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Toxic Work Environments

Finding work that you love and are passionate about seems easy, until you discover that even if you do find it, in the professional world, you may still have to navigate work environments that can be extremely toxic. Unfortunately, there are many people in positions of power in professional environments who use their position to abuse, shame, belittle, and micromanage their employees. The worst kinds of bosses, can terrorize their team, leaving them in a state of fear twenty-four seven. It is really important to take stock of your work environment and really assess if it is doing more harm than good to your peace of mind. If you are in a toxic work environment remember that you can either choose to stay, or choose to plan your transition. But it is a choice, and you do have the power to find an environment that nurtures your professional growth and allows for peace of mind. Below are some ways that toxic environments can damage your health.


Depletion of adrenal hormones or lead to stress related diseases. Unfortunately, many people when faced with environments, co-workers, or bosses that make their daily work extremely difficult choose to stay in those situations for years, only to later find that they have gained weight, have hypertension, or other serious chronic health conditions. After staying in a situation where there is repeated stress, your body is eventually going to try to get your attention by producing dis-ease. This is why it is extremely important to note how toxic environments can slowly erode your health, and take immediate precautions if you believe your situation warrants it.


Create Addictions to Negative Emotional States. Over time, if you stay in a toxic work environment you may get addicted to having a bad day. Do you notice that you are always complaining, grumpy, on edge, and nothing seems to be able to snap you out of it? This may mean that over time after repeated experiences that were unpleasant, your mood has now become a personality trait. How do we change this? Well of course you can start looking for other work and planning your exit, but you can also do inner work that slowly changes how you relate to your work environment. This means spending quality time each day with some of mindfulness practice or meditation. Remember you cannot control what happens to you, but you can control whether you respond or react. Mindfulness starts to help us respond and create new ways of looking at the world around us with increased empathy.


Can contribute to a feeling of apathy or paralysis. There’s almost nothing worse than apathy, or that feeling that negative experiences in an environment have literally sucked away any desire you have to contribute. The worst kinds of toxic work environments are the kind that reward sub-par behavior and push back against innovators, or employees who want to make positive changes and shake up the status quo. In any high growth and dynamic company culture, usually the opposite is the same, innovators are given the opportunity to flourish, and there are clear and integrated rewards for employees who go above and beyond the call of duty.


Toxic environments can normalize shame and erode self esteem. Some supervisors consciously or unconsciously make statements that undermine your worth as an employee or a human being. Perhaps your boss tries to make you feel bad for requesting pay that is commensurate with your experience, or they consistently make passive aggressive comments about your performance that leaves you edge and never sure about where you stand with the company. If you are in a situation like this, do yourself a huge favor and run for the hills. After coming up with a suitable game plan of course. This kind of management can do real insidious damage because if you stay long enough your confidence may wane, and you may begin agreeing with the statements made, or even if you survive with some measure of self-esteem you may become bitter and this can affect how you interact with others in the company.

No Self-Care Time

Toxic environments tend to bleed into interpersonal relationships, take away from quality of life, and self-care time. Some toxic environments are toxic simply because they do not allow for adequate work life balance. Is your boss always dumping a pile of papers on your desk right before closing? Do you only have time on the weekends to catch up on sleep and grab groceries? Do you never see your friends, take vacations, or engage in social activities after work? You may be in a toxic work environment, or you may someone who needs to reexamine your relationship with work. There are some of us who believe that our work is our worth and the busier we are the more important we are. Not the case. Living in the land of burnout should not be badge of honor, so it’s important to make sure you are not neglecting your health, self-care, or relationships which are a part of the overall measure of a balanced healthy life. If you are in a toxic environment, setting healthy boundaries is going to be key and having difficult discussions with your superiors. Is it important to work hard yes! But to have all of your evenings taken away and no social support, eventually will cause imbalance in your personal life and health status.

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