Toxic Work Environments

October 7, 2020


Our workplaces impact our well-being more than we realize. A good work environment fills us with inspiration, energy, respects our boundaries, and gives us a sense of purpose. However, a toxic work environment drains our energy, makes us feel hopeless, invalidates our boundaries, and destroys our self-esteem. This entry will explore what a toxic work environment is and give you five strategies to help you manage its impact.

Ambientes de trabajo toxicos; toxic work environments

What is a toxic work environment?


It is a place in which our being, either who we are as a person or who we are in the workplace, is being invalidated. This can come up as crossing our boundaries by consistently calling us or sending us emails at all times. In this work environment, we are assigned or take on responsibilities that are not ours. It is a place where guilt, shame, and gossip are used to keep us under control. Also, we feel like we can’t move forward or grow in the company. This experience can also impact our physical health by creating muscle aches, difficulty sleeping, gastrointestinal problems, and even skin conditions. It can also affect our emotional health, making us more irritable, creating low self-esteem, feeling high levels of sadness or making us feel hopeless and helpless

Managing the impact of a toxic work environment takes time, here are five tips to get you started.

ambientes de trabajo toxicos; toxic work environments

  1. Seek help. This support can come in different forms. It can come from talking with your partner, friends, or family. It is essential to find people who can listen to you, without them necessarily having gone through what you live in that moment.

To start that conversation, you can tell that you just need to vent, that you don’t need advice or opinions, and just need to talk to someone. This helps to break the loneliness you may be experiencing. 

You can also look for support on online groups, either on Facebook or Instagram. You can find groups where they share advice and support people who are going through a toxic work environment. It is not always possible to change jobs, but it is crucial to find a way to manage it. One important thing to mention is that you probably won’t find groups that are called “groups for people in a toxic work environment.” However, you can find groups that support important skills such as how to apply mindfulness at work. You can also find support groups for setting boundaries, support groups for people starting in the work field, or work management skills. I invite you to look for these groups; you will find people willing to listen to you in this process!


  1. Set your boundaries. As difficult as it may be at first, try not to respond to emails, calls, or requests outside of your working hours. This can generate a lot of anxiety for a while; you may even be thinking, “Alejandra, they are going yell at me; they are going to question my performance”. Setting boundaries is not easy, but people will not change their behavior if we allow them to trample us continuously.


Sometimes, you will have to learn how to respect your own boundaries. An example of this can be that you might have a habit of eating at your desk because you have a heavy workload. In this case, how about trying to take your whole lunch hour? Other ways to honor your boundaries can be to take your medical leave when you are not feeling well. These are all boundaries within your employee or employer’s rights, and it is essential to remind yourself that they exist and that you have the right to use them when necessary.


People tend to celebrate what is right for them and criticize what is not. So, not getting support for the boundaries you have established doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. Instead, it may indicate that you are finally breaking a pattern and getting closer to your goals. 

Ambientes de trabajos toxicos; toxic work environments 


  1. Remember why you started. Sometimes you start at a job position to grow professionally. It could also be that you are saving to fulfill your dreams of studying, buying a house, or going on a trip, and your job is the means to achieve it.

Remembering why you are there can help you to connect with the purpose behind why you are doing what you do.

It is also essential to connect with the why behind our profession that goes beyond finances. I invite you to ask yourself the following questions to reconnect with your purpose: What do I want to change in my community through my work? How am I already making a difference? What values led me to choose this career? Can I remember a time when my profession helped others? How did that experience make me feel? What message can I take away from this? Reconnecting with your “why” can help to bring hope to you as you face your work and deal with the different stimuli you may encounter.


  1. Practice gratitude. Don’t forget to be grateful for what you have. While we are moving to a more satisfying workplace, it is important to establish a practice of gratitude. Gratitude can include yourself, your colleagues, your workplace, your profession, your boundaries, the way you take care of yourself, etc. You can do this at the beginning or end of the day. Give yourself five minutes to reflect and be grateful for all the good that already exists in your life. 


  1. Create a Plan B. This may not be easy; since COVID-19 has impacted the current economic climate, things are not looking very stable. However, this does not mean that we have to stop the creation of our Plan B. Let yourself read books, listen to talks, take workshops (in the way that you can) that will teach you to have that financial and professional independence.

This can be the opportunity to connect with that passion that you still have to push a little further for.

Remember to save money and invest (within your means) to create that dream you want to accomplish. In case you can’t invest money financially, this can be a time to start networking with people who have had a similar career path as yours, and receive guidance on how to continue. 

toxic worn environments; ambientes de trabajo toxicos

Being able to manage a toxic work environment is a process that takes time. Capitalism and the value we give ourselves through our “productivity” are deeply rooted in our culture. However, it is a process that is possible and brings you closer to even more profound and more satisfying professional career and personal well-being. 

If you would like help in this process, I would love to hear from you and be happy to support you, whether through therapy or coaching! My goal is to help you manage a toxic work environment and find more satisfaction in your professional and personal life.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *