A toxic environment is a place or behavior that deteriorates your happiness, health, or wellbeing. These environments can often be places like home, work, or behavior from an individual, including yourself. If you feel dread or a weight on your shoulders when you are at a specific place or around a particular individual, you may be in a toxic environment.
Working in a toxic environment, particularly long term, has damaging effects on your health both mentally and physically. These kinds of settings are usually one where a company shows a lack of interest in their employees, favors one person over another, gossip about employees and management, and sustained high turnover rates are usually considered toxic workplaces l. However, these kinds of environments can leave some of us feeling stuck. Don’t fret! There are things you can do.
- Find an activity you can do after work.
- Find other employees who feel the same way and build a friendship or at least a work relationship.
- Keep busy; your mind is going to focus on your tasks rather than a toxic environment.
- Keep a document of all incidents that happen to you or that you witness. Doing this will help when it comes to filing a complaint with HR as it serves as evidence.
- Decide if you want to leave. If you feel your workplace isn’t good for you or your mental and physical health, make a plan to exit.
Toxic Home Environment
A toxic environment at home can mean different things, from not keeping your living space clean or caring enough for your self-care. It can also mean there are abusive parents, out-of-control children, or feeling anxiety, stress, or depression when you’re at home. For some families, communication is non-existent and can leave you feeling invisible, unheard, or misunderstood. Sometimes, families don’t realize their home has become toxic, and family members don’t recognize their toxic behaviors. Some things you can do to mend a toxic home include:
- Open-mindedness – as a family, it’s not just about one person. It’s about the entire family unit. Try putting yourelf in the others’ shoes and vice versa. Listen to one another and take in what’s said.
- Respecting space and boundaries – from time to time, we all need our own space. And sometimes others including our family members, can crowd that space. Be vocal about your needs!
- Patience – when we grow impatient, we tend to become irrational or impulsive. Our choices don’t necessarily reflect what we want when we are angry or upset. When we are patient, we can listen, react and gain perspective.
Toxic relationships can be identified by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not uncommon, physically and mentally damaging. In unhealthy relationships, some like to blame one partner. However, relationships take two. What is done and said on behalf of either partner matters in these cases. Toxic relationships can include insecurities, control or dominance, self-absorption, and other unhealthy behaviors. With COVID, these types of relationships have taken the brunt of it and have escalated to higher domestic violence cases. Are you asking yourself, “what do I do?” The answer and path are not easy, and we cannot change our significant others or their behaviors. However, you can work on your behavior; this may help when it comes to your significant other wanting to work on themselves and if your partner is open to change. Start with these steps:
- Together identify what toxic behaviors you both have, letting your partner know these behaviors are no longer acceptable.
- Allow one another to express their feelings
- Suggest alternate behavior
If toxic behavior like this continues, consider separation for a set amount of time. If your partner falls short, repeat this process or decide if you want to walk away from that relationship.
Toxic environments can be all around us. Sometimes we recognize them, we enable the toxicity, and in turn contribute to that situation. It’s up to you to change your surroundings and behaviors. We must find an exit or middle ground in all toxic circumstances as it will become harmful to our health mentally and physically. Don’t forget you are not alone! At Mountain Vista Psychology, we are always available to help you get through what you’re going through.
Dr. Steffanie Stecker a licensed psychologist and the owner and clinical director of Mountain Vista Psychology, PLLC.
In addition, she is a board certified neurotherapist (BCN E5669) and board certified in QEEG (QEEG-D). Less than 100 people world wide are board certified in QEEG, which indicates competency in reading QEEGs and choosing neurofeedback protocols. Dr. Stecker is passionate about brain based effective therapy and creating a safe relationship for her clients to create change. She loves what she gets to do each day!