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Stop feeling so anxious about your new job with these 12 tips

May 6, 2022 - 18 min read

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What’s new job anxiety?

Is it normal to have anxiety when starting a new job?

4 symptoms of new job anxiety

How to overcome job anxiety

5 extra tips to boost your confidence at work

New job anxiety FAQs

Moving beyond new job anxiety

Congratulations — you've just landed your dream job. 

That’s good news. You're proud of yourself. And you should be. 

It’s also bad news. You’ve landed your dream job — now what? 

Your first day is approaching, and anxiety is creeping in. You’re thinking about how important it is to make a good first impression on your new colleagues. You're already rehearsing your introduction. You want to establish competence and authority and set good boundaries

You also want to make sure your new boss likes you

Thinking about all this makes your palms sweat and your heart rate jump.

New job anxiety has set in, and you haven’t even started yet. Some anxiety is inevitable, but that doesn't mean it has to stay. Learning what new job anxiety is and how to overcome it will make for a better, less stressful transition.

 

What's new job anxiety?

People sometimes call job anxiety the jitters, and it happens to anybody and everybody. Anxiety itself occurs when we experience change or new situations, so adjusting to a new job is a prime time for it to strike. 

Many things about starting a job can induce anxiety. You have a new workplace to get used to commuting to, a new office, and new managers. Everything is unfamiliar, and you’re still getting comfortable. This may be a significant career change for you, and you're anxious about experiencing failure.

Or, you could be worried your new workplace will cause burnout and that toxic leadership lurks around the corner. 

Pointing it out and acknowledging your anxieties is a good start to overcoming them. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness among American adults. An estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults have had an anxiety disorder at one point. 

An increasing number of studies about the impacts of depression and anxiety in the workplace mean more positive change and resources available to workers dealing with mental health issues. 

If you already struggle with your mental health or a professional has diagnosed you with an anxiety disorder, starting a new job might feel impossible — but trust us, it’s not.

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Is it normal to have anxiety when starting a new job?

Yes — starting a new job could fill anyone with anxiety. Everything about the role is unfamiliar — and for people with an anxiety disorder, significant workplace changes are amongst the most powerful triggers.

New job anxiety is so normal that it's likely more surprising if you don't experience any stress when starting a new job. 

People wonder how long new job anxiety lasts, and for that answer, it all depends on the individual themselves. For some, it only lasts the first week, during onboarding. For others, the anxiety lasts several weeks, turning into imposter syndrome or causing you to second guess your skills. 

It's natural to feel anxious in any new environment, so why look at new job anxiety differently? You're starting from scratch in a new role with unfamiliar people.

4 symptoms of new job anxiety

Anxiety makes itself known in both physical and mental ways. Some people experience sweaty palms, while others get headaches. Here are four symptoms of work anxiety that you may feel when starting a new job:

  1. Physical and mental fatigue
  2. Increased heart rate
  3. Heightened imposter syndrome 
  4. Increased insecurities

Just because some anxiety is expected doesn’t mean you have to suffer or continue to feel overwhelmed by work in your personal time. If your anxiety begins to interrupt your ability to perform at work, seek help from a mental health professional specializing in workplace anxiety.

You’ll gain the support and guidance you need to understand and overcome anxiety symptoms.

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How to overcome job anxiety

You want to get over new job anxiety to enjoy your new role and get into your work. Remember how much effort you put into landing this new position? Don’t let that go to waste by sinking into self-criticism or negative self-talk. You got the job. You deserve to be here. And unchecked anxiety can lead to burnout or self-sabotage.

Check out these 12 coping strategies to help you deal with new job anxiety:

  1. Avoid all-or-nothing thinking and ask for feedback to learn as you onboard into your role
  2. Practice deep breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness 
  3. Check-in with loved ones to take your mind off work
  4. Take notes during onboarding and training
  5. Stop comparing yourself to more experienced employees, and don’t be afraid to ask them questions
  6. Repeat positive affirmations like reminding yourself your employer hired you for a reason
  7. Watch and learn from coworkers to see how they tackle problems

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  8. Identify what’s making you anxious. Write it down and look for patterns 

  9. Practice emotional regulation. Feel your emotions without letting them consume you

  10. Remember: you aren't the only one who's ever felt new job anxiety. You’re not alone.

  11. Do relaxing activities outside working hours, like journaling, yoga, or hot baths to wind down your body and mind

  12. Personalize your workspace to feel more comfortable

5 extra tips to boost your confidence at work

Waiting for new job anxiety to pass won't do you much good, and if we don't try our best to cope with our anxiety, it could worsen. Understand that you can face your anxiety yourself rather than wait for things to improve.

Read these four tips to give your confidence a boost:

1. Make an effort to connect with people

Seeing a friendly face around your new office helps ease our nerves and makes us feel more relaxed. Knowing that we have new co-workers around us to ask questions, eat lunch with, and chat with makes a huge difference.

Even if you make friends slowly, connecting with your new colleagues will ease feelings of anxiety. It will also strengthen collaboration and teamwork skills, which makes work easier.

2. Start with a good morning routine

It's all in the preparation. Before heading to work, enjoy a relaxing morning. Eat a good breakfast, listen to your favorite music, or play with your pets. Let your mornings feel calming rather than rushed so you don't walk into work feeling overwhelmed.

Practice the commute before your first day so you know where to go, and time how long your morning routine takes so you're more organized and ready to start your day on the right foot.

Journaling about your anxiety records your experiences to find trigger patterns. Narrowing down what makes you feel stressed at work is the first step to improving your mental health and relieving anxiety. 

While you don’t have to journal every day, developing a morning practice that encourages you to be mindful of your anxiety can help you overcome it. Try making a habit of jotting a couple of notes down whenever you feel anxious.

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3. Unwind after work

New hires feel job stress particularly hard — there’s tremendous pressure to perform. That might make it difficult to disconnect from work. But making time for yourself will increase your productivity and keep you more engaged. Find up to two hours of free time daily to reduce stress and improve general wellness. 

Taking time for yourself might feel like a foreign concept if you typically overwork and oversocialize.

Start by listening to a podcast or music on your commute home or hitting the gym before evening plans. At home, play a game with friends or loved ones, work on a DIY art project, or spend extra time trying out a new recipe to decompress. 

4. Celebrate your achievements

We all adjust and learn at different paces. Your learning curve is unique, and it’s OK if you take a little longer than expected to adjust. Entering a new work environment is no simple feat. After all, you must adapt to a new company culture, meet coworkers and managers, and adjust to different management styles. Go easy on yourself and acknowledge every milestone. 

Did you complete your first day at work? That calls for celebration. Each day you get through or each time you've had a job well-done, make sure that you reward yourself for it. 

Celebrating our achievements can be done by practicing self-care, like enjoying ice cream or doing mindful meditation. The more we recognize our successes, the more our confidence builds. We see that we're capable of creating change, which squashes feelings of self-doubt

5. Adopt a positive attitude and growth mindset

You did land this new job, right? They chose you to fill this role. It's an opportunity to grow and expand your skill sets. New situations are often uncomfortable, but they’re also exciting.

Cultivating a positive mental attitude while you navigate these new experiences will help you reap the benefits, now and in the future.

Making mistakes fuels growth and learning — and everyone makes them from time to time.

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New job anxiety FAQs

How long does new work anxiety last?

Depending on the person and position, it could take up to 18 months to fully adjust and reach peak productivity. The time frame depends on several factors, including the company’s onboarding process and support initiatives, growing relationships with coworkers and managers, and adjustments to workflow and procedures. 

How do I know if I have imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome describes feeling like you haven’t earned your accomplishments or don’t belong in a position.

If you often think you can’t measure up to your peers or don’t deserve what you’ve earned, you likely have imposter syndrome — especially if having the necessary credentials for a position or receiving positive feedback doesn’t relieve these worries. 

Imposter syndrome is incredibly common: 82% of Americans have experienced this anxiety at some point. It’s typical amongst high-performing individuals and minorities and can increase stress, decrease risk-taking, and lead to burnout.

How do I establish deeper relationships with my teammates?

Building workplace friendships is a proven way to stay engaged and productive. Start with the basics: learn peoples’ names and engage in small talk. Take advantage of team-building opportunities, like attending company activities or using shared workspaces.

Without getting too personal, ask your coworkers questions about themselves, like what their favorite hobbies are, where they’re from, and if they’ve got any upcoming vacations.

Listen actively to show you’re engaged and care to learn about them outside of work. And everyone loves a cheerleader — celebrate your coworkers’ wins and be grateful for support from managers to strengthen professional connections.

Moving beyond new job anxiety

We can’t emphasize enough that feelings of anxiety when you start a new job are normal. It doesn’t mean you’ve made a horrible mistake. Don’t hit send on that email begging for your old job back! 

Even the most successful CEOs experience new job anxiety. But that doesn't mean you should roll over and succumb to thoughts that serve a no good purpose.

In the moment, it feels like you don't belong (because you don’t yet — belonging takes time). But you have to make an effort to counter those negative thoughts with positive ones.

When we try our best to understand our worth and all that we have to contribute to our new job, with time, we'll look back and wonder what we were so nervous about in the first place.

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Published May 6, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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