How Negative Workplace Can Result in Both Mental and Physical Health Problems

Effects of Stress in the Workplace

No one should have to deal with a toxic working environment. Unfortunately, it’s a reality to a significant portion of the workforce. With that, some may not have the energy and motivation to go to work each day, while others may just dread the mere thought of work.

Most often than not, the reason for employees’ lack of motivation and dive in productivity can be caused by a hostile work environment. Maybe the workplace doesn’t foster open communication, or the employees are pressured and overworked, and there’s not enough support and resources.

Regardless of the reason, work related stress can demoralize employees. If left unaddressed, it can lead to a high turnover rate and an increase in absenteeism among employees.

We’ll dive deeper into the effects of a toxic work environment and present ways to deal with a negative workplace atmosphere. 

How a Toxic Work Environment Affects Employee’s Health

A negative workplace environment doesn’t just affect the employee’s productivity and performance at work. A toxic work atmosphere can also harm our psychological and physiological health.

In fact, according to a  study conducted by Lund University in Sweden, a toxic work environment has contributed to the increased incidence of depression, substance abuse, and other health issues among workers. 

Let’s look at how the quality of the working atmosphere can affect both your psychological and physiological health below.

Psychological Impacts of a Negative Workplace Environment

Effects of Stress in the Workplace

In most cases, the effects of a negative work environment manifest psychologically. This could be attributed to the fact that a toxic environment can put a lot of stress on the mind. Once a person experiences stress, they could start showing negative emotions, including anger, anxiety, irritability, etc.

One of the worst effects of a toxic work environment on a person is negative rumination. Negative rumination happens when a person repeatedly plays a negative experience in their minds throughout the day. It could be their boss throwing unkind words to them or catching a colleague talking about you behind your back. They could be replaying these scenes over and over and ponder on where they went wrong. This could easily ruin a person’s day and affect their work performance.

If these emotions are not addressed, it could lead to more serious psychological issues. In a worst-case scenario, stress may lead to depression. The person may then experience social withdrawal, increased anxiety, and sometimes paranoia.

Physical Impact of a Negative Workplace Environment

Aside from psychological impacts, a negative workplace environment can also affect a person’s physical well-being. Extreme stress can take a physical toll on the body; thus, most people consider outpatient treatments such as exercise and relaxation techniques to help them cope with workplace stress. For example, if someone experiences extreme stress due to their job and is not able to handle it, they may experience health problems including high blood pressure or heart disease.

One of the first things that a person can experience is fatigue. The mental pressure from work could rob them of a goodnight’s sleep and can even cause insomnia. As a result of the disrupted quality of sleep, they could feel tired all the time. Furthermore, people experiencing extreme fatigue can also experience a decreased libido, social withdrawal and suffer from intense migraines. This feeling of being tired all the time could reflect negatively on their job performance.

People working in a hostile environment are also more prone to experiencing flu and other types of sickness. The body’s immune system could become compromised with fatigue and stress, making you more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections.

5 Tips to Deal with a Negative Work Environment

Effects of Stress in the Workplace

For the many of us who can’t call it quits or are too afraid to leave, the good news is there are ways to cope with a toxic office environment. Check out these five tips:

1. Find ways to relax outside work

Activities like yoga, gardening, knitting, baking, or other activities that can make you feel at ease can help relieve work-induced stress as it allows you to forget about it for a while. Non-work-related activities can take your mind off the main stressors and let you focus on one thing that you love doing. In turn, your mind can rest and decompress.

Moreover, even though you work a 9-to-5 frustrating job, having that one activity that you love can give you something to look forward to at the end of the day. Therefore, you’ll be driven and motivated to get through the day.

2. Don’t take work issues home

Sometimes, one of the leading causes of stress and a negative work environment is the lack of boundaries. Think about how much you complain about work to your roommate or how much you talk about work even when you’re at a family gathering. Sometimes, these can get pretty tiring not only for you but also for those around you.

When you’re stressed with work, leave it at the workplace. Once you’re at home, train your mind to shift into rest mode. Your home should serve as a place to relax and recharge – so let it stay that way.

Obviously, today’s hybrid and remote work environments present a whole new set of challenges but it’s still important to create boundaries between your remote work like and home life.

3. Hang out with positive co-workers

Effects of Stress in the Workplace

Even if the majority of your co-workers are toxic in one way or another, there’s always that one person (or two) who radiates a positive vibe and who thinks the same way as you. If you notice one of your co-workers facing the same issue as you are, talk to them and try to find out how they feel about the situation.

Once you know how they feel and you’re sure that you’re on the same page, you can start working on solutions to handle toxic situations. With a friend or two who feels the same way as you, you can vent and share your frustrations. In a way, it will help a lot in relieving your stress levels at work.  

4. Request reassignment or plan your exit strategy

With the tips above, your current work situation may improve. In that case, it might make sense to stay. However, if things don’t go as planned, even with the number of things you do to deal with workplace incivility, don’t hesitate to do something about it.

One thing you may want to consider is reassignment. If the company has another branch where the atmosphere is much healthier, seek help from your company’s human resource department or ask to be reassigned to another department.

5. Consider Switching Companies

If worse comes to worst and reassignment is not possible, consider switching companies. Create a portfolio and gather samples of your work. Start your search for another job and be sure to have a well written resume. If you’re planning on changing your career, this could be the time to do it. Look for a better company or a job you’re passionate about and one that won’t restrict professional growth.

Bottom Line

Effects of Stress in the Workplace

A toxic workplace can be stressful, and it’s unfortunate that a significant portion of the workforce is experiencing it. While you may not control certain events in the workplace, the good news is you can control how you deal and cope with them.

Whether it’s finding the time to relax or spending quality time with family or friends, these activities will shift your focus from work to activities that you actually enjoy and lower your stress levels. If there is still no improvement despite your efforts, it might be time to look for a job that’s less stressful and more enjoyable.

If you’re a manager or the business owner, you should actively take steps towards boosting your employee’s productivity. Always be on the lookout for signs of a toxic work environment and resolve it as soon as you spot it. Remember, your employees play an important role in keeping your company running. If they’re not productive, unmotivated, and are burnt out, you’ll immediately see its impact on your company’s performance.

Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.

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