professional development

Written By: DiveThru Team

Reviewed By: Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW


12 Ways a Toxic Workplace Can Impact Your Mental Health

PUBLISHED Apr 30th, 2021 & UPDATED ON Nov 29th, 2022

Beeeeep. Beeeep. Beeeep. 

The obnoxious screaming of your alarm each and every morning is your least favourite sound in the ENTIRE world! It sends a shiver up your spine, you’re filled with dread, and any motivation you might’ve had before it rang has completely disappeared. By the time you have to head out the door, you’re basically forcing your feet to take you to where you need to go. 

What’s got you so distressed? Well, going to work. No, it’s not a particularly bad day. Actually…every day is a bad day at your workplace. It’s sooooo toxic. There are cliques, there’s gossip, and people in high-up positions abuse their power and talk down to you. You feel trapped, completely helpless and totally unsupported! 

A toxic workplace, or a toxic boss, can impact your mental health in many different ways. It can take you from a person following their passion to basically a soulless zombie. But we promise you’re a lot cuter than an actual zombie! Like, MUCH cuter. 

So, let’s find out how to deal with a toxic work environment and how it can impact your mental wellbeing! Consider this your toxic workplace checklist:

1. Anxiety

Work shouldn’t cause you to feel anxious. Yes, stress is naturally part of most jobs, deadlines exist, and there is the pressure to perform well — that’s all pretty natural! But stress and anxiety shouldn’t be caused BY the people you work with. If you’re worrying about cliques, how you’ll be treated by coworkers, and an emotionally draining environment, it might be time for a job change! 

2. Depression

The dysfunction! The drama! The depression! It all goes hand in hand. Working in a negative work environment, or a toxic work culture, can wear on your mental health so much that you become depressed. The constant negativity doesn’t allow you to create any good feelings to associate with your work and the people around you. 

If you’re spending 40+ hours a week at an office with toxic coworkers, you’re naturally going to be sad AF! You should walk away from your work feeling energized, positive and happy! You shouldn’t feel like you want to cry 24/7.

3. Negative Rumination 

When something negative happens in our day, we tend to hang onto it. It’s hard to let that kind of stuff go! So when you’re trapped in a negative environment all day every day, it’s hard to NOT play the day over and over in your head! This is called negative rumination

Negative rumination ends up reinforcing any bad feelings you have about yourself, your work, your workplace and your colleagues. Even if you have a positive experience at work, the bad ones seem to take over and end up making you forget alllll about that one sliver of good vibes. 

4. Your Inner Critic Comes Out 

A toxic workplace can often make you forget how awesome you are! The negative work environment makes it hard to do your job and do it well! It’s also difficult when there’s not a lot of positive feedback from your managers or bosses about your performance. Understandably, this is an environment where your inner critic would THRIVE! It’s not easy to let go of the negative self-talk when there’s no positive talk to even begin with!

5. Burnout 

Burnout is the feeling of complete mental and physical exhaustion. The thought of even opening your computer feels like an impossible task! A toxic workplace can drain the life out of you! There’s no opportunity to recharge, and there’s nothing to recharge with! It’s like trying to fill an empty cup with air. It just doesn’t work! 

6. You Feel Like You Lack Purpose 

Wanting to make a difference with your work is part of the human experience! We all want to make an impact in some way, big or small, and feel like we matter. But if you’re trapped in a workplace that sucks out any enjoyment you might’ve derived from your job, it can feel like you don’t have that purpose you’re searching for. 

The negativity can become soooo loud that you lose sight of the reasons why you took this position in the first place. It starts to feel so pointless and you begin to lose your drive and sense of direction in your life. We don’t want that for you! We want you to always feel like you know exactly which direction you’re going. North, South, East, West, wherever!  

7. You Become Irritated Easily 

When you’re under stress, it’s normal for you to become more irritable, easily annoyed, or even a bit angry. Your body and mind are trying to process a lot of environmental and emotional factors all at once, and it can be overwhelming. So, if you’re wondering why you have a shorter fuse when you’re on the clock, that might be why! 

8. Your Sleep Is Affected

Did you know that sleep can be impacted by anxiety and stress? Yep! So if you noticed a difference in your sleep pattern after you started working at this toxic workplace, that might be why! You might’ve even been so desperate to get a good night’s sleep that you’ve now tried just about every sleeping product out there. But, a new mattress, melatonin drops, and all the lavender scented products in the world can’t seem to help! That’s because your body is holding onto stress. 

So, when bedtime eventually rolls around, this panic, anxiety and stress you experience during the day (plus the negative rumination) causes you to lose out on some MUCH needed shut-eye. 

9. Sunday Scaries 

Ever since you started feeling the bad vibes at this job, you’ve started living your life by the good vibes of Loverboy. You’re just workin’ for the weekend!

You relish your time away from your job, so when Sunday night rolls around, you are DREADING the next day’s return to work. If you were wearing any boots, you’d be shaking in them. Before you know it, the Sunday Scaries are in FULL FORCE! 

10. You Devalue Yourself and Your Work 

When you’re constantly being undervalued at work by colleagues and managers, it can make you feel like you aren’t good — or smart — enough to do your job. 

You’re stuck feeling so anxious that you lose confidence in yourself and your abilities! It can start to feel like what you do isn’t worth anything, isn’t impactful in any way, and won’t make a difference at all. It makes you feel soooo insignificant and like you can never measure up no matter how hard you try. 

11. Increased Substance Abuse

To cope with the stress and anxiety of your day to day life, you might be compelled to turn to alcohol and other substances to help yourself manage. We get it! Sometimes you feel like you just have to relax and the only way you can do that is with the help of some wine at the end of the day. 

But we want you to be careful if you’re noticing this trend with yourself. It can be easier than we think to become reliant on an external substance to release stress. We want you to incorporate healthy coping mechanisms and stress releases if that’s the case. Maybe that means going kickboxing once or twice a week, or even screaming into your pillow! (Have you ever waited until you’re the only car on the highway and then just SCREAMED? It’s SO cathartic!) Whatever works! Just be careful that you don’t become dependent on a substance to help manage your stress when it feels unmanageable. 

12. Self Sabotage 

Sometimes we absent-mindedly sabotage ourselves out of sheer frustration (or apathy after YEARS of crap). And, sometimes we self sabotage on purpose so that we don’t have to make the difficult decision to quit and can let our employer take the heat for letting us go.

Purposeful or not, self-sabotage can risk the good reputation you may have built with other people or departments. You don’t want all that hard work you’ve put in up until this point to be forgotten because you became the office gossip, trashed colleagues, were indiscriminate with confidential or sensitive info, procrastinated, or became ruthlessly disengaged.


We hope none of these examples sound familiar to you…but if they do, you might be working in a toxic workplace. We hope that this helps you identify what kind of environment you’re working in and direct you along the path to improving your situation. You deserve to THRIVE, not just survive.


Read More: Self-Sabotage: What Is It & How Do We Stop Doing It?, 6 Ways To Take Care of Yourself While Working Night Shifts,