Working in a toxic environment can cause more than just unhappiness. It can have a significant impact on your physical and mental health that affect your life both inside and outside of the workplace. I have personally experienced this. I saw impacts in relation to my health, wellbeing, and in relationships both at work and personally.
Here are some examples of what I experienced when under the pressure of working in a job that I began to hate.
As many educators do, I had way more work than could be completed during the workday. In order to keep up, I worked from home each evening, on weekends, and even holidays. Not giving myself a break caused headaches, which forced me to take a break. It became a regular thing for me to experience excruciating headaches a few times a week. As soon as I left the position, the headaches subsided, indicating that they were likely tension headaches triggered by the stress brought on working under such conditions.
2. Weight gain
Unfortunately, I was going through all of this as I prepared for my wedding. While I didn’t gain a significant amount of weight, I was so burnt out I wasn’t motivated to work out. Exercise is extremely important for mental health, as well as physical health and not having the time or motivation to stick with my routines, caused many problems.
3. Sore muscles
When you’re feeling very stressed, you may be clenching your muscles without even realizing it. This can lead to other body pain such as back pain or muscle and joint aches. For me, this impacted my joints. I have had knee problems due to overuse in the past (all that jumping on concrete for dance!), but it came back out of nowhere and with vengeance during this time. I went to physical therapy, got x-rays, and saw a number of different doctors, but it was unclear what was causing this pain. However, it suddenly subsided after I left the job. This likely came about due to the stressful work environment where it was truly impossible for me to relax.
4. Mental Fatigue
Just like physical fatigue, working under stressful conditions can make your mind feel overworked. For me, I felt completely drained all of the time. Like I mentioned earlier, I completely gave up on my workout routine (which used to make me happy!) but also began passing on other things I enjoyed, such as spending time with friends or going on hikes with my dog. Additionally, I found it more and more difficult to perform my best, which made things even worse for me in the workplace.
I have always struggled with falling and staying asleep, however, during this time of extreme stress I found it impossible to relax my body or my mind in order to get the proper amount of sleep to feel rested for the day ahead. This lack of sleep intensified all of the other stress-related symptoms, including fatigue and headaches.
6. Weakened immune system
I tend to not get sick very often. Every once in a while I contract a cold or virus, but during my 3 years in this position, and even more often as things got worse towards the end, I found myself sick constantly. When I did decide to take a sick day, I was reprimanded for it, which caused even more stress. This stress also impacted the duration of the illness. I was often feeling under the weather for a few weeks at a time when usually I tend to feel sick for only a few days before recovering.
Are you experiencing any of these symptoms of burn out? While it’s always good to check in with your doctor (I did- and it was so helpful!), it is possible they are symptoms of working in either a toxic work environment or in a job that is just not a good fit.
If you are ready to get out of this cycle and want support from someone who gets it, you can schedule a free consultation to see what coaching is all about!