Getting a new job is a great feeling. Not only was your application impressive enough to beat the other candidates, you sailed through the interview stage, got on well with the boss and landed the position.
On the one hand, starting a new job is exciting and a confidence boost. On the other, it can be nerve-wracking to start refresh. The very first day can be particularly stressful as you try to navigate new assignments, colleagues and bosses - all while trying to prove your worth.
It’s important to remember that even the most capable and experienced professional feels a little out of their depth on their first day. So why do we get so anxious - and what can we do to ease the pressure?
“Whatever level of experience you're at, it's natural to feel nervous on your first day at a new job - you want to do your best, achieve your goals and make a positive impression on your co-workers,” says Tania Diggory, founder of Calmer, a training organisation that empowers entrepreneurs, freelancers and business teams to nurture good mental wellbeing.
“Putting yourself in a new environment places you out of your comfort zone - everything is new, takes time to learn, and we all deal with change in different ways.”
Stress is a natural response in the body and in some ways, a short burst of stress can be seen as a useful signal, Diggory explains. Essentially, it reaffirms your values, what is important to you and what you feel passionate about - you’ve started a job you really wanted, and you want to do well.
“Stress doesn't have to work against you - it's a question of how you choose to channel your energy,” she adds.
To make the transition into a new job as smooth as possible, make sure you are organised and complete any paperwork necessary. It can help to make a checklist of anything you need to bring with you on your first day too, as well as all the things you need to do.
Give yourself plenty of time to get ready in the morning and lay out your clothes the night before, so you aren’t panicking about what to wear.
Take in as much information as you can
In the first few days, try to focus and learn as much as you can but don’t put pressure on yourself to know everything about your new job.
It can take a while to get to grips with a job and the way things work at a new company. There will always be things to learn and this can take time - nobody is expecting you to know everything straight away. If you’re unsure about something, ask questions rather than worrying unnecessarily.
What we think directly affects how we feel and therefore how we behave. “With this in mind, try to be aware of your thinking patterns and avoid dwelling too much on feelings of nervousness,” Diggory says. “Focus on making a unique impression in your new workplace by taking action, and showing yourself what you're truly capable of.”
Get to know others
If you are shy or introverted, getting to know your new colleagues can seem daunting - but chatting to a few friendly faces can help you settle into a new job. Finding someone to grab a coffee with or to join for lunch can help you feel less awkward about being in a new environment.
You’re also more likely to find out about the inner workings of a new company, which can be helpful too.
“Stress can have a direct impact on how we mentally, physically and emotionally feel,” Diggory says. “So the first step is to remember to take a few moments throughout the day to take in slow, deep breaths and release slowly, and repeat that cycle.
“When we feel stressed or nervous it can affect how we breathe, which can lead to feeling light-headed, tense and nauseous. Breathing slowly will help to expand your lung capacity, increase oxygen exchange which in turn helps you to keep focused, and most importantly, it calms down your nervous system.”
A new job can be overwhelming and when you’re panicking, it’s easy to forget that you are qualified to do the task at hand. Remind yourself that you've worked hard to achieve this role and to get to this point in your career.
“Take a moment to reflect and allow yourself to feel proud of your accomplishments to date - you've been hired for a reason,” Diggory adds.