First of all, Congratulations! Starting a new job is good news. But sometimes it doesn't feel that way, does it?
New job anxiety is real. It is so real that various research papers have been published around it. So, don't worry that you are ungrateful for having these thoughts. What you’re experiencing is normal.
Anxiety about starting a new job can leave you feeling nervous and tense. It can give rise to multiple negative questions in your mind, like:
- What if the job is too stressful?
- Am I the right fit for the job?
- Will the other employees like me?
Changing jobs can take a toll on our mental health, leading to negativity in our brains. These adverse effects can lead to a phenomenon called Imposter Syndrome. Keep reading to find out more.
This article will explore the factors that make us anxious about a new job and discover methods approved by therapists and psychologists for overcoming new job anxiety.
3 Main Factors Contributing to your Feelings of Anxiety
You must first constantly remind yourself that your anxious thoughts or work anxiety are normal. Next, you need to dig up why you feel this way.
Here, we have listed some of the most common reasons you’re scared to start a new job.
1. You’re too comfortable with your current job.
There lies a thin line between being comfortable and being too comfortable at your job. At work, this line frequently becomes blurred. It is one of the most common reasons people aren’t able to change jobs, even if it harms their careers.
Staying at a job with no growth leads you to a dead end. After spending a lot of time at a company, you must evaluate and reevaluate the reasons for retaining yourself.
If you have second thoughts about your job, find more reasons to leave. Dig deep into those reasons and make a pros and cons list. This will help you gain clarity and give you confidence.
2. You’re worried you’re not good enough.
When coping with anxiety related to starting a new work, doubting one's ability is one of the most prevalent negative thoughts. As a matter of fact, this phenomenon has a name in psychology: Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which a person doubts his/her abilities, skills, and qualities and is constantly afraid of being exposed as a fraud. The symptoms are usually self-doubt, restlessness, and nervousness.
You probably checked the job description of the position you applied for. You applied for it because you felt you were qualified for it. In the case where you got selected for the position, your interviewers definitely considered you good enough.
Recruiters would never hire someone “not good enough,” would they?
A new job is an opportunity to learn new skills and gain new knowledge.
3. Concerns about not fitting in.
This is one of the top reasons people experience anxiety about starting a new job. Joining a new workspace can make you nervous, especially if you’re not a social butterfly. Getting introduced to a brand-new culture can make you feel overwhelmed.
You probably had friends in your old office and adjusted yourself to the culture over there. However, just like you tuned yourself to the culture of your previous workspace, you’ll find yourself fitting in your new space with time.
Connect with your prospective colleagues on LinkedIn and get to know them. You’ll feel less nervous conversing with them once you actually join the new office.
Don't let the anxiety-inducing noise in your head take over. You got hired for a reason. Above all, remember that you’re not alone in this. Many of us feel this way, and here are some methods and tips that have helped new employees in the past and should help you too.
A bonus read: Deciding Your Interview Attire: What to Wear?
10 Tips for Dealing with New Job Anxiety
1. Talk it out.
Talking to someone about your feelings can help you relax and calm down. Putting thoughts into words has proven beneficial in reducing anxiety and negativity. Getting someone else’s opinion on how you’re feeling will help you gain a clearer picture of reality.
Ensure that you talk to someone you trust. This person could be a friend, family member, counselor, or mentor. Express your emotions to someone who has been helpful in the past and won’t end up making you feel worse.
2. Have a good morning.
Make a list of things you like doing in the morning that could uplift your mood. Adapt yourself to a customized morning routine that includes things like going for a walk, playing with your dog, meditating, listening to music, or having coffee or tea.
Calculate the amount of time you want to spend doing self-care in the morning and start practicing it a few days before you join the job and continue doing so when you start. Starting the day on a positive note goes a long way in reducing anxiety.
Don’t rush yourself in the morning. Rather, wake up early and take things slow.
3. Go shopping!
We’ve all heard of the term “retail therapy,” and we know it works. While your start date is getting closer, make a list of all the things you want on your work desk. Decorating your desk is a great idea for making yourself feel comfortable at a new job.
Things you could buy for your desk:
- A small potted plant
- A coffee mug
- Pen holder
- A photo frame
Apart from these, you could also have gifts from your former colleagues and family photos on your desk to make you feel at home.
4. Make plans after work.
Plan your first day in a way that is comfortable for you. Apart from setting a morning routine, you could plan to meet your friends after work or go to a movie. Having something to look forward to after work will distract you from the first-day anxiety.
Make plans for something you like doing to divert your anxiety about starting a new job to the excitement for your day after work. Meeting your favorite people or going to your favorite restaurant are some things you could consider.
If you’re in a new city and do not have friends, explore a new restaurant or cuisine.
5. “Fake it till you make it.”
There’s a theory in psychology where patients are made to act “as if you’re not anxious.” This theory could be effectively used at work too. If you pretend for a long time that you’re not anxious, you are likely to forget about your anxious thoughts.
Many individuals with anxiety use this method to trick their brains into believing that they are self-assured enough. Coping strategies like these are widely used, yet they are not widely accepted since they are mostly like “cheat codes” of neuroscience.
“Eventually, the acting will become less and less, and you will feel comfortable in the space enough to be confident and social without feeling like you’re acting ‘as if.’” – Michele Goldman, Psychologist.
6. Make conversations.
Making an effort to talk to people in the office and joining conversations is a great way to reduce anxiety. If you’re a victim of social anxiety, take things slow. Ask your supervisor to introduce you to the team or join them for lunch.
A conversation starter: Ask your co-workers about the tools and technologies used by the company. Learn as much as you can about the company from them.
Introduce yourself to as many people as possible on your first day, get to know what they work on, and smile at everyone. This could help you later on as well when you need to contact them for work-related issues.
7. Focus on your work.
A great way to divert your mind from anxious thoughts is by focusing all your attention on your work. List all the tasks you need to complete for the day on a sticky note and put it on your desk.
You do not necessarily have to know the how and whats of all the tasks. If you have any doubts, convey them to your supervisor or teammates.
A new job is a learning curve; the more you get to know, the more confident you’ll be. Spending the day learning how to do the tasks will engage your mind in productive thoughts, making less room for anxiety.
A new job will come with new challenges. Set small personal and professional goals for yourself to complete during the day.
8. Practice mindfulness.
Therapy counts mindfulness as an effective tool to reduce anxiety, stress, depression, and similar issues. Mindfulness includes various methods like guided meditation, mantra meditation, progressive relaxation, etc.
The new job anxiety you’re facing could be reduced to some extent if you make it a regular habit of practicing mindfulness, even for a small amount of time. This habit can also be continued in regular life to reduce general stress.
According to statistics, mindfulness can reduce anxiety upto 60% of the time.
Here are 13 Mindful Meditation Exercises you could easily practice at work.
9. Normalize your anxiety.
Acknowledge your anxiety, and don’t judge it. It is okay to be anxious when we’re put into a situation that is new to us. A new job can be a lot to handle for some of us, so being anxious about it is quite normal.
Do not stress too much about the fact that you are anxious, as that could end up with more anxiety. Instead, try taking deep breaths and letting your mind feel whatever it wants. Remember that you’re doing everything; this is the best you can do.
Talk to a friend or family member who is a good listener and address your anxiety. A pep talk always works.
Let yourself be your truest self and destigmatize all your stresses. Here’s a quote to motivate you:
“No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.” - Virginia Woolf.
10. Talk to a therapist.
We address the physical symptoms of our body by talking to a physicist or doctor. Similarly, talking to a therapist or counselor addresses anxiety symptoms or any other symptoms related to mental health.
Professional help is always the best option for treating health problems, be they physical or mental. Seeking therapy for our mental health issues should not be viewed as a stigma but rather taken on a more positive note.
Seeking help is the first step toward healing.
Talk to people who have received therapy and how it has helped them. You could also ask people who have undergone a healing process to refer you to their therapist or counselor.
The fact that your anxiety about starting a new job is normal cannot be stressed enough. The feeling of belongingness in a completely new environment will take time. Don’t regret any decisions you have made because you cannot move forward in your career without getting out of your comfort zone.
Once your life sets a routine and a few days pass by after you start the new job, your anxiety will slowly fade away. The best medicine for anxiety is giving yourself enough time to heal and taking things slow. Feeling anxious has its ups and downs like everything else; remember your options and start acting.
Read the aforementioned tips about dealing with your new job anxiety and decide which works best. We all have our own ways of dealing with issues, but we’ll never know if we don’t try.