Congratulations on landing the new job! I am sure you are experiencing a variety of emotions that range from excited to anxious. It is 100% expected that you will feel some level of anxiety in a new job setting as humans are biologically “hard-wired” to experience feelings of anxiety in new situations. Do you remember feeling nervous on the first day of school? Or the first time you had to give an oral presentation? What about the first time you introduced yourself to a stranger? These feelings are completely normal and are actually helpful despite making you feel uncomfortable. The new-job jitters signal to your brain that this new endeavor is valuable and worth your attention and focus. This anxiety also fuels your motivation to succeed in the workplace and may inspire you to stay focused on accomplishing your goals. To be able to channel your new job anxiety into a positive and increase your likelihood of conquering anticipatory anxiety or workplace stress, follow the 5 tips below!
1) Engage in self-care
Get to know your bodily sensations during heightened periods of anxiety by practicing mindfulness. Analyze and reflect on which techniques work for you when your nerves begin to increase (i.e., breathing slowly in and out, distracting yourself with a brief, fun activity, engaging one of your five senses, reading a list of positive affirmations, standing up to stretch, taking a short walk, etc.). Take care of yourself outside of the office. Make sure you are being mindful of both your physical and emotional health. Exercise regularly and make sure you are getting an appropriate amount of sleep and proper nutrition. Make sure you have a hobby outside of the office and make time for your friends and family. Think positively and set realistic and attainable goals for yourself. If you are someone who is anxious at baseline or you feel as though your anxiety interferes with your work or personal life, consider talking to a mental health professional.
2) Establish a routine
The majority of times anxiety is caused by not feeling in control of yourself or your surroundings. By establishing a routine, you are asserting control over a few aspects of your daily life which concurrently reduces the level of unpredictability. Even if you do not know your actual work responsibilities and duties, you can set a daily routine for yourself (For example, write out a schedule for yourself and include activities such as the time you want to wake up in the morning, when you schedule your gym workouts or exercise, when and where you will have breakfast, when you will take lunch, when you want to check your email, etc.). Sticking to your schedule will not only reduce your nerves, it will also increase your confidence in following through on activities in a timely manner for when you do receive work-related projects with deadlines.
3) Keep a positive mindset
Keeping a positive mindset will increase your self-confidence and aid in allowing you to not let your worry thoughts take over. When you start to notice your thoughts emphasizing your insecurities or turning into self-doubt, remember that you overcame the hardest part of the process - getting the job! Focus on the wins rather than the failures. You can reframe your thoughts related to failures and treat them as learning experiences. The past is in the past. Learn from the highs and lows of your educational and career experiences and treat these as part of your identity which helped you get to where you are today. Be realistic of your goals and celebrate all your accomplishments.
4) Increase your familiarity with the role
It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of your new position and think of the variety of experiences and opportunities that you may have access to at your new company. It is possible that this enthusiasm may lead to anxiety as you lose sight of your role description and job responsibility. Take some time to familiarize yourself with your specific role responsibilities and where your position lies within the hierarchy of the company. Identify colleagues who you can lean on for support while you are transitioning into your new role. Have a direct conversation with your manager or supervisor about his or her expectations of your work performance and the ways in which you will be evaluated. Make sure you communicate your goals as well as demonstrate an openness to learn from your colleagues. It is not expected for you to know everything on your first day or week.
5) Ask for help
When you are feeling anxious, asking for help may seem like climbing Mount Everest. However, it is important to note that asking for help and communicating your thoughts and feelings directly is incredibly healthy and beneficial for your work. Despite what you may think, asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It actually signals to your colleagues that you are working hard to learn the flow of the company and set yourself up for success. Remember, everyone was new at one point in their career. By asking for help, you are in fact, being more efficient and effective as others can most likely guide you through your questions quicker than you can figure them out on your own and can minimize the risk of you making a mistake. As mentioned above, if you feel as though your new job anxiety is negatively impacting your work and your personal life, consider speaking with a mental health professional.
Lauren Latella, PhD, is an associate psychologist at the Child Mind Institute working with children, adolescents, and young adults struggling with a variety of mental health issues including anxiety and depression. For more information about mental health and for additional tools and strategies for regulating your emotions, visit childmind.org.
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