How to Keep Your Sanity in a Stressful and Negative Environment


If you’ve ever watched a college basketball playoff game, you’ve seen players and coaches get fired up. Point fingers in blame. Snap at refs. And even let the occasional expletive fly when things don’t go their way.

Too bad you can’t get away with the same type of behavior when you’re in a stressful environment.

While certain aspects of your job may be tedious or tough, much of your job happiness is linked to your work environment – and the people who surround you.

If a single coworker is the source of your aggravation, we’ve written several extremely popular posts explaining how to handle toxic coworkers, including the “Workplace Bully” and the “Chatty Cathy (or Carl).”

But when your work environment or company culture is to blame, you have a bigger issue to address.

Does that mean you’re helpless? Absolutely not. In fact, you have more control over your situation than you may think. Here are a few productive ideas to help you keep your sanity, even when you work in a negative environment:

Change your mindset. When you’re surrounded by angry or pessimistic people, it’s easy to let that negativity influence your own state of mind. But try not to give in! In this post, we share tips for fighting a negative mindset when you’re feeling stuck at work.

Choose your behaviors carefully. You may not be able to control anyone else’s choices, but you can control the way you respond. When you’re tempted to react and spout off, choose instead to be more intentional. First, identify factors or situations that trigger your upset or frustration. Once you identify those buttons, practice a simple relaxation activity (e.g., deep breathing, brief meditation, positive visualization) to minimize the impact of a negative environment on you.

Make sure you’re not part of the problem. When something is off with your team, don’t fuel the drama. Resist the urge to point fingers. And steer clear of gossip. Do your best to get people cooperating and focus on solutions – not stirring the pot.

Take proactive steps to improve your happiness. If you’re feeling stuck in your job, out of the loop, or overburdened, do something to improve your situation:

  • Schedule time to talk with your boss (or assignment supervisor, if you’re a PrideStaff associate). Instead of using the time to simply air your grievances, however, come to the meeting with helpful suggestions to address the issues you see.
  • Take responsibility for keeping yourself looped in. If you’re feeling left out of the communication loop and missing key information coworkers have, resolve to get more connected. Seek out sources of information; build your internal network; and offer suggestions for improving open communication in your culture.
  • Ask for feedback. If you get the sense that something is off at work, or that your boss or coworkers are frustrated with you, don’t ignore it; address it. Ask for constructive feedback on your performance and professional relationships, and use what you learn to perform and fit in better.

Only vent where it’s safe. In a negative workplace, griping to coworkers may be the norm, but it still reflects negatively on you. If you need to vent, confide in a family member or a friend outside work. And if a work situation becomes intolerable, speak to your supervisor or HR (if you’re in a direct role) or contact your PrideStaff recruiter (if you’re on assignment).

Losing your sanity at work?

Your local PrideStaff office can help you find a great new employment opportunity in a positive, respectful work environment. Search local job opportunities near you.