What to Do When You’re Stuck in a Toxic Work Environment
Your alarm goes off and you can’t think of anything you’d rather do less than make your way to the office…sound familiar? If you’re there, you already know that a happy work environment is everything — it increases your energy, makes you more productive, allows for friendly interactions with coworkers, and provides better overall work satisfaction.
So, what do you do when the office isn’t exactly the sunniest of places? Dealing with a toxic work environment is a challenge, and you aren’t alone, but there are practices you can put in place to help keep the feng shui. If you’re just about ready to pull your hair out after a long day at work, then give these practices a try:
Work can be tough, especially when you’re walking into an environment that feels negative or draining. You have more control than you think, though, and your mindset can work wonders. Before entering into the office, think about the positive mindspace that you want to be in and use that to propel you.
Throughout the day, make it a practice of checking in with yourself and seeing if you feel the way you set out to. Find those moments when you can do things that put you in a positive space, whether it’s enjoying music, taking a walk outside, writing positive notes, or finding a few minutes for a quick meditation.
Get some perspective
Getting frustrated with competitive coworkers or supervisors who are the bottleneck for your work? Instead of letting the stress get to you, try to find a little perspective and look for the humor in the situation! Life’s dramas have a way of getting the best of us at times.
By taking a step back from a toxic situation (or person), we can pinpoint the silliness at the root of these office dramas. Think of a day at work like a TV sitcom and channel that good humored energy into letting things go.
Obviously, a more serious situation might bring things up that just aren’t that funny, and perspective is important there too — you deserve to work in a safe, respectful environment, and to seek out support to help you get there.
Leave your troubles at the door
Carrying past grievances home with you and back to work everyday is a surefire way to tire yourself out, and quick! When you leave the office, try not to let that stress follow you — compartmentalize.
To get things off your chest, write down how you feel. Scribble out as furiously as you want about what’s stressing you out, the situation that’s making you rip your hair out, or the comment your colleague made that made you so mad. Once you’re done, ball it up and throw it in the trash! This method also works if you talk out through your feelings, and give yourself the chance to process your emotions.
Start a gratitude practice
Why not make a list everyday of the things you enjoy about your work environment? At first, this practice may be a bit of a challenge, but over time you may find that the more earnest you are about finding positive aspects of your job, the easier it’ll come.
It can be as simple as noting how much you love the coffee flavors in the kitchen, or being grateful you’ve got an elevator in the office. When looking for things to be grateful for at work nothing is too small or out of the question!
Make a list of what made you want to work there in the first place and keep it close.
Stay out of the mix
So, you know that saying “if you can’t beat ’em, join ‘em?” Here, you want to do the complete opposite. Don’t engage! When gossip starts floating around the office, or a toxic teammate wants to pull you into the mix, excuse yourself from the conversation and stay out of it.
It may seem fun at first to poke a little fun while at work, but you may soon find that you become an ear for more toxicity than what you’re hoping to handle. Plus, if a colleague is willing to gossip TO you, they’re also willing to gossip ABOUT you.
Better to just get your string of garlic, and let the energy vampires know you’re not with it.
Dress up your space with things that bring you joy
If your space allows it, change up the feng shui. Decorate a small desk with photos of family and friends, succulents or similarly small greenery, or colorful desk accessories. Turn your workspace into a fun-filled station where you can soak up the joy. Create your own little bubble of productivity and watch those negative feelings wash away!
Seek out positive colleagues
Surround yourself with folks who give you good vibes. Make friends around the office and find people who can be there for support (whether it’s getting a coffee when you need to vent about something or helping you practice your pitch before a big meeting).
Keeping colleagues around you that don’t participate in the work drama, stay positive, and focus on boosting their productivity can provide a fresh perspective when dealing with a toxic work environment. Check out how your positive connections at work stay focused on the good and try to bring it into your day to day.
Last resort: Start looking for another job
No one wants to worry about pulling the résumé back out (or updating it, for that matter, but we’ve got some resume tips if you’re looking to do just that), but if you feel you’ve exhausted all your options — bringing the issue to HR, keeping a positive perspective, inquiring about opportunities to work remote — then it might be time to start exploring other options.
It’s better to keep your sanity and to find a more suitable work environment than to come home drained. Be sure to use your next interview as a way to find out more about the company culture and help avoid some of the red flags that came up at your present workplace.
Leaving work s-t-r-e-s-s-e-d is not a fun way to end the day, and doesn’t help you bring your best professional self to the office. Dealing with a toxic environment can leave you not only drained and hitting the snooze button one too many times in the morning, it can also make your friends or roommate’s want to keep their distance after a bad day.
Looking for more ways to keep a bright and sunny disposition in a toxic work environment? Master your morning routine for a successful day , advocate for yourself , or find a mentor who can help you navigate tough work situations.
Orrrr, if you’re looking for a new gig, sign up for Planted so we can help you with that search!
Dronile Hiraldo is a New York city born and bred writer with a love for writing, travel, entrepreneurship and wellness. She credits her East Coast upbringing in Washington Heights for empowering her love of Selena, pop culture, and social activism. When she’s not deep in a new book, she loves tinkering with photography, eating donuts, and listening to Michael Jackson.
Original version of featured image by energepic.com.
Originally published at www.planted.com.