When you feel anxious about a new job, you might think that what you’re feeling is unusual and weird. Allow me to debunk that myth—officially! You might feel alone because you’re the newcomer, but remember that we are all new employees at some point. We are all human beings, and all have felt this way—you are not alone! To prove it, here’s a story: one day at my job, my boss told me that she felt nervous on her first day in a part time-nursing position. Even though she had worked as a full-time nurse for years, she felt nervous because she felt unsure of herself in the new work environment. Even a business leader with decades of experience can feel nervous about starting a new job, so there’s nothing to feel ashamed about. It is normal for people to feel anxious on their first day, just like it is normal to get butterflies before an interview.
People don’t talk about new job anxiety much because it can last for a whole day, a week, or even longer. But that makes it even more important to know how to deal with negative thinking and begin to feel good about your new role (as you should!). Many jobs today ask you to multitask, meet strict deadlines, and work with others to reach a common goal. These situations can cause feelings of nervousness or anxiety in anyone.
A study from the Harvard Medical School shows that the human brain switches to stress mode when it struggles to predict what will happen. This is a survival mechanism that alerts us to pay attention to possible threats. For this reason, a little nervousness at the beginning of a new job is normal, and might even be helpful! Time Magazine covers this in an article, arguing that moderate amounts of short-term stress will keep you alert and energized.
The stress of uncertainty causes you to pay extra attention to new things going on around you. The more attentive you are to your surroundings, the faster you will pick up on how things are done. This helps us solve problems and build up self-confidence when we get a new job. On the flip side, too much anxiety can make you miserable and interfere with your daily functions.
Now that we’ve established that anxiety about starting a new job is natural, we can accept and embrace it. Although there is a strong stigma against talking about mental health, checking in with your emotional well-being and offering yourself respect and acceptance is one of the best things you can do. Understanding anxiety and how to manage it can help you reach your goals at your new workplace. It also means taking care of your own mental health. So, how can we deal with these stressful feelings that come from starting at a new company?
To start dealing with what you’re feeling, it can help to examine the sources of your anxiety. If you’re not sure, the first step is to learn the difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder. I highly recommend reading this article by the American Psychological Association (APA) to learn more.
The APA says that feelings of anxiety are common in stressful situations, like speaking in front of a crowd. They can cause irritability, fatigue, digestive problems, and difficulty sleeping. Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions that involve persistent and excessive worrying. More on the subject of anxiety disorders later.
A big part of getting over new job anxiety is dealing with the specific stress factors that come with joining a company. As human beings, our brains want to know what will happen next so we can prepare a course of action. New jobs take us out of our comfort zones because they confront us with unpredictable things.
You might be unsure how your boss and colleagues will respond to different situations. Or you still need to learn how to navigate the company’s software, forms, and systems. To cure the bellyaches of entering a new job, it should be your goal to reach a full understanding of your role.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking your new teammates questions will show them that you care, and getting the knowledge you need will totally boost your morale! A good way to avoid major anxiety is to ask about the organization and your specific role. Do research on the company’s culture to get a sense of what to expect going forward.
Find the source of your anxiety by taking a moment to reflect on which details of the job are rattling you the most. Then you can work on reducing your anxiety by addressing its sources one by one. If you’re worried sick about an unfamiliar computer program, put learning it at the top of your to-do list. If you find it uncomfortable to start a conversation with new people, prepare yourself mentally in advance. Remind yourself that the situation is not as high stakes as it feels, and people aren’t judging you as much as you might think. That way you can take care of the biggest source of your anxiety as soon as possible.
When the brain struggles to figure out what will happen, it activates stress. The last stage we discussed, figuring out what makes you anxious at work, allows you to plan ahead. Just like taking a big exam in school, being well-prepared for professional obstacles is the best way to overcome test anxiety and obtain the best results!
When we worry, we usually imagine the worst possible outcome. Often, anxiety can make us believe that there is something wrong with us. This self-consciousness can lead us to procrastinate and avoid tasks. However, avoiding situations makes it more difficult to deal with them.
By planning and preparing ahead, you can replace your worry with self confidence.For example, if you’re worried about what will happen tomorrow, prepare for what you already know will happen. If the pressure of a deadline is causing you stress, you might want to start working on your project early.
Managing your time can also involve making the most of it. Preparing ahead to deal with anxiety can also help you find solutions that you might not have thought of. If you’re nervous about managing an inventory, you can categorize your inventory by groups in a way that works well for you ahead of time.
Getting organized will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and improve your self esteem. Nothing gets rid of those pesky negative thoughts like setting yourself up for success! Plus, if you have difficulty concentrating, your setup will help you focus better.
Lastly, you should try to keep track of your time by making your work schedule as predictable as possible. This means learning about your day-to-day tasks and schedule so you can plan ahead and know what to expect. Setting up reminders and calendars in places where you can see them is an exceptionally helpful way to become confident and familiar with your daily tasks.
Getting rid of uncertainty in your workday keeps you from having to worry about getting caught off guard. You don’t have to worry about a sudden curveball getting thrown your way if you are already sure what you will be dealing with.
If you feel anxious about adjusting to the new location, rehearsing your morning commute can make the transition easier.
Getting used to your morning commute can make your first days on the job feel less, well, new! If you practice your morning commute, you won’t have to worry about arriving late to work on your first week because you will already have learned the route and the time it takes to get there.
To do this, get everything ready the night before. Try to get enough sleep, and when you wake up, work out a morning routine. After that, rehearse your new route. Be sure to give yourself enough time to arrive without having to drive like Lightning McQueen (A speeding ticket will only add to your anxiety). While doing this, practice keeping a positive attitude so that you can set yourself up for low-stress levels during these waking hours.
An effective morning routine gets you ready to start the day. Are you the type of person who likes to take their precious time in the morning to wake up with a warm cup of coffee? If so, good for you! It’s perfectly reasonable to give yourself time to start your morning right. If you have morning tasks such as taking a pet out or preparing kids for school, build your morning routine around those tasks to achieve a work-life balance.
Furthermore, think about what you can add to your morning routine to set yourself up for a positive experience at your new job. A healthy breakfast can get you energized for the day ahead. Or you can include a five-minute walk around the block to start your day with fresh air.
The knowledge you gain about how to manage your time in the morning can ease feelings of anxiety about this sudden change to your routine. Practicing your morning commute gives you time to adjust to the idea of starting a job with a new company. Make sure to stay relaxed during your drive to work and focus on getting better adjusted to your job. That way, the change won’t feel so sudden when you start, and you’ll have time to get excited! Eat lunch and plan your day according to your new hours to prepare you for a new work-life balance.
If you are working remotely, you can still get ready for the job the same way by setting up a workspace and practicing a regular workday routine. Easing yourself into a consistent work schedule will reassure you that you’ve got this—even in your comfy pajama pants!
When we decide to take on new roles or responsibilities, we often downplay our past achievements or think that other people have an unrealistically high opinion of us. In fact, the feeling is so common that it has a name: “imposter syndrome.”
New job anxiety can make you feel doubtful and insecure, and with these feelings in mind, you may even feel undeserving of your new position. But it is important to remember why they hired you in the first place: you earned it!
Anyone who has a job offer in hand has most likely worked hard to get there, from developing their skills to networking and interviewing. Get the upper hand over your feelings of self doubt by thinking about your achievements and strengths. Remember that they wouldn’t have hired you if you were not you in the first place — you’ve already shown that you’ve got the stuff!
Additionally, remember to celebrate your success so far. Your interviewers were so impressed with you that they offered you a job at their company. That demonstrates their trust in you and demonstrates how well you fit the company.
Remind yourself: once you’ve been interviewed and offered a job, you’ve already made relationships! Feel confident that you are not starting your new job as an outsider because you have allies who believe in you and want you to succeed.
If you have an anxiety disorder, you might also wish to let your employer know. It is totally up to you whether you tell your employer about your mental health. You may do this to request accommodations or just to let people know about your situation. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for workers who disclose physical and mental health issues such as anxiety disorders.
After you have disclosed your condition to the appropriate person, talk to them about what accommodations or adjustments would help your mental health. Some things you might request include adjustments to your work area, alterations in tasks to help reduce chronic stress, or changes in work hours. Don’t feel embarrassed — Generalized Anxiety Disorder alone affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population.
If you feel anxiety about any aspect of settling in, you should consider bringing your boss up to speed so that they can help you find the best solution. It is not only your responsibility to adapt to the company; your new employers and coworkers are there to make it comfortable for you too. Often, the things that worry us the most aren’t best handled by you alone, but rather by working with others.
Communicating your concerns to your boss can be like lifting a weight off your shoulders. You can also build trust and open communication by tackling your concerns with your new boss. Two heads are better than one, and working together to address your anxiety may be exactly what you need to set yourself up for success!
Starting a new role can feel like climbing a ladder for the first time. Looking up at the top of the tall ladder, you may think to yourself, “I can’t get up there.” But once you are able to muster the courage to put your foot on the ladder and step off the ground, you have taken the most important step.
After that, it’s just a matter of climbing the next rung until you reach the top. You’ll notice that as you take it step by step, getting to the top will seem possible. Thus, you accomplish a scary journey little by little. When you manage your expectations, the journey becomes less terrifying.
It’s perfectly reasonable to doubt yourself at first because you don’t yet know how to do everything off the bat. But it’s not realistic to think that you’ll be as productive and confident on your start date as you were when you were last working at your old job. Taking some time as a newcomer to get used to the ins and outs of your new workplace is expected. Instead of worrying about things you don’t know, try channeling that feeling into excitement about learning new things.
You should also be aware that you are not expected to be an expert at everything right away. Instead, take your time to figure out how to apply your skills and expertise to this new place. Don’t set too high expectations for yourself from the jump. Keep in mind that every co worker was once in your place as the new employee, and it took them all time to adjust to being new hires as well.
Hobbies can help us fight work related stress because they provide a sense of freedom and diversity in our lives. New job anxiety can cause a negative feedback loop in which we judge ourselves for feeling anxious. Having a regular hobby can help you break out of that loop by reminding you that you have a personal life outside of work that you should be proud of. Once you start feeling good about yourself, you can carry that feeling into your new job.
Finally, when starting a new job, you may not feel as productive as normal because you’re still learning the ropes. Having a hobby boosts your confidence because it gives you agency in your day-to-day life and makes you feel productive.
If you don’t have a super special hobby, no sweat. It doesn’t even have to be anything too serious. If you like learning languages but aren’t ready to learn German yet, you could teach yourself to speak Wookie. I’m telling you, it’s worth it!
Choosing what is best for you and your life is the key. What do you lack? When in doubt, try getting some daily exercise. Sleep and exercise are essential to mental well being and have been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms.
When we are anxious because of a stressful situation, it can be difficult to overcome the anxiety because we simply can’t take our minds off of it. Self-care weakens the grip that workplace anxiety has on you, which may be just what you need to shake it off.
Practicing self-care means taking care of your physical and mental health. Your new job anxiety might be telling you to put self-care at the bottom of your list of priorities. Au contraire, anxiety!
Taking an active role in protecting your own well-being and happiness is especially important during periods of stress. Remembering to take care of your mental health will allow you to turn your anxious thoughts into excitement.
After all, the reason why you’re there is to find purpose in your new job – you deserve to be happy!
The first step to getting over anxiety about a new job is to realize that it is normal. After that, follow the seven tips above to take control of your anxiety instead of it taking control of you.
In the meantime, don’t forget to celebrate your new position— you deserve to love your new job as much as you deserve the job itself! Feel free to check out our blog page for more tips on how to thrive in the workplace.
Have a Super Day!
I love making a positive impact in people's lives through writing. Nothing feels better than having the words I've written deeply connect with someone's experiences. I'm beyond thrilled to be at Super Purposes, where I can give practical advice while inspiring others!