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  1. Blog
  2. Career Development
  3. August 19, 2022

How to Handle New Job Anxiety

Embrace change gracefully

Woman holding her head coping with new job anxiety
Photo courtesy of Kayla Koss

Millions of people have started new jobs every month in 2022—which is great! It also means a lot of new job anxiety. Sometimes that’s good—a few “I’m making a change!” butterflies can be easy to deal with. Then sometimes it’s distracting, paralyzing, even physically painful. 

Leaving your company and starting a new role elsewhere can be the absolute best decision for you and still make you anxious. Regardless of how wonderful (and necessary!) the change is, there’s a lot of it happening at once: meeting people, talking about yourself, proving yourself, not knowing where anything is, hitting roadblocks with your tech, not getting along with someone, working too late or not late enough…  

If you find yourself overthinking these potential new job stressors, or if you plan to start looking for a new job and want to be ready for the accompanying nerves, here are some tips on how to deal with new job anxiety so you can actually enjoy this amazing step you’re taking. 

New job anxiety, women, and change

“Did you know that women are nearly twice as prone to anxiety as men are [23.4% vs. 14.3%]?” career coach Angie Callen says. “Yep, if you needed statistical proof that you worry more than your male counterpart, there you have it. We also tend to be harder on ourselves professionally, which can make changing jobs feel like, ‘whoa!’” 

Indeed, many studies have confirmed what a lot of us can relate to: Women are more likely than men to feel anxious, to worry, to be more prone to stress… fun! There are a few reasons for the trend—including decades of workplace gender discrimination when it comes to pay, hiring, and promotion. (This is why InHerSight has covered mental health and your work so much; the more accessible info that’s available, the better. That’s also why we have some of these daily positive affirmations taped to our laptops.) 

A big reason for anxiety is simply that it involves a change. You can tell yourself a million times that you need a change and still get anxiety when it happens. 

Start with your mindset: Can you embrace change? 

“Change is hard,” Callen says. “Change is also a certainty in life we wouldn't get anywhere without, and I think that's the key to overcoming the anxiety that comes when something new and exciting is on the horizon. Some anxiety about a new job is normal, especially if you've been in the same role, company, or job type for a long time, and you're now finding yourself going into a world you don't know. The important thing is to focus on the bigger picture and your reasoning behind seeking the change. 

“That ‘why’ is the counterpart to fear. It will help you wrap your head around the fact that you're going to go do something different that, potentially, you've never done before. That's okay,” Callen says. 

You may have heard this already, but it’s hard to do: frame change as a good thing, even with the nervousness it triggers, to reduce the power anxiety has over you. 

“Anytime you start anything new, whether you're learning how to ski or cook a new cuisine, there's a learning curve,” Callen says. “You can do it, you can learn, and you can overcome. If we only ever did what we knew how to do or were ‘qualified’ to do, no one would change jobs, change careers, or innovate. Remember that. Growth never happens in the comfort zone!” 

So you’re working on embracing growth; now what? 

Actions to take when dealing with new job anxiety 

First, try turning your “why” into your daily mantra

“Acknowledging you're nervous about change is important; it's when that anxiety debilitates you from taking action that it becomes more problematic,” Callen says. “All in all, if you can say, ‘'I’m a little anxious about changing jobs, but I know it's going to help me [insert goal/WHY here],’ your head is in the right place. If it takes repeating that phrase as an affirmation each morning and evening or journaling about the positives and negatives of your feelings, then do it!” 

You don’t have to tackle your job anxiety alone, though (and shouldn’t if you’re not feeling any better!). Sometimes it helps to remove concerns you have by connecting with people who can give you useful feedback. 

“Leave your previous job on exceptional terms by having lunch or coffee with key colleagues and stakeholders, buttoning up your workload seamlessly, and reflecting on the legacy and contributions you made during your time there,” Callen says. “Ask your new employer for some ways to get up to speed and learn about your new role, the company, and the subject matter before you start so you're reducing the number of unknowns.” 

And look beyond the people you’re closest to for help. “Find unbiased, wise counsel who you can talk to about both the worry and the excitement; someone unbiased is important here,” Callen says. “Your best friend may just perpetuate your worry because they have empathy for you, whereas someone slightly removed can be that neutral voice of reason who helps you adopt the right mindset.” 

Career coaches and mentors are great to tell you what you need to hear and might not be able to tell yourself. 

Once you make it to your first day, use our guide to starting a new job to help with the change. We outline steps to take on the first day, week, month, and three months to set you up for success. These include how to get to know your team, how to interact with your manager to get feedback on how you’re doing, and how to challenge yourself in your new workplace.

If you find your new job anxiety turns into not-so-new job anxiety, here are eight tips for dealing with workplace stress. Don’t forget to call on the pros—therapists, your primary care doctor—if your anxiety is disrupting your life.  

Read more: Acing the Two-Weeks Notice Period: 6 Tips for a Professional Exit

Give yourself a break

While you’re trying to soothe your anxiety, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get rid of it. The last thing you need is more pressure. Sometimes just admitting “I’m anxious, I’m trying to work through it, but I’m going to be nervous,” can make you feel a little better. 

“I think a lot of how we handle situational anxiety has to do with mindset, but I also think admitting that you're not going to get rid of it completely is okay, too,” Callen says. “Focus on what you're going toward and not what you are leaving behind, and root that in why you decided to make a job change in the first place. That futuristic thinking will help put you in a positive mindset that will subdue the anxiety; however, the anxiety may not completely go away until you start and have been in your new role for several months (that is also okay!).” 

Read more: The Best Self-Help Podcasts for Women

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