3 Tips for Stress Management in a Toxic Work Environment


We’ve all been there.  You’re sailing through your day feeling great and then out of nowhere, you are hit with an email, phone call, or conversation that knocks you off balance.  If you’re in a toxic environment, you might even go through the workday with a constant weight on your shoulders.  You could experience high levels of stress or have negative coworkers that drain your energy.  Seventy-nine percent of Americans feel stress sometimes or frequently during the day.*  Work was found to be one of the top two stressors for people overall.*  Increased levels of stress effect your mood and overall physical health, which can prevent you from doing your best at work. 

Stress management is an important skill for every life science professional.  Have you ever observed how successful people handle stress?  What they do differently enables them to be resilient and achieve their goals.  Successful people recognize what’s causing the stress, see how it relates to the big picture, and chose to handle themselves accordingly.  The reality is that you have little ability to change the circumstances and what other people feel.  How you chose to respond makes all the difference with your thoughts, feelings, and the future results you’ll see.  Here are three tips for stress management in a toxic work environment!

Relax before you get there

Take the chaos out of your morning!  You might not see how your morning routine affects the rest of your day, but it leaves a significant impact.  Watching or listening to sensationalized, drama-filled, news stories stays in your subconscious and can create anxiety, fear, and doubt throughout the day.  Instead, try listening to calming music or have complete silence while you get ready for work.  It might seem quiet at first, but this actually helps you have clarity in your thinking.  Constantly being late can also have a negative effect on your mindset at the beginning of the day.  If you have a tendency to be late, create a strict schedule for yourself.  Giving yourself extra time to relax prior to arriving at the workplace, can help you have a more positive outlook.

Create your own sanctuary

How do you feel in your workspace?  If your answer isn’t a pleasant one, then there are a few simple things you can do to decrease your stress levels.  If you have your own office, try shutting the door to limit outside noise and interruptions.  If you don’t have your own office, define your workspace by organizing your desk, decorating with color, and putting out photos or anything that boosts your mood.  Try listening to your favorite music with headphones if you are working on an individual project.  If things seem to be spiraling out of control around you, put headphones on without music.  This can signal to others that you are busy and don’t want to be bothered with chaos that doesn’t involve you.

Stay focused

While you’re at work, many things will come up during the day.  Do you allow distractions to stop you and cause stress? Focusing on what’s important involves channeling your thoughts in a positive direction, being calm, and consciously considering your priorities.  When you’re relaxed, you are in a better position to complete projects and excel at work.  Try limiting your interactions with office gossips or other people who take up a lot of your time (but don’t provide anything of value).  If you can find a positive colleague who also wants to avoid unnecessary drama, talk with them about being your accountability partner (or accountability buddy).  An accountability partner is someone who can help you stay on track and remind you of your commitments when things get tough. 

Stress management is an invaluable skill that will help you in toxic or high-pressure environments.  If you are trying to reach your performance goals, pursuing a promotion, or even planning an exit strategy, there will be obstacles along the way.  Relaxing before you get to work, creating your own positive space, and remaining focused on your projects can help with minimizing outside influences.  Have your responses in stressful situations helped you or hindered you in the past?  What can you try to decrease your stress at work?

Source 1 &2: http://news.gallup.com/poll/224336/eight-americans-afflicted-stress.aspx

Porschia Parker is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. She empowers ambitious professionals and motivated executives to add $10K on average to their salaries.

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