You might have heard that stress is a natural and helpful reaction to unexpected changes or a challenging situation, either personal or professional. That is completely true! But being immersed in a stressful work environment, day in and day out, can knock your progress down and crawl into other areas of your life.
Before moving on to the effects of stress on health and behavior, you need to get something straight: you are not solely responsible for a stressful work environment. Yes, your attitude and the way you choose to experience your work life can have a bright and powerful effect, not just on yourself but on your team. However, making sure that there is a good work environment is also part of a company’s culture and responsibility.
In other words, don’t feel like, because you have built a positive mindset, you need to endure a toxic work environment only based on your good intentions. You cannot solve everything by turning yourself into the most optimistic and resilient worker. Holding your company, superiors, and peers accountable and setting healthy boundaries are also ways to promote better practices and relationships in the workplace.
This is not to say that there aren’t people who are easily overwhelmed by stress and need to learn how to deal with it to thrive in their workplace instead of constantly changing jobs. But, since there is a huge risk of letting companies use this as an excuse to get away from their own responsibility, you should pay attention and analyze if it’s just you or if your company’s work culture is starting to take a toll on your physical and mental health.
Here are 4 questions you should ask yourself to identify if the stress you are experiencing at work is truly getting the best out of you.
1. Are you constantly exhausted or sleep-deprived?
Being in a stressful work environment means being drained of your energy. It is exhausting to worry all the time about meeting impossible deadlines, avoiding difficult coworkers or bosses, and getting disrespectful feedback. All this toxicity endangers the quality of your work and the quality of your life.
If you feel like your batteries run out every day and you cannot sleep at night, analyze if it’s because your mind is being consumed by your crazy deadlines, your unpleasant coworker, or the anxiety of going back to work the next day.
2. Is your mental or physical health being compromised?
Again, stress is not always bad. It is a natural reaction of your body that helps you react in a challenging situation or keep focused when you are under pressure. However, when you can’t lower your stress levels because you are being constantly challenged, this will start messing with your physical and mental health. Soon enough, this can manifest in your life as intense headaches, stomach problems, or muscle tension, as well as anxiety, a messed-up concentration, or even depression.
Again, this could be a matter of lack of balance in other areas of your life. Still, it could also result from you having to deal with negativity, unrealistic demands, and passive-aggressive communication.
3. Did you used to love your job, but don’t enjoy it anymore?
It’s not uncommon for anyone to occasionally have days or weeks full of struggles that make them wonder if the work they are doing is worth it. But if you have stopped enjoying your job, even when it is something you genuinely feel passionate about, then maybe it has more to do with who you are working with or the environment surrounding your daily activities.
Maybe you are suffering from micromanagement practices, you feel undermined or like you are refrained from growing or learning. Or perhaps you are suffering from burnout because of irrational expectations being set upon your performance. If that’s the case, then get your priorities straight and don’t let a toxic work environment turn your passion into something you dread.
4. Have problems at home increased?
A toxic work environment is awful, and the worst part is that it can find its way into your personal life. Especially now that work has taken a physical space at home with remote jobs. Stress caused by work-related negativity and frustration can start getting in the way between you and your family or friends.
Work overload and bad relationships with your boss or coworkers can make you irritable, and if the conversation with your family keeps revolving around your work problems, your quality time with your significant others will eventually wear out.
Alright, it might not be up to you to right the wrongs of your company or team’s bad work culture, but it is up to you if you remain in a stressful environment. You can start by talking and addressing any issues you have identified either with your manager or the HR department. Get some insight into what could be done to reduce stress and favor a healthy/productive work environment.
If you have already gone through this or realize that there is no intention from your company’s management to change this, remember it is not always healthy to adapt to the place you are working in. So, yes it may be time to start looking for a job elsewhere.
Now, before you do that, take this opportunity to find clarity in what it is you want to find in your next job and what you want to avoid. Look for a job where the company not only offers you the chance to grow your career but where its culture prioritizes stress management in the workplace.
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