Heaven knows it can be tough as hell to motivate yourself to work in a business environment that positions the senseless accumulation of wealth ahead of the development of community spirit and genuinely world-improving products, services, and ways of thought.
When that work environment is further tainted by any combination of workplace bullying, mismanagement, widespread distrust, or a general lack of support and prevalence of negativity, it’s a wonder anybody makes it out of bed on a Monday morning.
If you toil in a workplace like this and dread going in for those reasons, it’s likely you work in what is called a ‘toxic work environment’ – an office (or whatever) working space where negative attitudes and malevolent, greedy, or bitter motivations of others have a negative impact on your mental or physical health.
This sort of environment is highly stressful, and the hormone activity that it stimulates can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. It also makes you susceptible to depression, and the mental and physical health issues that come with it.
And as a once-ambitious professional you may find yourself losing your motivation. You don’t get the same results you used to, nor do you have the drive to do better – which, ironically, harms your chances of moving on to a better position in a more kindly work environment.
Clearly, if just quitting outright is not an option, other steps must be taken to cope with such a challenge.
Your priority should first be to draw as bold a line as possible between your work and private time. It’s not always so easy these days, with employers expecting us to work beyond hours or to complete social media and other tasks outside of office hours. But for the sake of your mental health, you need to reduce the work you do on your own time as far as possible.
And then make sure to fully appreciate your own time. When work is a torment, building a strong, healthy, full life experience beyond the office can offer you strength when you’re in the midst of the awfulness. Unfortunately, when we feel out of control at work, we subconsciously start to try to control things outside of work. That may mean you snap at family members, treat service staff with less than the respect they deserve or even develop your own harmful ‘self-control’ habits such as an eating disorders or alcohol abuse.
Making a concerted effort to control your out-of-work-environment might nip these tendencies in the bud. Make your bed in the morning. Cook your meals from scratch. Make arrangements for after-work activities with your friends and family. When you plan and accomplish achievements like these, you can mentally tick them off as ‘wins’ and help to reframe your mind into a more positive state.
You can also put aside some time to create an escape plan from work, even if it’s not immediately executable. Identify simple steps that you can take to improve your prospects, such as development programs you can enroll in, courses, networking events, and contacts you can reach out to with a work inquiry.
All these steps should help you to become more confident and bullet-proof in the workplace. And they will equip you to start doing what you can to improve the environment for yourself. There, you can start to work on identifying who are the negative forces that are dragging you down each day. The ones who steal or crush your ideas, blame you for their own failings or make others feel bad with their bullying behavior. Do your best to start avoiding these people where possible.
Go to others for help. Start to build a support group of the positive, helpful people around you. They may not always be the obvious ones. Sometimes, your quiet, unnoticed colleagues are also just trying to get by in a toxic environment. Show them strength and support – it doesn’t always require a conversation. A nod of acknowledgment, picking up after somebody’s innocent mistake, holding a door open, are all simple gestures that can bring a community together.
And at the end of the day, when you go home, look after your body and mind. Take a walk. Take a long bath. Do some stretches. Read a book. Switch off your internet connection. And revise your resume. With discipline, self-care, and community, you needn’t be trapped in a toxic work environment forever.
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