There's whispers at the water cooler, glances shot your way…
Maybe they're always watching to sabotage your work or simply never find it good enough…
It's the boss who yells continuously…
Toxicity in the workplace takes a lot of forms. Ideally, you could get yourself out of the situation, find a new job, and be with people who are supportive and caring.
However, for many people, that's just not feasible right away. But, for your health, both physically and mentally, you have to find a way out of that situation.
What Defines A Toxic Workplace
A toxic workplace is any place you work that negativity predominates. What that negativity is can vary greatly between people, workplaces, and situations.
And what makes it much more challenging to explain is that some negative workplaces for one person are thriving and supportive workplaces for others. Some people flourish on negativity and toxicity. However, we don't suppose you are one of them if you're reading this article.
A toxic workplace commonly shows up as rude comments, whispers behind your back, and misplaced favoritism. Feeling ostracized is one of the most common symptoms of a toxic workplace.
It's not a pleasant place to be and you can dread going to work.
What This Toxic Workplace Is Doing To Your Health
Occasionally, all these things happen in the course of normal friendships, social interactions, and other places where people gather. The frequency can turn regular social interaction into toxicity.
These kinds of situations can be very frustrating, making your work life difficult and creating stress. It's the stress and frustration continuously that does harm to your body.
In a toxic situation, you recognize the threat. This threat can be the gossip, anticipation of what a boss may yell at today, or even sabotage.
When you feel the threat, your body starts producing cortisol, which helps you deal with stress. In the short term, cortisol is beneficial, helping us survive stressful situations better.
But, when you start experiencing the same type of stress every day, cortisol starts working against you. Your blood pressure can go up and stay up, you start fantasizing about the worst-case scenario and your anxiety builds and builds.
Cortisol encourages your body to store excess weight, making it very difficult to lose pounds and inches.
Cortisol even changes your brain, changing the way dopamine and serotonin are produced. This leads to increased anxiety and depression all the time.
Because of these physical changes in your body, you just can't leave work at work. It comes home with you, and it can put a strain on your family and friends. You may acquire some of these less than desirable traits, hurting others unintentionally.
At some point, you have to break the cycle, you have to get out of the situation. We're going to talk about that in a minute.
Fortunately, over time, you can reduce the stress you're under and your body can heal. It does take time. It can take months or even years for your blood pressure to return to normal. It'll take time to lose the weight you gained.
Mentally, it can take a long time to relearn healthy coping habits to stress. Because of how you had to handle the situation at your work, you may become extra sensitive to some of the common triggers in your workplace.
If you experienced gossip and whispers behind your back at work, you may find a conversation that suddenly stopped by your presence to trigger suspicion. If you had been purposely excluded from situations, you may find yourself trying to insert yourself into activities, even if you don't want to do them.
Relearning appropriate behavior and expectation can take years. It takes a lot of work to start trusting and believing in your friends and family after a toxic workplace.
What To Do About A Toxic Workplace
Ideally, leaving the situation is the best course of action. However, the vast majority of people are not able to do that, at least right away.
Having an action plan to acquire new employment at someplace better can give you strength and fortitude to endure the situation. It can provide you with hope.
If your entire workplace is toxic, with no other recourse, or it's the boss themselves, finding other employment may be your only option.
If it is one person or a small group of people, discuss the situation with your superiors. They may not know anything is happening and may take steps to curb the bad behavior.
You can do the inner work on your expectations and reactions to help change your behavior and expectations in certain situations.
First, you have to set your expectations for your own health. Schedule regular exercise and choose to eat healthier to support your body physically. Take mental breaks and use visualization and meditation to help calm your mind and give yourself stability.
Take time to find out why this behavior bothers you so much. Does it remind you of other people? Are these people who are producing the toxicity important to you? What is it about what they're doing that bothers you so much?
Doing the inner work gives you the clarity to understand what's happening and put yourself above the situation.
A toxic workplace is not someplace fun to be. It can do serious damage to your health and well-being, as well as affect your friends and family. If leaving the toxic workplace is not an option, make sure you focus on exercise and eating well to maintain your physical health and look within to discover the mental habits that will reduce your stress.