. Plan a better future or look for other prospects
Now that you know how toxic is your current workplace, it’s better to figure out something else for the future so that you’re not stuck with such toxic people and place. I worked for my side-hustle more dedicatedly when I knew I cannot work there anymore.
It was like my biggest WHY and I would have done anything in my power to leave that place if I had some better future plans. So, this is your option to help yourself and find something that helps you grow.
9. Create an exit strategy
You surely don’t want to be stuck in such a toxic work culture where your worth is belittled and your peace is lost. The best way is to start applying somewhere else or start working on your own thing, something that drives your soul. If you’re made to feel incapable or irresponsible by your co-workers or higher authorities, you may find it difficult to gain your confidence back.
But trust me, you really want to help yourself out and save your future self from so much pain. You may not have figured it out yet but there’s the whole damn world out there waiting for you to create magic and yes you got this!!
The toxic work culture and its effect on mental health – conclusion
If you’re still reading this, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart because this was really difficult for me to pour out in front of a huge audience. I’m so grateful for you and I really want you to take action and help yourself get out of such toxicity.
You will be lost, you will get second thoughts, and you will have no way to proceed ahead but trust yourself, you will soon figure it out once you’re at peace. I have so much love for you because I know how it feels to be felt unwanted, neglected, or biased due to your religion but in spite of everything, we are here.
I hope that this piece helps and guides you to work on yourself and leave the toxic workplace. I’m so grateful to have the work of my dreams now and if I can do it, you too can. I would love to hear your views in the comments and get connected.
For further help, I’d love to offer 1-1 coaching if you’re stuck, confused, and are looking for your life’s purpose. Here’re the details regarding my 1-1 service + all the transformations my clients had.
Feel free to reach out to me @yourjournalcoach on IG.