Disclosure: Seasoned and Growing is reader-supported. Please note this post may contain affiliate links. This means I may receive a commission if clicked at no extra cost to you. The funds I make help me create more helpful content for you. I only recommend products and services I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. You can read the full disclaimer here .
Are you looking for ways to heal after leaving a toxic work environment? If so, you’re in the right place!
Have you recently left a toxic work environment? or Maybe it’s your last day at your current job? Either way, congratulations! You just took a major step in your career. Leaving a toxic job can be a pivotal moment in your life. Why? It takes so much courage and strength to make the decision to acknowledge your pain, overcome disappointment, and go on the journey to find better. The best thing you can do for yourself is to focus on healing after leaving a toxic job. It will not only help prepare you for your next opportunity, but it will also allow you to release your past self. Just like a toxic relationship, you’ll find leaving a toxic job an opportunity for growth, renewal, and restoration of your mental and physical health.
The effects of being in any toxic situation can leave deep wounds emotionally and physically. They can negatively impact not only your career, but your confidence, self-esteem, motivation, and overall happiness. Once you leave a toxic job, you must focus on your mental health and healing which will take an intentional and proactive approach. This article will guide you through the next steps of healing after leaving a toxic job. I’ve used these strategies myself and have taught my clients who are toxic workplace survivors as well.
As you are on your journey to healing after leaving a toxic job, remember to give yourself time and grace. This is not an easy journey, but you are more than capable of navigating through this and coming out on the other end. Negative experiences have the power to make us stronger and better in the long run. Once you heal, you will find that your tolerance for inappropriate or disrespectful behavior will be low (woohoo boundaries and knowing your worth!).
Acknowledging your feelings is the most important step. While working in a toxic job and toxic workplace culture, many professionals experience gaslighting and inappropriate levels of invalidation. In fact, if you shared your past experiences with family, friends, or toxic team members, you may have heard a common response such as:
“You’re being sensitive.”
“It didn’t happen like that.”
“I didn’t mean it.”
“You took it wrong.”
“You just got this new role, you need to stay and work it out.”
“The position is a good fit, can you just try to deal with it?”
You may have heard some of these phrases or other similar ones. During your time working at a toxic job, you may have experienced many emotions including anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment, and confusion. I don’t blame you! When people around you are not validating you or your concerns, it can be very upsetting and has the potential to leave you questioning everything.
Healing after leaving a toxic job will require you to acknowledge and validate the emotions. Yes, you went through a traumatic experience. Your feelings are valid and what you went through was real. Allow yourself to grieve the negative and traumatic experience. As you are doing this, celebrate your decision to prioritize your well-being. Acknowledging your feelings will allow you to release them and enter your new job at a new company with a better mindset.
When working at a toxic job, it is common for many professionals to neglect self-care. After all, your focus is on surviving and just getting through each day. Self-care is essential during the healing process. This is your time to focus on re-building your best self, which includes indulging in practices and hobbies that bring you peace and happiness. You’ll also find that you’ll begin to recognize all of the good qualities that you’ve been neglecting.
I highly recommend engaging in activities that help you improve personally and professionally. These activities can include exercising, meditation, journaling, practicing mindfulness, spending time in nature, or pursuing hobbies and passion projects. Make sure to prioritize self-care as a daily practice to rejuvenate your energy and restore your overall well-being. You want to be well-rested and fully restored mentally and physically when entering your next opportunity.
You will need your network during the healing process. It’s important to intentionally surround yourself with positive, encouraging, and motivating people. These people can include family, friends, mentors, a career coach, online communities, etc.
The goal is to surround yourself with people who make you feel good. If you don’t currently have a strong support system, you can create one. Consider joining support groups or online communities of individuals who have also experienced toxic work environments. Sharing your story and listening to others’ experiences can help validate your feelings and provide valuable insights for your healing journey.
Remember, you’re not alone. You are not the first or last person who will face an unhealthy work environment.
In my docuseries, Exposed: Toxic Workplaces across the Globe, professionals shared their experiences, specific situations, lessons learned, and words of wisdom, for fellow survivors. They also share their exit strategy, experiences with their new employer, how they landed new opportunities, and most importantly the signs of a toxic work environment. You won’t want to miss this!
Check out the series here!
In order to not repeat the same mistakes in your career, you need to take time to reflect on your experiences and the lessons learned. Think about the warning signs, red flags, and patterns that you saw or repeated. You’ll also want to think about any behaviors that may have contributed to the toxicity and explore ways to avoid them in the future. This reflection can empower you to grow personally and professionally, allowing you to make better choices in your future roles.
Being in a toxic environment can make you forget who you are at the core. Chances are, you’ve neglected yourself so much that your passions, desires, and strengths, were put on the back burner. Leaving a negative work environment offers an opportunity to rediscover your passions and strengths. Reflect on the activities that bring you joy and satisfaction. Try to pick activities that allow you to use your natural skills that make you shine. Engaging in activities that align with your passions will help rebuild your self-esteem, confidence, and sense of self-worth.
If you worked in a toxic job for years, I’m guessing that many of your boundaries were crossed, often. Why? Toxic jobs and toxic work cultures often blur the boundaries between personal and professional life. As you heal, it is important for you to establish healthy boundaries to protect your well-being (mentally, emotionally, and physically).
As you go into your next job, make sure you clearly define your limits regarding work hours, communication, and the expectations you set for yourself and others. Remember, you teach people how to treat you and it is ok to demand respect and kindness at work. Communicate these boundaries assertively, allowing yourself the space and time needed to recover fully.
It’s ok to ask for help. Again, you need to build a support system that can help you process the trauma head-on. A therapist or counselor experienced in workplace-related trauma, toxic relationships, and narcissistic abuse, can provide valuable guidance, tips, and strategies for overcoming your pain.
Developing a positive mindset is crucial for healing after leaving a toxic job. Your mindset ends up controlling your actions and perspective. Having a positive mindset also directly impacts your well-being and levels of happiness. You can do several things to improve your mindset including practicing gratitude daily. You should also surround yourself with positive influences, listen to inspiring stories, and find uplifting stories to rebuild your motivation to move forward.
As you heal from leaving a toxic job, envision the future you desire. You are worthy of (and deserve) to live the type of life that you want. It is in your best interest to consistently set goals for yourself and create a roadmap to help you reach them. This process can help you regain a sense of purpose and direction in your life. Who knows, it may even be time for a career change! Consider exploring new career opportunities or even pursuing your passion through entrepreneurship. By focusing on the possibilities that lie ahead, you can rebuild your confidence and regain control over your professional journey.
Last, but not least, forgive yourself! Holding on to guilt and resentment for working at a toxic job will slowly eat away at your soul. Avoid blaming yourself for staying in a toxic job, not speaking up for yourself, or losing yourself. The truth is, you were in an abusive relationship, and abusive relationships are hard to leave. Be proud of yourself for recognizing your worth and being brave enough to leave! Now that you know better, I know you won’t ever let it happen again.
Here’s a final reminder for you, you made the right decision. Healing after leaving a toxic job is truly a transformative journey. Keep in mind, this journey will require patience, self-compassion, self-love, and resilience. By acknowledging your emotions, practicing self-care, seeking support, reflecting on the past, rediscovering your passions, setting boundaries, seeking professional help, building a positive mindset, creating a vision for your future, and forgiving yourself, you can heal and reclaim your joy, well-being, and professional fulfillment. Remember, you deserve to thrive and not just survive in the workplace. This healing journey will make a big impact and positive influence on your personal life and in your next position. Never forget that you are worthy of being respected, celebrated, and appreciated at your job.
Keep up the amazing work and best of luck in your new position!
Cheers to your success!