Staying sane in a toxic workplace

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Stress at work is inevitable. Small amounts keep you on your toes and help you perform at your best. Too much of it? It can tip you over the edge, especially if it’s the result of being in a toxic work environment.

Office drama, nasty bosses and miserable employees are common signs of a toxic work environment. So are a high turnover rate and low productivity. Basically, people don’t want to do their jobs because they feel unhappy, undervalued and unmotivated. 

If you find yourself trapped in a toxic work environment, it’s time to take action. Chronic stress can damage your self-esteem, your health and may even make you depressed. 

A study by the University of Manchester’s Business School found that employees who worked under a narcissistic and tyrannical boss experienced lower rates of job satisfaction. What’s worse, these employees were also more likely to become clinically depressed.

No boss is worth losing your mind over. Before your toxic work environment takes its toll on you, use our tips to cope better and, perhaps, even turn things around. 


1. Find your tribe

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We spend most of our waking hours at work – it’s practically our second home.

This makes the friendships we form with our colleagues really important. Research published in the New York Times bestseller Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements suggests that those who have a best friend in the office are seven times more likely to be engaged with their work. They also have higher levels of productivity and greater job satisfaction. 

Steer clear of negative people and associate yourself with positive people whom you can trust. Become genuine friends with them and support one another when the going gets tough


2. Be a changemaker

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Take steps to shape the work culture instead of just sitting back and letting it affect you. If you are in a position of power, be a positive role model for your subordinates. 

Do you want to create a workplace that’s more supportive? Then praise your team members when they’ve done good work. People like to feel appreciated for their efforts. Do you hate that some people gossip non-stop? Then shut down unhealthy gossip and do not spread any rumours. 

You can create change even if you’re not a manager, by treating your colleagues (even those you dislike) with kindness and respect.


3. Draw clear boundaries


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Make a clear separation between work and your personal life. You want to keep the negativity from your work environment within the confines of your workplace.

At the office, be professional and get things done. After work, switch off and spend time with your loved ones and on your personal interests. Don’t check your e-mail on the weekends or while you’re on leave. Don’t work extra hours unless it’s absolutely necessary. 

Creating boundaries may ruffle some feathers, especially if you have a boss who doesn’t respect boundaries. In such situations, be sure to speak up for yourself. Remember that we teach other people how to treat us.


4. Destress after work

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Don’t let the stress of your nine-to-five get to you.

Find ways to relieve stress once you leave the office so that it doesn’t accumulate. Exercise, for instance, is an effective stress reliever. When you sweat it out, your body releases endorphins, which are chemicals that fight against stress and trigger positive feelings. 

In fact, doing anything that makes you feel happier will help. Going out for a good meal, playing with your pet, or even watching a funny video on Youtube can help you decompress.


5. Plan an exit strategy

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Work on leaving your job if you think you’ve done everything within your control to improve the toxic situation and nothing has changed. Spend time updating your resume and begin the search for new employment

Don’t be afraid to leave your current position. At the end of the day, you’re so much more than just your job. Your mental health and overall happiness comes first.