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Firstly, I apologise for the Britney reference in the title, but it just fit so well. Secondly, the picture reflects what I think when I think about a non-toxic environment. Right, I will get on with the blog now…

We have all been in a toxic environment, whether it is at home, a situation with a group of ‘friends’ or most commonly from what I hear; a toxic work place. Sometimes we realise it immediately and will escape, like the frog placed in boiling water, but other times we don’t realise it slowly creeping up on us, as the frog placed in cold water remains in the water as it boils. (Apologies for the graphic analogy and animal cruelty, but I think it really highlights how we get stuck in situations and don’t realise it has happened, until it is “too late”).

If an environment is causing any of the following you need to think about why you continue to put yourself in it:

          Sleepless nights. I am not talking about when you lose some sleep because you have an important presentation/meeting/deal etc the following day. I am talking about a loss of sleep for no reason other than just having to be in that environment.

          Dread in getting out of bed in the morning (this is more particularly focused on a toxic workplace). Again, there are some days we just want to stay in bed, even when we are completely happy, but you know the difference I am talking about. It is that feeling of dread, and it is not a once in a year thing.

          Anxiety, anxiety attacks, panic attacks. This is your mind and body telling you, please do not put me in that environment. The way to stop it; listen to your body and get out of the environment.

          Your eating habits change. For some this means a lack of eating, while for others it is over eating, in particular sugary foods.

          You are exhausted. You get home from the environment and you have no energy to do anything. This can result in leaving exercise out of your daily routine, and poor food choices,

          You find yourself constantly justifying it; “at least I have these friends/this job/this relationship” “I have to stay here because…”. If you have these lines playing through your head, you have to ask why are you trying to convince yourself? If you were in a healthy place you would have nothing to convince yourself of.

          You don’t feel appreciated. We don’t expect medals and certificates for everything we do. But if you feel a relationship is one way and you continually recognise that, or you don’t feel your work place appreciates your work let alone acknowledges it, it is not healthy for you. We all need to feel valued.

You can see, even from the small list I have compiled here, that remaining in a toxic environment can ultimately impact your whole life, including your wellness. So, it begs the question, why do we stay in these environments? When I am working with my clients, and from conversations with friends and past colleagues the reasons that often come up are:

          Financial. People ‘need’ to stay in jobs for the money.

o   You will be able to get another role though, and even if it isn’t as much money, what is the cost of your wellness?

          The people. You build good relationships with others in the group, or certain colleagues.

o   Is your unhappiness, and poor wellness worth it for others? The people that matter will remain in your life regardless of whether you are still sitting at the desk next to them, or if you are attending the group meetings or monthly catch ups.

          Fear of change. Better the devil we know and all that right?

o   I challenge you to change your perspective, see this is an opportunity. It is a chance to reflect on what it is you actually want, do things for yourself, and think about who you want to spend your time with.

          Lack of self-worth. People do not feel as though they deserve to feel good, they don’t feel they can achieve anything more, including their happiness.

o   You so are. You are unique, you have transferable skills, you deserve to be happy. You are good enough. You are  worthy.

I worked in a retail store years ago, was not on good money, and wasn’t following a dream of any sort, yet I was happier there than many work places I have been since. I felt valued, I was heard, I had opportunities ahead of me, and I worked with people who wanted to have fun, supported each other and worked for the team not the individual. The point is, it is not all about the status of the role or the salary paid, it is about being internally happy, so that we don’t accept an external environment that harms us in any way.

I have been in this position, and I know it is hard to get out of. Once it starts to drag you down and your eating, energy levels and sleeping suffers your self-worth often takes a hit. This then makes it even harder to remove yourself from the environment. Talk to someone, journal, do things that make you feel good, seek career help or engage with a life coach because here is thing…you are worth it! You are the star of your life, and you are too important to stay in a toxic environment. You are too important to not feel valued…you are worth more than that!

I encourage you to reflect on the environments in your life, are they healthy or harmful?

Mel H x