In the following brief guide, the reader will find basic information about new job stress, some of the most common characteristics and some practical ways to cope with it so that it does not become dysfunctional.
New job stress
New job stress is the response that people present when faced with a situation under which they may perceive a certain threat, since they may consider that their skills are not sufficient to carry out the tasks required of them. It is a reaction that, in principle, is normal, and obeys the assessment or reading that each person makes of the situation they are facing.
At some point in your life have you had the experience of changing jobs? what was it like to start over and face many new things? Maybe it wasn’t so easy, right? A new location, how am I going to transport myself to that place? Is transportation comfortable?
How about my new colleagues? Will I be able to deal with these 20 people who will always be around me, sharing the same space? The above, and many other questions, are generated in certain circumstances when people experience stress under particular conditions.
New job stress: isn’t it just some tension?
To begin with, it is important to take as a starting point the fact that it is normal to experience a certain level of stress in different situations. After all, stress refers to the relative “weight” that certain situations exert on us, as human beings.
Given the above, we can deduce that under almost any circumstance there is some level of stress, such as that force exerted on us by what is around us. For example, it is not the same level of stress that is experienced when you are with your family, as the level of stress that is experienced in the workplace, in a work meeting.
Let’s look at it in a little more detail. Let’s say we’re at home, at dinnertime. To begin with, all the people who are there are familiar to us, and so we feel a certain comfort, after all, they have almost always been there. There is not much in them that creates stress for us since we are somewhat accustomed to their company.
On the other hand, at work, the people we live with can be known, but only in a work context. At work, there is a constant evaluation by others and ourselves of our capabilities and our ability to cope with different situations. There seems to be a little more tension/stress here, doesn’t it?
So, stress can indeed be defined as some level of tension in the face of a situation. Sometimes it will be lower and sometimes higher, but it is the same tension after all. When it is very high, we even feel its consequences very clearly. We do not feel comfortable.
In the business meeting, for example, the conversation is about a very important issue and this makes us even start to feel tired, with some muscle discomfort and a slight headache: it is the stress increasing its intensity level.
New job stress: how does it work?
Now that we understand the above, we can think specifically about the context of the job and try to understand more clearly what is meant by new job stress. Next, we will evaluate and reflect on all those factors that are involved when you get a new job and that are potential stress generators in us.
Let’s start with the place, the physical space where we are going to spend so many hours of each of our days. Is it a comfortable place? Is there certain privacy or personal space to carry out my activities? Is the lighting adequate? Is the chair comfortable enough? What about the technological equipment, can I handle it, or maybe I will need some training?
The answer to the above questions will determine a certain level of stress that the person will experience. New job stress is also related to these types of factors since they can have an effect on us. If there are many elements at the infrastructure level that make us uncomfortable or difficult, the level of stress will increase more than expected.
On the other hand, what about the functions I’ll have in this job? At this point, when we talk about new job stress, we ask ourselves about our job specifically, about what we will be responsible for constantly. If these functions are very far from our current training and skill level, a higher level of stress will be generated.
This is usually the case for most people when they start a new job. There is a period of training in which they learn everything they will be responsible for, and as they learn and master these functions, the stress level gradually decreases. Has this ever happened to you?
Given the above, it is relatively normal for new job stress to occur. After all, there are a number of factors that we are getting used to, and it is normal for them to create more work for us at the beginning.
Now let’s move on to interpersonal relationships. How about co-workers? Is there anything about them that I find particularly threatening or unpleasant? Maybe one or more of the co-workers are very demanding, and constantly asking for our attention, this could also generate a higher level of stress.
In our old job, we were used to jokes, bad jokes, and that partner who is always in a bad mood and can never be talked to easily. However, in this new place we are just starting to get to know all these kinds of details, and while that is happening it is normal that we feel a higher level of stress or tension while we are at work.
As we have seen, when talking about new job stress it is important to make a proper reading to determine if the level of stress is to be expected, given the external elements. Usually, it is, and all of our stress can be explained from this list of factors we have discussed, as well as others that might be involved.
New job stress: how to manage it?
Given the above scenario, which to some extent may be within the limits of what is normal or expected given the circumstances, we can ask ourselves what to do to manage or regulate the activation we are experiencing in the new job.
Finding some familiarity, less new job stress
An alternative to start reducing the level of stress we may experience when starting a new job is to create familiarity in spaces outside the workplace. We already know that our mind likes to be in control and have a certain level of prediction of what is going to happen. So, we can provide that level of predictability by trying to get back into all of our routines outside of work.
Routine is everything we do in our daily lives, and when they become actions carried out on “autopilot” they generate a minimum level of stress in us. After all, they don’t involve much effort on our part, and there is a certain feeling of comfort.
For that reason, it is important that while the adaptation stage at work is taking place, we can return to our routines at home and in our leisure spaces. We may like to exercise in the evening, or early in the morning. We may also have a ritual with our friends every Wednesday and get together to watch a television series. Anyway, people have many kinds of routines.
By respecting them and putting them into practice, it will decrease the stress level and help us deal with the new things we will be encountering at work. This way, everything will not be a reason to adapt, and our activation levels will be a little more balanced.
New job stress: routines and more routines
On the other hand, at work, we also have the opportunity to start establishing routines and thus decrease the level of tension that falls on us. Of course, at work, there are too many new things, but for some reason, we are there, and there is a certain level of control that we can start to take over. For example, we can organize the workspace so that it is familiar to us (it can be similar to the previous worksite).
On the other hand, we can explore our tools and resources, so that we are clear about where each thing we might eventually need is located. The computer, if it is the case, we could accommodate and personalize it in a way that allows us to perform our tasks in a comfortable way.
As you can see, it’s all about giving our mind and brain clues that the situation is increasingly under control and that all that level of tension is not necessary. In fact, we will most likely end up making our workplace a new routine, almost as predictable as other areas of our daily lives.
Remember: the situation will change
It is crucial to keep in mind that all this related to new job stress will happen in a transitory way. Given the way we operate, what usually happens is that those activities that we repeat a lot become routines and habits, of which we have almost total control. In fact, that’s the same reason why sometimes work gets boring, you know?
A certain level of stress is necessary at all times because that means that there are new things and that life is not becoming too boring or monotonous. When that happens, we have almost no level of stress, at least not because of the external elements around us.
In short, try to be patient with yourself and your reactions, and over time, situations will adjust to make them more predictable, and this will significantly lower your stress level.
Not just people with new jobs, but university students also feel stress (Dissertation stress) before graduating. Hence, feeling stressful because of a change is normal, but you shouldn’t let it take hold of you completely.
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New job stress is a normal reaction to a situation that presents multiple factors that generate uncertainty and makes us miss the comfort of having control of almost every situation. It is important to understand this and to be patient with yourself, as well as to put into practice some recommendations to manage the situation in an appropriate way.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about new job stress
How stressful is getting a new job?
Starting a new job can generate a high level of stress, and this is because there are many new factors to which we must begin to adapt. To some extent, these reactions are normal and to be expected.
How do you deal with stress in a new job?
Some recommendations for managing stress when getting a new job are: create and maintain external routines, so that a sense of familiarity is generated, try to establish routines in the new job, and finally, wait for the transitory stress reaction to pass.
How long does it take to get acclimated to a new job?
This time may vary from person to person. However, in general terms, it takes about 3 months to acclimate to a new job.
What are the most stressful jobs?
Some of the most stressful jobs are military, firefighter, airline pilot, police officer, event coordinator, news reporter, and public relations executive.
How do I feel confident in a new job?
There are some recommendations for strengthening confidence in the new job. These include remembering why you are there, trusting that you will gain more control of the situation as you adjust, normalizing what is new, and performing your duties in a satisfactory manner.
- HBR Guide to Managing Stress at Work
- The Stress Solution: 4 steps to a calmer, happier, healthier you
- MANAGING STRESS For Better Physical & Mental Health: The Self-Treating Patient Book 8
- Your New Job Is Stressing Out Your Brain–Here’s How To Help It Relax
- [TED Ideas] Starting a new job is stressful. But what if there was a better way to do it?
- Stress Management