New Job Anxiety? Here’s How to Cope

4 min read

Career Trends: June 10, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

It’s natural for a new job to bring a mixture of emotions but it is important to remember all of this is valid and common.

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You finally got that job, but now you’re feeling a bit shaky about your first day and what awaits you at work. Having new job jitters is common. If you’re concerned anxiety may affect your performance, a few strategies can help you cope better.

New job anxiety can feel different for everyone. You may wonder how you’ll fit in, what your boss will be like, or whether you’ll be able to handle your workload. All of this is valid and common. Sometimes, the “why” of anxiety may not be clear to you, and that’s alright.

Why does my new job give me anxiety?

It’s natural for a new job to bring a mixture of emotions. The two biggest may be uncertainty around the role and performance anxiety, says Gaby Balsells, a clinical psychologist in Stamford, Connecticut.

The uncertainty may have to do with the unanswered questions around what the environment, your team, and your boss will be like, and how hard the workload will be. She explains. “Performance anxiety has to do with worrying about being ‘good enough’ and being up for the challenge.”

Here are 5 tips to manage new job jitters

These exercises may be useful to manage anxiety before, during, and after your first day at work:

1. Deep breathing techniques

  • Anxiety and overthinking are generally your brain’s way of trying to protect you and prepare for what’s to come. That’s the purpose of the stress response.
  • Deep breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system which is the opposite of fight, flight, or freeze mode.
  • Whenever you feel anxious thoughts coming up, try to switch to deep breathing for a few minutes.
  • “Place one hand on your heart, and your other hand on your belly. Breathe in for four counts and breathe out for six,” Balsells advises. “Making the exhale longer than the inhale activates the relaxation response in your nervous system.”

2. Grounding exercises

  • When you start to notice your thoughts spinning, you may find it helpful to use grounding exercises like the 5-4-3-2-1 method.
  • Using your five senses to decrease anxiety is a method that’s backed up by science. Here’s how it works:
  1. focus on five things you can see right where you are
  2. touch four things you can feel the texture of
  3. pay attention to three things you can hear
  4. find two things you can smell
  5. try one thing you can taste
  • Washing your face with cold water or holding an ice cube on one hand may also help to switch your attention from anxious thoughts.

3. Brain dump

  • Journaling may help you process your feelings, it is free writing about your thoughts and feelings.
  • You can journal about the things you are worried about and decipher whether or not there’s anything within your control.
  • Try to give yourself credit where credit is due, consider journaling about both your worries or fears and your accomplishments.
  • For example, you can write about all the skills and achievements that got you the job. Then, try to identify those things you’re anxious about, and what, if anything, you can do about those things.

4. Positive self-talk

  • Consider asking yourself if your worries and fears come from evidence or if you may be using cognitive distortions that make you see things more negatively than they are.
  • Sometimes, we convince ourselves that we’re supposed to know how to do everything right from the beginning and that there’s no margin for error.
  • It might be helpful to remind yourself that you were hired for a reason and that you aren’t meant to know everything at once.
  • Most employers expect a bit of a learning curve as you get accustomed to how things operate.

5. Advance preparation

  • If getting ready for work in the morning is a source of your work anxiety, try to make an effort to prepare everything you need for your workday the night before.
  • Place your packed bag by the door, organise your outfit, and make your lunch in advance.
  • Taking such small steps can seriously reduce your overall stress and help you feel more confident about your new job.
  • Being proactive will also give you a sense of being in control.

Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

The 3 Fundamentals of Successful Thinking

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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