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How to Navigate the Stress of Starting a New Job

May 12th, 2020


“Starting a new job is always scary, or at least for me it’s always scary. It’s like the first day of school.” - Sean Maher

A man packing his office into a box as he leaves

New Job: Exciting or Stressful?

Starting a new job can be both an exciting and stressful time. The thought of starting something fresh that creates a new identity within a job can bring forth exhilaration, creativity, and motivation. However, the challenges of being the new person and establishing yourself in a new environment can be both intimidating and stressful. It is important to acknowledge these ups and downs, pros and cons, eases and challenges when presented with a new opportunity. But even more so, it is important to find a balance in order to stay grounded for yourself and your future.

Reasons Why People Start New Jobs

There are all sorts of reasons why people start new jobs. Any of the following could be one of the reasons why you have found yourself in this situation:

  • Quit your old job
  • Termination from your old job
  • Wanted to change careers
  • Wanted or needed to relocate for personal or professional reasons
  • Lost interest in your previous work
  • Graduated from college
  • Obtained a new level of education or degree
  • Desire to make more money

Causes of New Job Stress

Some people are forced to start new jobs --- maybe they lost their job or needed to relocate for family reasons. This category of people may already be experiencing feelings and emotions of personal anxiety due to insecurities, loss, or family issues. Add to that, the anxiety of starting a new job.

On the other hand, there is a category of people who are eager and excited for the start of something new. However, even for these people who are thrilled about the idea of new opportunities, there is still reason to be anxious and stressed out by a new job.

Below is a list of reasons why starting a new job is stressful, regardless of your perspective and attitude...

  • New people
A man looking upset while coworkers whisper behind him
  • Leaving old coworkers and familiar faces, who may have become your friends, can cause a person to feel both sad and lonely
  • Meeting new people can be overwhelming
    • Remembering countless new names
    • Understanding coworker’s job titles and duties
  • New place
    • Familiarizing yourself with your new environment can feel uncomfortable and nerve racking
    • If you now work in a large office building or factory, you may get lost
    • It can take time to feel like you know your way around
  • New routine
    • Timing out your new commute can take up to a year as you adjust to seasonally changing weather disturbances and traffic patterns
    • Finding new coffee shops, restaurants, and quick stops for errands that are all local to your new place of work can take time and patience
  • Understanding your new boss
    • Your old boss may have been relaxed, while your new boss may have higher expectations and not be so friendly, or visa versa
    • Learning how to communicate and please your boss is a crucial part of being successful on the job
  • Different responsibilities
    • A new job generally requires new job tasks, duties, and expectations
    • Learning how to complete these expectations in a timely, professional, and correct manner can be stressful
A man in the background pounding the table with crumpled papers on it

Managing New Job Anxiety

We have all been the new person on the job. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand why starting a new job can be so stressful. If the anxiety is not managed, serious mental health issues could be at risk. Thus, it is important to learn how to manage the expected stress.

Use some of these healthy-minded tips to help ease the stress of entering a new job in order stay professional, balanced, and yourself.

  1. Ask for help
    1. Reach out to close friends and family members who have recently changed jobs to gain to support and encouragement
    2. Communicate directly with your new coworkers and/or boss regarding any questions or concerns in order to feel confident in how you complete your work
    3. Seek professional help from a therapist if you need guidance through talk therapy to help manage your anxiety and how it may be affecting your work and personal life
  2. View new coworkers as people
    1. Although it's important to be professional, try not to enter into a new work environment with a cold or nervous attitude
    2. Who knows, your new coworkers could become some of your new best friends!
  3. Avoid office/workplace drama and politics
    1. Always try to separate yourself from the distractions of drama in the office, especially if you are new
  4. Breathe
    1. Take time throughout your work day to pause and breathe consciously
    2. Important times to remember to do this include: before a presentation, meeting, or important phone call
  5. Maintain your work and home life balance
    1. Helps you stay true to yourself and those around you
  6. Keep up your routine outside work
    1. Exercise regularly
    2. Healthy sleep habits
    3. Eating healthy meals and snacks
    4. Social life get togethers
  7. Indulge in a hobby that specifically relieves stress
    1. Yoga
    2. Nightly baths
    3. Gardening
    4. Boxing
    5. Running
  8. Remember everyone was once new
    1. Putting it into perspective that everyone at your new workplace was also once the “new person” should help you relax a bit
  9. Learning curve
    1. Managers should understand and expect that new employees will make some mistakes
    2. In order to be a successful employee, managers are looking to see that you can learn from those mistakes and improve
  10. Most importantly, be yourself!
    1. You would not have been hired initially if you had not been YOU in the first place
Coworkers looking happy and shaking hands

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