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Addressing Toxic Stress

Addressing Toxic Stress

On 8 Mar 2017, in stress, mental health, Workplace

By Tom Gonzalez, PhD, LPC, LCPC

The average individual spends up to a third of their life at work. Finding the right job is one of the most important things a person can do in life. What, then, about the stressors on the job? Deadlines, the achievement of an organization’s goal and “fitting in” the working environment are things we all must deal with in order to succeed on the job. Current research has found that 83% of workers report job stress.

In addition to the stressors and pressures we might anticipate at work, workers sometimes find other types of stressors affecting them, sometimes to the point where those stressors become toxic. Can a worker address and deal with these toxic stressors and still survive in the contemporary working environment?

Toxic stressors in the workplace can include unfairness, bosses or supervisors who cause problems through the inappropriate use of language or even outright harassment, unsafe or threatening working conditions or a worker’s sense of working in an environment that has become physically or emotionally unsafe.

Toxic stressors in a working environment should be addressed. A worker can begin to detoxify the working environment by politely confronting gossipers, time wasters and game players. If confronting places you in a position of vulnerability, then don’t confront directly. Instead report the problem directly to your supervisor or to HR. If a supervisor is the threat, then seek relief at the next highest level. Go even higher if necessary. Plan to support your complaint(s) with facts – good records and documentation about what was said by whom and when it was said or done.

Don’t suffer toxic stressors in silence. Report them and follow through. The reward can be a pleasant working environment in which you will find yourself to be productive and fulfilled by the work you do.

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