12 Tips for Dealing With New Job Anxiety

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If you've just started a new job, whether it's for the first time or the tenth time, you're probably feeling a little (or a lot of!) stress. There are many new tasks to learn and your boss's or co-workers' expectations may be high.

New jobs present many changes and challenges, and it's natural to feel anxiety over this. There are several things you can do to both relieve anxiety and combat its effects.

On May 19, 2022, Verywell Mind hosted a virtual Mental Health in the Workplace webinar, hosted by Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW. If you missed it, check out this recap to learn ways to foster supportive work environments and helpful strategies to improve your well-being on the job.

Here are some effective things you can do to deal with stress at a new job or in any other situation that requires change and adjustment.

Find the Source of Your Anxiety

In order to minimize anxiety about your new job, it can be helpful to start by trying to understand exactly what's causing it. Are you worried about job performance? Concerned about fitting in with new co-workers?

Strategies that can help you gain more insight into why you are stressed include journaling or talking it over with a friend. Talking to a therapist can also be a way to gain greater clarity and understanding.

Be Prepared the Night Before

You can help minimize first-day jitters by making sure you are well-prepared the night before work. Pick out what you plan to wear and lay out your outfit to help streamline your morning routine. 

Make sure that there is gas in your car, have directions for how to get to the job, and have your morning coffee and lunch ready to go. Also, try to get to work a little early the first day so you have more time to get settled and comfortable before the day begins.

Practice Your Morning Commute

If you've moved for a job or are living in a city where you will need to take public transportation, practicing your morning commute can help minimize any last-second hiccups. Prior to your first day, head to work at the same time you expect to on your first day. This way you can get familiar with your route and traffic patterns during that time of day. 

Get Regular Exercise

Having a regular exercise routine can be a great way to ease new job anxiety. In addition to relieving feelings of anxiety, research has also found that exercise can play a protective role in preventing future anxiety.

Look for an activity that you enjoy and try to devote some time several days each week to it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that adults should get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity along with two days per week of muscle-strengthening exercise.

Find Support

Get support from co-workers, friends, family, or even an online support group. Talking about what's stressing you out and finding resources should help a lot.

In situations where your stress and anxiety are interfering with your ability to function normally or are causing a great deal of distress, consider talking to a mental health professional. They can work with you to practice stress relievers, develop new coping strategies, and offer treatments that may help lower your anxiety, including psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help

You may feel like it shows weakness to ask your co-worker or boss questions, but asking for help lets them know you're working hard to understand how things flow rather than trying to do something you aren't sure of on your own (and potentially messing it up).

An added benefit of asking questions is that you can start building a rapport with your boss and/or co-workers.

Connect With a Co-Worker

In addition to asking others for help as you get acclimated to your new job, you may find it helpful to form a connection with one of your colleagues. Creating a relationship with one co-worker can help you better understand the company culture, and provide you with insights that can help you settle into your new position.

Seek out someone you might have clicked with early on who seems warm and friendly, such as someone who helped with your initial onboarding. In addition to chatting in spare moments at the office, you might suggest meeting somewhere for coffee or for lunch.

Decorate Your Workspace

One way to help ease feelings of stress and anxiety is to make yourself at home in your workplace. Decorate your desk or work area with objects that bring you joy and comfort. Objects that help you relax, whether it's a photo of your family or a small houseplant, can put you in a calmer state of mind.

Research suggests that having houseplants in your workspace can help reduce both physiological and psychological stress.

Use Quick Stress Relievers

It is also important to have some quick stress relievers that you can use when you're feeling overwhelmed. Some solutions you might try include:

  • Breathing exercises: These can slow or reverse the fight-or-flight response you experience when stressed, which saves the wear and tear on your health that chronic stress can cause.
  • Taking a walk: This can also help calm you down and exposure to outdoor spaces can be beneficial for mental well-being.
  • Use distraction: Keep a stress ball or a fidget spinner at your desk to channel any extra energy and nervousness you might have.

Have a Regular Hobby That Helps Relieve Stress

Try to maintain some time in your life to do some stress-relieving activities, so that you feel less stress overall.

Ideas include regular exercise, yoga, and engaging in a hobby or another activity that you enjoy, such as drawing, painting, writing, woodcarving, playing an instrument, talking to a friend, listening to music, meditation, gardening, bowling, or fishing.

Take Care of Yourself

If you're able to eat right, get enough sleep, and take daily vitamins, you'll be less worn down physically so you'll be less reactive to stress, and you'll be in better overall health too.

Taking care of yourself also boosts your cognitive abilities so you can concentrate and focus better at work.

Focus on taking steps that will help you ensure that you have the things that you need to thrive. Set small goals for yourself each week (such as walking a certain number of steps each day or drinking a certain amount of water) so that you can gradually take steps toward feeling better and less anxious.

Have Patience With Yourself

Every job is tougher at the beginning as you figure out what's expected of you and how to best perform your tasks.

Like everything in life that we do repeatedly, it will get easier and before you know it, you'll have found a routine and rhythm and you'll feel confident in your job and your ability to do it. Keep this in mind when you start to feel stressed or overwhelmed.

When to Get Help

If your stress and anxiety are extreme or severe, you might be experiencing symptoms of social anxiety disorder (SAD) or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Talk to a healthcare practitioner or mental health professional for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is imposter syndrome?

    Imposter syndrome involves believing that you are not as intelligent, skilled, or competent as other people believe. People who experience imposter syndrome often feel like a fraud, regardless of how skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced they are. As a result, they often attribute their successes to pure luck or other external causes and engage in perfectionistic behaviors to avoid letting others down.

  • How do I get to know my coworkers while working remotely?

    Some strategies that can help you get to know your remote colleagues better include scheduling one-on-one video or phone chats and interacting online via work tools like Slack or Zoom. Talk to your co-workers about things that would like to do to help them feel more connected as a team.

  • How long does it take to get used to a new job?

    The amount of time it takes to adjust to a new job varies from one individual to the next. Most jobs have a "probationary" period of 30 to 90 days, which allows a worker and employer to determine if the match is a good fit. Some people may find themselves settled in within that time, but for other people, it may take as long as eight months to reach a period of comfort where they feel fully integrated into their new job.

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5 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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