Is Your Workplace Toxic
If the thought of going to work every day doesn’t make you jump up and down with joy, you’re definitely not alone! In fact, as many people worked from home during the pandemic, we quickly discovered that doing our jobs at all-- in any environment-- isn’t very fun. But if you’re struggling with a toxic workplace, your worries are a little bigger than “my job isn’t very fun.” In fact, a toxic workplace can be actively detrimental to your mental and physical health and it may be time for you to leave! In this article, we’ll learn about what toxic workplaces are, how to identify them, and how you can get help.
What is a Toxic Workplace?
At the core, a toxic workplace is much more than a space where you aren’t having fun. A toxic workplace is also different from a job that is mentally or physically demanding. To put this difference into context, let’s look at a practical example. Imagine that you’re a bartender at a restaurant that is very popular in your town. You work long hours on your feet, often late into the night, keeping up with an ever-increasing string of demands for complicated cocktail orders. It takes a lot of mental and physical agility to remember recipes, sling drinks, and get each customer their order in a timely manner.
On especially tough days, you may have to deal with drunk customers, underage kids trying to sneak in with fake IDs, and jerks who order stupid things just to sound cool. Sounds like a pretty stressful job, right? But what if, in addition to the demands of your job, you also have an awesome relationship with your coworkers? Behind the bar, you laugh together, enjoy each other’s company, and support each other in and outside of work. You have established friendships with regular customers and you take pride in remembering their usual orders. You make good money, have great benefits, and you regularly find joy in your job.
So, even though your average work day might be stressful, you probably wouldn’t describe your job-- or your working environment-- as toxic. Even if there are days when you’d rather not go into work, when you’d prefer to stay home and binge-watch your new favorite show, you probably don’t feel like your job is leeching your very life and soul right out of your body. But what if, by contrast, you work somewhere that regularly makes you feel invalidated and devalued?
You often feel that your effort is not appreciated, that your boss is sadistic and demeaning, and you don’t feel safe to speak up about any of it. To make matters worse, your relationship with your colleagues is contentious-- think Dwight and Jim from The Office, but without the friendly camaraderie. So, every day, when you go to work, you feel unappreciated, undervalued, anxious, and afraid. Now, that’s a toxic workplace!
How Can a Toxic Workplace Affect Your Mental Health?
If your real-life workplace makes you feel like that, then we probably don’t have to tell you that your professional environment is terrible for your mental health. Sustained levels of high stress and anxiety can take a massive toll over time, leaving you with long-term mental health difficulties. A toxic workplace can also cause you to develop poor self-esteem and imposter syndrome. And if you continue to stay in a toxic environment, you might burn out and incur serious consequences for your mental health, your personal life, and your career.
Burnout is a common symptom of most toxic workplaces. It occurs when your limitations are regularly violated and you feel forced to push yourself beyond your limits on a regular basis. Whether you’re frequently asked to work overtime, slammed with an overwhelming workload, or hit with impossible deadlines, burnout can quickly creep up on you as a result of toxic workplace culture. And as you struggle with feeling burned out, you may feel bad about yourself, question your skills, or feel unable to get anything done in any amount of time. All of these things can have a serious impact on your mental health!
So, if your workplace is exhibiting any of the behaviors on this list, it may be time to recognize the fact that you’re in a toxic situation. And, for many people, acknowledging that your workplace is toxic is the first step to helping yourself escape that situation. Although this may not be possible for everyone, you should try to leave your current job and find a healthier alternative if you can at all! You may even want to take time off between jobs so you can decompress, evaluate your mental health, and connect with a therapist. Therapy can help you work through the emotions and experiences you’ve been through as a result of your toxic workplace.
Although many people think that something has to be “wrong” for you to need therapy, the truth is that therapy is for everybody! Whether you’re struggling with your mental health or not, therapy is an awesome resource that can help you become your best, healthiest self. So, no matter what you’re experiencing, therapy can help! And if you feel like you may be struggling with depression as a result of your toxic workplace, you can take this free depression test from Mind Diagnostics to evaluate your symptoms. Although this test is not meant to replace a professional diagnosis, it can help you learn more about your symptoms and the resources that are available to you.
If you’re struggling in a toxic workplace, you should know that you don’t have to suffer in silence! You can reach out for help and create a happier, healthier future for yourself in every aspect of your life.