How To Stay Sane In A Toxic Office

by Raven Ishak

While even working in a healthy office environment comes with a handful of stressors, there's nothing worse than going to a job that's just completely horrible. Knowing how to stay sane in a toxic office may feel like more work you have to partake in during your 9-to-5, but in the long run, these tips will possibly help you stay positive.

Whether it's because your boss doesn't know how to manage their employees or you're dealing with lazy coworkers who just don't care about their job anymore, working under these type of conditions are never fun for anyone. According to Psych Central, working in a negative environment can impact your personal life. It can damage your self-esteem, your health, and may even make you depressed. While feeling slightly stressed out from your job might be considered normal, feeling uninspired or sad about your current work situation should only go so far. In any case, your job doesn't define who you are as a person. Yes, some positions are better than others, but if you feel like your current job is not making you happy for whatever reason, then it might be time to make some personal changes. Below are just a few tips that should help you cope while you're working in a toxic work environment.

1. Have A Positive Mindset

If your work environment is a huge bummer, using techniques that will help keep you positive can make your job more bearable. "There are many small stress reducing techniques that people can do to calm down at the office, including ways to do short visualizations and meditations. However, I think the most important thing is for you to let it calmly be known that you want to be positive, to stay out in the negativity, and that you want to do your job and be peaceful," says psychologist Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC in an interview with Bustle over email.

2. Tune Out

Don't let the negativity in the office distract you. In certain circumstances, you might need to add barriers to keep yourself focused. "Tune things out if allowed. If you have a workplace that will let you bring headphones and listen to music while working, this can have a calming and productive effect on you. It lowers heart rate, and increases focus by tuning out outside distractions," says Martinez.

3. Find Humor In Everyday Work Situations

If you look at your work situation from a negative viewpoint all the time, you just might lose your mind. Instead of complaining about your job 24/7, learn to laugh about certain situations with your other coworkers or friends. "Sometimes the best remedy is trading stories with a close friend [outside of the office] and finding humor and comfort in knowing you're not alone," said workplace legal expert and former prosecutor Robin Bond in an interview with Monster.

4. Don't Bring Work Issues Home With You

While venting about your negative emotions can sometimes make you feel better, it actually could be doing more harm. According to Wall Street Journal, research shows that constantly talking about negative work situations at home can make the problems worse.

5. Don't Engage In The Office Gossip

Yes, gossiping can sometimes be good to do with your colleagues, but if you're constantly engaging in this negative act, you might want to stop and create some boundaries. "Have a signal at your desk when you are working and [do not want] to be bothered. Some people set up a 'flag system' by their desk that let's others know they are busy and not to bother them if it is up. This helps make a visual cue that you are not to be disturbed and helps to keep you out of the negativity. This just adds an extra layer to keep you out of the gossip and negativity, and gives the impression that you are focused and are not able to be bothered," says Martinez.

6. Find Inspiration Elsewhere

Sometimes a toxic work environment can really suck all of your energy. If your workplace isn't inspiring you anymore, you might want to look elsewhere. "Physically removing yourself and changing your environment for a brief time can have the effect of a 'reset' on your day. You need to get away and take the space," says Martinez.

7. Take Breaks Every Now And Then

In today's society, some workers feel guilty taking a break during their office hours. While you might feel lazy doing this, it's actually very important for you to do to deal with toxic work environments. "You can make sure that you take short breaks throughout the day. You are entitled to them, and a brief walk, or change in atmosphere, can make a huge difference. Hide in your car for 10 minutes and listen to the radio and just breathe. Getting a little space can do wonders," says Martinez.

8. Focus On Improving Yourself

Instead of shutting down and losing motivation of being a good employee, try to remember that your work environment doesn't define who you are as a worker. According to Forbes, while you're working in a negative environment, focus on improving yourself so you can take those new skills to your possible new future job.

9. Take The Initiative To Find A Solution

Instead of contemplating leaving your job just yet, try to see if you can suggest a new solution to fix the toxic work environment. According to Daily Worth, psychologist and career development expert Dr. Thomas Tavantzis said, "Poor morale and a toxic environment can be masked by employees banding together. See if there is any awareness of what might be going on. This also serves to put you in the role of not being part of the problem, but part of the solution."

10. Keep Positive Messages Around Your Desk

Having positive quotes or pictures of loved ones around your desk may make you feel better when you're work environment is becoming negative. "Keep images and sayings that inspire and calm you around your desk. Read them and look at them when you feel yourself getting worked up. They are visual reminders of what matters to you, and that this moment will pass. Positive sayings, and the visual of positive people in your life, can have a profoundly positive impact on your mood, quickly," says Martinez.

11. Don't Take Things Personally

It can be really hard not to take anything personally, especially when it has to do with your work. But sometimes it's just not healthy to always take the responsibility of other employees' actions. According to Fast Company, Psychologist Paul White said, "One of the things humans are really bad at is misattributing the reasons for others’ behaviors." Instead of focusing on what others are doing, just continue to work on yourself.

12. Associate Yourself With Positive Coworkers

Hanging out with positive people at work can really turn your negative office environment upside down. "Choose to associate with positive people who don't exude toxic qualities. Learn from them, support them, and spend the majority of your socializing time with them," says Jeff Sanders, author of The 5 AM Miracle, in an interview with Bustle over email.

13. Focus On Gratitude

Counting your blessings is a great way to stay positive in a toxic work environment. It can remind you why you originally got the job in the first place and how far you've come to get there. "It's easy to hyper-focus on the most negative people at work because they often suck the energy out of everyone around them. However, if you look around for the good, you will likely be able to identify the good around you. Studies show that gratitude is strongly linked to happiness," says psychologist Kim Chronister, PsyD in an interview with Bustle over email.

14. Regain Your Identity

It can be easy to lose your identity if you've been in a toxic work environment for far too long. Your self-esteem could be suffering and you might be feeling depressed. But that doesn't mean you can't bounce back from it. "If you have lost yourself in a toxic job, it's important to being re-establishing your identity outside of work. You may begin researching the business you've always wanted to own, enroll in classes for your career, join a sports team, or pick back up a passion project you left behind. Regaining your identity is crucial when you are coping with a toxic work environment," says Chronister.

15. Leave Your Job

Hopefully you won't have to reach this point, but if you're job is just not doing it for you anymore, then you might want to leave. According to Life Hacker, too many people decide to stick it out at their jobs even when they know it's gone south. Don't be afraid to admit that you have to pull the plug on your current position because it's gotten too toxic for you to handle. Look for a new job that will inspire you and make you into a better person.

No one should have to deal with working in a toxic office, but thankfully there are ways around it by using a few of these tips.

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