If only Horrible Bosses were just a movie, and all our employers were full of sunshine and positive energy. Unfortunately, navigating your career means you’re bound to run into a few Miranda Priestlys and other types of bosses creating anxiety.
While having a tough boss can bring out the best in your work, sometimes work can just be anxiety-provoking, causing a feeling of dread whenever it’s time to Slack your boss. If you’re feeling or having thoughts of dread, distress and fear when completing work for your boss, then you are severely compromising your mental health. Research has shown that a toxic boss can play a significant role in damaging your mental health.
Plus, having anxiety at work can significantly flow over into your personal life, causing havoc there, too. Studies have shown that a toxic boss can be the reason for chronic depression, lowered immune system as well as severe conditions like suffering a stroke, heart attack or other cardiac conditions.
You might not even know that your boss is creating anxiety, but pay attention to how your body reacts. Do you feel stomach aches, chest tightness or other physical symptoms when you think about your boss? These are some of the changes we experience in our body during a feeling of anxiety. Sometimes you might feel agitated, on edge and irritable at work. Anxiety can also manifest when you wake up and feel dread to go to work. It might also be the inability to fall asleep at night because you’re dreading going to work the next day.
While you could try and find another job, it’s not always that easy. There are things you can do to address the issue and find smarter, healthier ways of working. Try these tips from Devan Moonsamy, the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute, a South African Corporate Training Provider & National Learning Institute.
Assess the situation
Take a step back and assess where your boss might be coming from. As much as a toxic boss might cause one to doubt self-worth and self-esteem, it is crucial to remember not to take it personally. Chances are their behaviour towards you is due to their own ongoing inner conflict. Sometimes a boss that micromanages, can be a person who has their own issues with matters of control. Even though their toxicity might affect you, it is not about you as a person.
Speak to your manager
Consider speaking to your manager about the impact of their behaviour on your well-being. This might seem like an impossible approach which might cause alienation or isolation from them, but discussing how you feel might help address the toxicity and improve the working relationship. Chances are the manager might not be fully aware or even if they are aware they might be oblivious to the impact their behaviour is having on your anxiety. If this approach seems daunting, seek advice from other individuals in your circle on how to tackle this.
Do something positive
Try to find something to do that sends positive hormones and chemicals through your body. Take a walk, connect with nature or even exercise to help focus and channel your energy on something more rewarding. This will significantly impact your mood and help manage the triggers to anxiety. If there is a deadline or meeting coming up with your boss, try to work on breathing techniques and even exercises to help manage the levels of anxiety you feel around this.
Consider calling it quits
If nothing seems to be improving your frame of mind and assisting you in managing your anxiety, consider quitting. The reason for this is not that you have accepted defeat. Rather, you have prioritised your mental health and wellness over being in an environment that is negatively impacting you. If it helps, look around for alternative workspaces, or request a transfer. If quitting isn’t an option right now, try to find ways to limit contact with your boss. This could improve your wellness vastly.