During college, my journalism professor shared a story of when she was working as a producer at a broadcast station. She explained that she was new to the area and the role. Naturally, her nerves about being the new woman on the team were high, and sadly, her new coworkers didn’t welcome her with open arms. Needless to say, the job had her stressed. So much so that every morning on her way to work, she would vomit. She stayed in the position for a year before deciding to move on. As a college senior preparing to graduate in the midst of a recession, I wanted nothing more than a job in media. Still, I vowed to never find myself in the same toxic environment as my professor. While I’ve never vomitted on the way to work, I’ve been in personal and professional toxic spaces. 

If you’re thinking about toughing it out and ignoring your instincts, here are the potential costs of staying in a toxic environment.

You Never Feel at Ease

People who grew up in dysfunctional homes typically feel like they were walking on egg shells and never feeling safe. The same is true for other toxic environments. Living in constant tension has seriously harmful side effects. According to the American Psychological Association, long term effects of stress on the body can include everything from muscle tension to respiratory issues. The increased cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” can affect virtually every other system in the body.

You Suppress Your Dreams

You’re not living as your highest self in a toxic environment. Instead, you’re existing in survival mode. When you’re simply surviving, you don’t get to experience the best life has to offer. And the stress requires a lot of energy ton navigate. Instead of using your energy to combat toxicity, put it toward building discipline, determination and creativity needed to accomplish your goals.

Your Self Esteem Suffers 

Toxic people specialize in making others feel inadequate. Whether they are an individual or an organization, they find fault with everything you say or do. Constantly recieving negative feedback can have you questioning your intelligence and ability to make decisions for yourself. Your self esteem suffers as a result. Charlie Health, a personalized intensive mental healthcare treatment center, states that the person in a toxic environment may struggle to form healthy relationships with others in the future.

Other Areas of Your Life are Affected

Toxic environments affect people even once they’re removed from it. We all know people who can’t seem to stop complaining about work once they’ve left. The effects of a toxic environment have a ripple effect. They bleed into other areas of your life. When you spend so much time in unhealthy spaces, you beging having negative expectations for various other areas of your life. 

Your Health Suffers 

In addition to the health ailments we mentioned beforehand, Vivek H. Murthy, MD, the U.S. Surgeon General, explained that toxic cultures can lead to serious health conditions like depression, heart disease and cancer in a report from 2022 titled Framework for Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being. You may think you’re making the best of a bad situation, but in the process your mind and body are suffering. If you can’t leave your toxic relationship or environment immediately, start thinking about a plan to get out as soon as you can.