6 Ways To Deal With New-Job Anxiety, According To Experts
New coworkers, a new boss, an unfamiliar office space, a different commute: Considering all these changes, the jitters when starting a brand new job is something that most of us can relate to. Even when you are in need of a career change, and you're looking forward to your future, the anxiety surrounding a new job is completely normal. In fact, as Fast Company reported in 2015, science says people are "hard-wired" to feel anxious in pretty much any new situation. With the added pressure of wanting to make a good first impression with your new supervisor, or to excel at your job duties off the bat, it's no surprise that making the jump to a new career can be an anxiety-provoking endeavor.
Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle, "For a lot of people, [starting a new job] taps into old fears — like your first day of school. There's also what we call anticipatory anxiety, which for some people is almost like excitement," he says, adding that this type of anxiety is typically caused by "unfamiliar surroundings, and uncertainty about what's going to happen, and who's going to be there."
Whether you're stressed about performing well at work, or anticipating the unknown office dynamics, these tricks can help you overcome anxiety at any new job.
1. Get Control Of Your Physical Stress Symptoms
"The first thing I tell people is you have to learn to control your physiology," says Dr. Klapow. Meaning, you should try to be aware of how feelings of fear and stress physically manifest for you, so you can use tools such as breathing techniques to bring your body back to balance — and, therefore your mind.
"Try some slow deep breathing on your way to work, take frequent bathroom breaks as appropriate, and make sure your breathing is slow and steady," he suggests. "If you can control your breathing, you'll feel much better; it's not the most important [step to overcoming anxiety], but it's the first thing you do."
2. Make Your Workspace Your Own
You likely checked out your new workplace while you were interviewing, but if you're anxious leading up to your start date, take extra care to familiarize yourself with it, especially if it's in a different part of town. Test drive your new commute, and on your first day, take a few extra minutes to do a lap around your new floor or desk area. You can also try to personalize your workspace on one of your first days so you feel more confident in your office, and a little more at ease. Dr. Klapow explains that, "There's going to be so many unknowns at a new job, so long as you've got somewhere to go to, it starts giving you familiarity. It is your known in an unknown situation."
3. Find One Person You Feel Comfortable With
Office politics are definitely a thing, but you don't need to learn the whole scoop your first week at work. Instead, Dr. Klapow says to "find one friendly face" that you can hang with until the awkward co-worker meet and greets are over. "It doesn't matter who they are — just someone you feel a ease with. Use that person just as an anchor those first few days when you're feeling anxious," he says.
4. Get Into Your New Routine
As Psychology Today reported, people are naturally drawn to routine, and having one can boost your mental health. Dr. Klapow explains that "you may not know your work duties right off the bat, but you can still establish your routine — when you get to work, when you take your lunch break, when you check your email, and more."
If you need a little extra help creating a healthy routine for yourself, try easy hacks like committing to practicing a good habit for thirty days.
5. Remember That Some Anxiety Is OK
"Remind yourself that some anxiety is not only normal, but helpful," says Dr. Klapow, adding that anxiety "keeps us focused and it keeps us engaged."
As it happens, according to Psych Central, research is starting to suggest some stress can help you perform better at work. Of course, oppositely, too much worry, or anxiety caused by a diagnosed mental health disorder, will impede your performance at work.
If the latter doesn't apply to you, Dr. Klapow says to "tell yourself that some of your anxiety is being driven because you care about what you're doing."
6. Take Care Of Any Underlying Anxiety
Within one to two weeks after beginning your new job — four weeks at the latest — Dr. Klapow says your workplace anxiety should subside. However, if it doesn't, it may be time to consult your doc about the possibility you have an anxiety disorder, and how you can treat it.
"If after a month you still feel anxious or nervous about going to work you might want to check in with a mental health professional," Dr. Klapow explains. "If you're nervous everyday you go to work, there's probably something more going on."
Experiencing worry over a new job is commonplace, but you don't need to let your nerves get the best of you. Enjoy the new job you earned, and don't stress too hard over your workplace.