(AscendHealthy.com) – Working with good people may make us feel valued and understood. But when a workplace is toxic, every day might be stressful, upsetting, and even bad for our health. Recognizing the signs of a toxic workplace — and how to deal with it — may help us make the right choices about our working environment.
The Health Risks of Workplace Toxicity
Working in a toxic environment may take a toll on a person’s physical health. Common issues with these environments include fatigue, high blood pressure, and a lowered immune system response that may make us more susceptible to illness. In addition, the risks of heart attack and stroke are also higher in people who work in toxic environments due to the stress that toxic workplaces put on the body.
Mental health may also suffer. Anxiety and depression levels may be much higher in people who deal with unhealthy work environments. We may transfer these negative emotions into our non-working lives, too, where they might affect other activities. People who work in toxic environments may also find they develop negative outlooks on other parts of life and struggle with paranoia. So, what are the main warning signs of a toxic work environment?
Warning Sign #1: People Don’t Speak Up
When people don’t feel they can speak up in meetings, it may be due to a toxic workplace. People who speak out or share ideas want to be able to do so safely. If they’re always criticized or even laughed at, they’ll stop sharing. Additionally, they won’t share if they know their boss will take credit.
To reduce the impact of a toxic workplace, don’t be afraid to speak up. Someone has to do it, and it may help others start to do the same. Many people fear job loss or retaliation if they speak up about a toxic work environment, but that’s the only way to change it. Part of advocating for change in this type of workplace may require having the self-confidence to stand our ground — and even quit if we have to — to create change.
Warning Sign #2: There’s a Lot of Turnover
Are people always leaving the workplace? Are new people hired all the time? If a workplace feels like a revolving door, there’s usually a reason for that. Sometimes, the job may be very difficult or unpleasant, but it’s often because the workplace is toxic. People don’t stay because they don’t want to be subjected to it.
Other than quitting, which may be a viable option, there are some ways to reduce turnover. Treating coworkers well may help them want to stay, and anyone in a supervisory position may also want to focus on how they’re interacting with their subordinates. Good treatment for a close colleague may help mitigate the toxic environment.
Warning Sign #3: Criticism and Gossip are Common
Offices and other workplaces may always have people who gossip. It’s a normal part of working life for many people. But if the workplace is full of gossip and criticism, that may indicate a toxic work environment. These types of interactions often go hand-in-hand with bullying and related behaviors, none of which are acceptable in the workplace.
To reduce the impact of this toxic workplace trait in your life, don’t participate in it. By refusing to join in the gossip, we send a message that we don’t want to be part of that culture at work. The same is true for criticism, which has its place but should be kept to a minimum and should be constructive, so it has value to the person hearing it.
Warning #4: Your Mood is Very Different
It makes sense that most of us are generally happier when we’re not working because we can engage in other things we enjoy. But if work mood and off-work moods are radically different, that may be something worth considering. It might indicate that the workplace is toxic, and going there every day affects mental health.
While it may not be possible to avoid a toxic workplace completely, reducing its impact is important. Practicing self-care techniques and looking for ways to feel healthier, more relaxed, and more balanced outside of working hours may help. That might have the potential to reduce how much a toxic working environment affects mood. If we find that we are overwhelmed or unable to control the distress we feel, it might be time to consult a counselor or therapist for advice on coping strategies to assist us.
Recognizing a toxic workplace is an essential first step in changing it. Whether that means speaking up, avoiding gossip, changing departments, or even quitting a job, we need to protect our physical and mental health. There will be other jobs, but we’re unique and have to take care of ourselves. Taking care of our bodies and minds may be much easier without the influence of workplace toxicity.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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