A recent study by The University of Manchester found that individuals who moved from unemployment into poor quality work actually become more chronically stressed than those who remained without a job. The findings help to reinforce a quiet yet devious concern that has increasingly troubled the modern professional: the unhealthiness of regularly operating in a negative work environment.
How Your Work Environment Can Hurt Your Mental Health
There are many culprits that have been pointed out when it comes to discovering just what effects a negative work environment can have on an individual’s mental health. While it would be presumptuous to assume one of these is primarily responsible, it’s worth fleshing out a few of the major ways that a toxic job can impact your mind:
Often the stress and strain begins at, well, the beginning. The stress, length, and expense of commuting on a regular basis can have a significant effect on your mood, thoughts, and emotions as you begin and end each workday.
Once you’re immersed in your toxic work environment, things can quickly go from bad to worse. One of the leading causes of mental stress in the workplace is the simple fact that employees aren’t always treated well by their employers or coworkers. One study found that half of surveyed workers, when asked, reported that they had been treated rudely at work at least once a month. This negative behavior impacts the mental state of everyone involved.
The American culture expects incredible levels of commitment to an employer and a company. This has led to as much as 40% of US and Canadian office workers feeling burned out on a regular basis. While burnout can certainly be physical in nature, the struggle is largely a mental one as well.
Even the solution of working from home doesn’t always solve the impact of a negative work environment. The careless remote worker can still mentally suffer from excessive screen usage, poor lighting and ventilation, a cluttered workspace, and a lack of work-life balance.
It should also be pointed out that there are also quite a few physical concerns that can creep in if a person struggles with mental fatigue and stress from work:
- Frequent upset stomachs
- Difficulty sleeping
- Hair loss
How To Maintain Your Mental Wellness While Working
While there are plenty of reasons to justify feeling mentally unhealthy from work, it often remains in the hands of you, the employee, to do your best to remedy the situation. Sure, a thoughtful manager or a socially responsible employer may make an effort to help their employees, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you to make the best of your situation.
Here are a few tips to help you find mental wellness again, even in a toxic work environment:
Set Yourself Up
Start with your physical health. If you’re physically well, you’ll be able to confront mental stresses and strains easier. Strive to eat well, exercise regularly, and set up a good sleep routine that is tailored to your professional work needs.
Establish A Morning Routine
Next, make sure that you have a good morning routine in place. Look for activities and patterns that help you wake up and get ready with a positive attitude. This can be sitting on the porch with your coffee, starting a fire in the fireplace, meditating and praying, going for a run, taking a shower, or anything else that helps you start your day on the right foot.
Embrace The Commute
If you can’t escape the daily commute that’s okay. Instead, treat it as a time to unwind and reflect. Soak up the sunshine in the morning, let your mind slow down in the evening, listen to music, put on a podcast or audiobook, and treat it as a well-deserved rest. If driving stresses you out, plan in an extra ten or fifteen minutes of commuting time each day so that you can take a less busy route to work.
Strive For Balance In Your Work
When it comes to balancing your workload, it’s important to learn to say no, to unplug from your electronics when you aren’t working, and to resist the need to be a perfectionist. Look for purpose both inside and outside of your occupation too. If you feel fulfilled by your work and you have a life outside of your daily employment, it will help you survive the stress and anxiety of the workplace.
Overcoming A Toxic Workplace
While there is always the solution of quitting your job and heading to a new position, sometimes the answer to workplace toxicity simply lies within yourself. If you can become an agent for positive change within your own life, you can become a beacon of hope for your coworkers. You can even eventually champion causes within your workplace in order to fight for the mental health of your fellow employees.
However, it all starts with a simple acknowledgment of the state of your mental health and a willingness to do something to remedy the situation.