• Toxic work environments mess you up mentally and physically
  • Focus on healing yourself first so that you have the strength to look for another job
  • Set aside time every night to look and interview for new opportunities
  • Set plans to jump ship when the right new job comes by 
Breathe in… Breathe out.


Breath iiiiiinnnnn...

Fuck, maybe you can’t do this after all, you tell yourself.

You just got out of a meeting with your asshole boss. It was yet another verbal lashing about something so insignificant. If anybody had walked into the meeting, they’d think that you’d bankrupted the company - that’s how bad it was.

And it’s not just limited to you. Everyone’s at each other’s throat. The office brutality seems to be part of the company culture.

You start noticing that normal social norms of other offices don’t exist here.

There are no friendly water cooler chats. There’s no fun chatter about weekend plans or about the new series that was just released.

It’s the exact opposite.

Every week, either you or someone else is sniffling and holding back tears at their desk. And, on a nearly daily basis, there’s some kind of yelling session happening somewhere.

The unfortunate thing is that because you’ve been exposed to this for so long, you’ve become a bit used to it. But, it still hurts. Every. Single. Time.

You feel like quitting your job every time you set foot in the office.

But, you’ve made excuses to stick around for way too long.

No more.

It’s time to press the eject button and GTFO.

What A Toxic Work Environment Does To You

You don’t need to be told that if the most recent and possibly the only moments in your adult life that you’ve shed tears most deeply was at work, then you need to leave that job - FAST!

We get it - it’s a major life decision. But so is the effect that your work environment has on you. Let’s break it down.

1. Screws Up Your Mental Health

It makes sense that a place that makes you feel undervalued and may even go to some extent to bully and harass you will cause harm to your mental health.

This study by the Sustainability Journal explains the impact of different kinds of toxic workplace characteristics on productivity using depression as a mediating factor.

It found out that toxic workplace characteristics such as bullying, harassment, and incivility lead to depression at work which further leads to a reduction in performance.

Put more simply, it just makes you feel like shit all the time. And when that happens, it tanks your work output and kills what little happiness you have.

Nothing is worth the price of your mental health, to be honest.

2. Messes You Up Physically

Anyone who has suffered from mental health issues understands that the consequences aren’t just limited to what happens mentally. It can also take a toll on your body.

It’s like the body is quickly alerted by your mind about how much you’re suffering, even though no one can see it, and your body begins to react.

It could be weight gain through stress eating or weight loss through a total loss of appetite, insomnia, bodily pains, etc. It could also be things like high blood pressure, hair loss and skin breakouts and rashes.

A core effect of a toxic environment is stress and this research by the EXCLI journal of clinical sciences explains how stress leads to various pathological diseases. You become less immune to illnesses because your body’s natural defenses are weak.

Moreover, stress leads to other vices such as smoking, alcohol and substance abuse which degrade physical health and affect other areas of a person’s life.

In other words, it’s a rough cycle that you don’t want to be caught up in.

3. Derails Your Emotional Stability

Working in a toxic environment can make you feel like you’re walking on eggshells. This high tension, low reward environment makes you feel continually wound up.

You have no outlet to vent at work and unload all the bullshit. And even if you did, the rage would just come back at you multiple times over, so you bury it deep inside yourself.

It makes you bottle up your emotions and release them on unsuspecting people outside of work. And in many cases, those innocent targets are your family and closest friends. It turns you into a royal asshole.

And what little happiness you have, doesn’t stand a chance of surviving, much less growing.

How Do You Know If You’re In A Toxic Work Environment?

Well, if you’ve noticed all of the above symptoms, that is, changes to your physical, mental, and emotional health, you’re most likely working in a toxic work environment.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that every job is a piece of cake and won’t have its stress points. There’s definitely bound to be moments in all jobs when you’re doing nothing but putting out fires all day or in really bad situations, shit hits the fan and you need to be able to handle that.

But if this is happening all the time, coupled with some outright toxic behavior such as harassment and bullying, you’re in a toxic work environment.

Let’s go a bit deeper.

1. Zero Help Or Support 

You’re in a toxic environment if your company requires that you do your job without getting any kind of adequate support. You’re left to swim among the sharks.

In a positive environment, you have support from a good manager and fellow team members. Everyone helps each other out.

Support also comes in various forms: an enabling work environment, training resources, the right tools, opportunities to express your views to upper management, options for career mobility and progression, etc.

This research shows how organizational chaos and lack of opportunities for skills acquisition characterizes a toxic work environment and reduces employee engagement.

Not that you needed the proof, but it’s there. 

2. Nobody Gets Any Recognition

Here’s another dead giveaway that you’re potentially in a toxic workplace - nobody gets any kind of positive recognition.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Employees get called out on mistakes all the time and often get a verbal lashing in front of others. It creates a workplace where people just fend for themselves.

And, in some cases, it can lead to cutthroat cultures too.

There’s that one coworker that throws you under the bus and takes credit for your work.

There’s your boss who doesn’t give a shit and couldn’t care less.

And don’t even get us started about the pain-in-the-ass coworkers who contribute zero to the project and only create more problems for you.

3. Constant Abuse

Abuse here comes in all forms: psychological, emotional, mental, sexual, and even physical.

It’s one thing for your boss and coworkers to have a rough day or week. It’s quite another for them to take it out on you.

When the overall culture of the office is driven predominantly by abusive tactics, there’s no chance for any positivity or happiness to take hold. It’s a just a fucking hell hole of a place.

There is really no justification for this sort of working environment and you need to pull the ripcord and bail out fast.

4. Leadership Through Fear And Intimidation

We saw this all the time in high school and college when we thought those snotty-faced kids didn’t know any better. But at work? It’s a totally different ball game.

This is work peer pressure at a whole new level that is multiple times worse.

When your asshole boss always threatens you with termination or something just as crazy, or your coworkers seem to be in a competition for who rats you out first to the boss, you know that fear and intimidation rule at work.

This isn’t an egalitarian office where people are helping each other out. It’s a dictatorship that uses negative tactics to drive results.

5. No Accountability Whatsoever

You know there’s zero accountability when you’re overworked, underpaid, completely forgotten, and nobody gives a fuck.

It’s also a given that backstabbers thrive in an environment with zero accountability. It’ll only be a matter of time until you become their victim if you haven’t been already.

And when the office environment is nothing but a blamestorming session everyday, nobody wants to take any accountability for anything, including their own work.

Who would want to?

They’d just get flamed for it whether it was justified or not.

6. Everyone Feels Like An Outcast

If on the first days of work, you feel new and haven’t settled yet, that’s completely okay. It’s normal. People adjust to new situations differently.

But after the first few months, say six months or so, if you still feel like an outsider, then you need to evaluate yourself and the situation.

It could be the people there who don’t make you feel welcome or that you just don’t vibe with the general culture or that the work is unsatisfactory. That’s a sign that that job isn’t for you.

Take a look around and see how others are holding up too. If they’re under the same sentiment, it just verifies everything.

Priority #1 - Healing & Self Care

Now that you’ve identified what a toxic environment looks like and what it does to you, we hope you understand how it’s in your best interest to leave and leave fast.

But first, you need to get yourself in order so that you have the mental, emotional and physical energy to devote to making plans to get out.

YOU come first. Repeat that.

You must take care of yourself no matter how busy you are. Even while you search for a new job, you gotta create more me-time for yourself so that you can heal and get strong.

Here are some great self-care strategies:

1. Meditate To Heal The Wounds

Meditation is all about keeping you calm and balanced. You can do some yoga, listen to uplifting music, play your favorite podcast, pray, or just spend some minutes in silence.

Block out time for this in your calendar every day.

You can reflect on the day ahead, reflect on the day that ended, go through some confidence affirmations, or listen along to nature and its music.

Keep yourself calm and at peace, because you need that to survive and get through that work environment and until you can leave.

2. Get Things Off Your Chest

It’s very easy to vent but you should vent to the right people.

Speak to your work BFF and colleagues at work that you trust including senior people and let them understand your predicament. It’s possible that they’ve been there before and can guide you and they could even help get you your new job.

If you don’t trust anybody at work (which is a true sign of a toxic environment), try speaking to your friends about it.

3. Easy Exercise And Eat Right

When we talk about taking care of ourselves, you know that exercising and healthy eating will always be on the list.

We get that you’re stressed and you want to finish the whole carton of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and the full box of Snickers. We’re not even judging that you’ve not walked more than a full street block in a week.

But you need to understand that you’re compounding the problem.

You gotta get up and move your body, even if it’s just a brisk walk around your neighborhood every night. Or more ideally, take a walk in nature to really decompress.

Don’t set the bar super high. You’re not training for a marathon. You can do low sweat workouts at the office.

Start small and keep at it.

Doing realistic and achievable light exercise daily and eating right most of the time is the key to making this work. 

4. Change Your Mindset

Phew! This one’s tough.

Look, you’re still going to be at the company for the next few months as you plan your exit strategy. In the meantime, carrying all the negative baggage won’t make things easier.

You need to change your mindset and keep a positive attitude at work so that you get through this.

Think of the next few months as a learning curve that you’ll be going through until you find a better job. Think about what you will and won’t do in your next job based on this.

Start practicing for how you want the next job to be and think of this as the transition.

5. Seek Therapy If You Need It

Just like a bad relationship or marriage gone sour, working in a toxic environment can mess you up mentally.

There is no shame whatsoever in seeking therapy or counseling to get through this. You need to manage work stress during these times and asking for help shows courage and self-awareness.

So if you feel that this is a step you want to take that’ll help in your self-recovery, take it!

Priority #2 - The Job Search

Now that you’ve taken care of yourself and are in a better frame of mind, let’s talk about the job search.

Remember, it’s always easier to get a job when you have a job so this process may be easier than you think!

Here’s how.

1. Identify What Parts Of Your Job You Like And Dislike

Now it’s time for a bit of soul searching.

For you to understand what you want in your next job, you have to understand what it is you dislike about the current one. Is it the culture? The people? The management? The role itself? The pay?

What part dissatisfies you and will make you not choose this job again?

However, remember that when you went into this job, you had high hopes. What drew you to it? What still makes you hesitate when you think about leaving?

Answer all of this precisely and use it to paint the picture of what you want your new job to be.

2. Identify What You Want Your Next Job To Be Like

With the picture of the new job you have above, list specifically what you want from your new role.

Specify the job description. The industry. The culture. The pay. The work-life balance.

Identify the hard-line qualities in the new job that you can’t compromise at all. If the job doesn’t have these, you don’t want it.

Identify the qualities that you’re willing to be flexible on. Maybe you can do without an in-house cafeteria in the new job because the company makes allowances for lunch breaks which is one of your hard-line qualities.

3. Update Your Resume, LinkedIn, And Other Social Media Profiles

Have a document where you put every single professional achievement in results-based bullet points. Go through your journals, notes, and emails to refresh yourself on some of these achievements.

Make this your “database of achievements”.

Next, have an editable resume template. Then with each job opportunity, select only the bullet points that match the job description and tweak as necessary.

Be targeted in your job search so that you land a job that meets your values - so let your resume and LinkedIn profile reflect that.

Lastly, clean up your social media profiles. Companies do perform background checks that include social media. So, delete anything that might ding your reputation.

4. Build More Skills & Make Yourself Competitive

No matter the area you’re getting into, you want to stand out. Go the extra mile and get those skills that you know will make you more attractive, even though the job description says it’s optional.

There are a bunch of free online courses that you can take to improve your skills without spending a dime.

If you’re looking to transition to a totally different industry, this is a must-do. You’ll want to become “a student of the industry” and learn as much as you can. You need to become well-versed in that industry so that you can grab that opportunity.

5. Reach Out To Your Network

Reach out to as many people as you can to let them know you’re looking for a role. Friends, family, friends of friends, etc. even if they don’t have or know of any open roles, ask them if they can pass along your resume.

Ask nicely, though. And make sure you’re not only taking but giving as well.

If you’re looking at a completely new industry, you can create a new network by cold emailing or cold LinkedIn messaging people.

6. Set Time Everyday For Job Search Tasks

Just as you set time to take care of yourself, set time every single day to do something job-related. This will help you get in the zone with your search.

Set aside one hour every night to knock out a few job search tasks. Focus and monotask during this hour.

You could alternate what you want to do to give you more variety. Take a course today, update your profile tomorrow, send a few networking emails the next day, go for a coffee chat another day etc.

It’s easier to get a job while working because you’re not explaining a ‘gap’ and you can easily craft a story.

7. Build A Savings Buffer

You need to prepare for any outcome so you need a savings buffer. Try to cut back on your spending during this time so that you can build up a cash stash quickly.

You can start small by saving every single cent - we mean that. Every little bit you save builds up and can make a difference.

Remember that on average, for every $10,000 you want to make as salary, you’ll need to search for one month. So a $60,000 salary will require 6 months of job search - and you’ll need 6 months of savings to sustain you during this search.

You could also work a lunchtime side hustle to kick up some extra cash too.

8. Save Personal Time Off (PTO) For Interviews

Using personal time off and vacations are great ways to interview for other roles. It’s the perfect way to discreetly pursue other opportunities while not messing around with your current job.

Got a fancy solo weekend trip you’re thinking about?

Put it on hold and use it for interviews instead.

Have you thought about taking a sick day even when you’re not sick just because you want a mental health day?

Try to get through the day and save it for when you’re really sick.

Don’t get caught in a situation where you have to explain why you’re asking for so many off days even after taking your PTO. You also don’t want it to cause a strain on your relationship with your upper management.

9. Keep An Open Mind

You never know what job/industry will be perfect for you. Keep an open mind during your job search and don’t let your current experiences cloud the wonderful possibilities that await you.

Maybe you’ve never written a line of code in your life but that cybersecurity role seems exciting? Learn about it. Ask people. Take some courses.

Or does that project manager position at your friend’s company seem appealing to you?

Talk to them about it and see if you can get an informal interview to ask questions.

Do not reject yourself or your abilities. There are so many transferable skills you can bring to your new role so keep that in mind during your search.

It’s Time To Move On To A Better, Brighter Future

You’re seeing all the signs for what they are - red flags to get the hell out of the job as soon as you can. And now, you’re going to really do something about it.

First, you’re going to heal yourself emotionally, mentally and physically. You’re going to bring more balance and calm into your personal world.

Next, you’re going to strengthen yourself to be motivated and disciplined to do a little bit every day to move your life towards something better and brighter. It’s all about keeping momentum when things get hard.

And because you’ve always kicked ass at your job, you’ll be able to do the same for another company that will actually respect you and your contributions.

There’ll be no more tears. No more yelling. No more toxic bullshit.

The sooner you get yourself sorted and get things lined up, the sooner you’ll be able to press that ejection button.

Feel Better,

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