Day 4 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge
I have hinted in other posts that I used to work in a very toxic environment. I always knew that were cliches, but I had made friends and at first, I was managing well. Even if things did feel a little off with some of the others who worked there. I did feel sometimes dismissed by them. Or left out. It was awkward, but I learned to avoid them.
Over time however, the work place became more entrenched in cliches, and more toxic. And the more toxic it became, the more tired I was, the more I thought people were out to get me, and the less I enjoyed my job. It so bad that I didn’t want to go to work. I took days off just to be away from there.
So What is a Toxic Work Place?
Toxic work places are any work environment where the work or the people, or the atmosphere or a combination of these, cause disruption and intrusion to the rest of your life, including your health. This is not a place anyone wants to be considering we spend a lot of time at work. And from experience, I can tell you, it is stressful and for me, traumatizing.
I remember feeling trapped at work. The work itself was not always easy, and I felt unable to really do my job many days due to the conditions there. But I blamed myself. And the more I blamed myself, the more stressed and anxious I became. I tried asking for help, but there was none to be found. I felt as though it was my fault. That I needed to be better.
In the end, I took a short term (too short a term really) leave due to stress. I was an exhausted mess. I had butterflies in my stomach and my heart would race. My mind never stopped, it was constantly swirling with thoughts, most of which only heightened my stress and anxiety. I couldn’t get work off my mind. I was tired all the time. And I found I couldn’t think straight at work, I’d forget things and had no motivation. As I said, I was a mess.
Signs of a Toxic Work Place
The first thing you may notice (like me) is cliches. People who are always together, whispering. In my case, they had special spots at the lunch table. No one else sat around them and I soon learned why. They’d whisper and leave you out of the conversation, and you’d sit there feeling awkward.
With cliches of course, comes drama and gossip. Do you feel like you’re work place is a high school? Or worse, a high school TV drama? From this, in my case, came back stabbing. People would tell you something and ask you not to say anything, but then you’d hear about it from someone else. There was always the “but she said…” or “I heard from…” and facts and stories were always slightly different. High school drama.
Another sign you might be in a toxic work place is poor communication. Usually this from a boss who is tyrannical even if he or she seems friendly. Is your boss willing to listen to your concerns, or support you when you ask for help? Or do you leave the conversation feeling put in your place or somehow as though you’ve crossed the line? Even though you know you haven’t? It could also be from co-workers who agree to one thing and then renege.
There is no growth. No one wants to change or try new things. Everyone wants the status quo to remain. You’ve tried to tackle new projects or new opportunities only to be turned away.
Everyone has a bad attitude. This could be just the general feeling no one smiles or says good morning, or it could also include people having a negative take on everything–the work, the boss, others in the office, and the red tape. In my work place everyone seemed to have a negative opinion about everything. From the new copy machines to the staff social.
Last but not least, high turnover. Are people fleeing your place of work like they would a swarm of killer bees? You’d better believe it’s because they whenever they are going, the pastures are greener. Because the pastures of your work place are dry and yellow and unable to sustain even the smallest of creatures. So if it feels like anywhere is better than your work place, it’s time to start thinking about a change.
Protecting Your Mental Health in A Toxic Work Place
Until you can get out of this environment, be sure to protect your mental health. Take all the sick days you can afford to take. And your vacation. Don’t go in early, and don’t work from home or stay late to work. And be sure to practice self care.
You may think this is easier said than done, but it is necessary. You can use the time off to recharge or look for new work. If you can’t take too much time off, be sure to indulge in things like yoga, massages, a hobby you enjoy and journalling is always a good way to bring about a catharsis of emotion.
Ever dealt with a toxic work place? Share your thoughts below in the comments.