In this guide, we will discuss “How to not be nervous for the first day at work”, understand what happens when we feel nervous or anxious and what to do to cope with it
How to not be nervous for the first day at work?
We ask “How not to be nervous on the first day at work?” when we are about to start, but have we done something different to not be nervous at work? Or have you tried everything and nothing seems to work? Well, here are a few tips and tricks on how you can manage your anxiety at work:
- Since it is your first day, remind yourself it is normal to feel nervous. You are adjusting to a new environment, new colleagues, a new boss/manager.
- Plan your day. It can be useful to set up a schedule and organize yourself for the day ahead but remember things may change along the way so be flexible
- Remember, it is normal if you don’t know how to do something. You do not have to do it perfectly on the first day. Allow yourself to make mistakes, it is part of the process.
- Be on your best behaviour. Stay polite and meet and greet the people you will work with.
- Write things down. This is the best way to remember what you need to do without forgetting.
So let’s go more in-depth on the tips we have just mentioned. Remember your job interview, your heart was racing, your palms sweaty, you were feeling very uncomfortable, but you managed to get the job due to your unique skills and CV. This anxious reaction is very common when you are in a situation that is new to you or you feel you can’t control. Next, we will talk about what happens inside our bodies when we are having this type of reaction.
The “flight or fight” response
Now we will understand a bit more about what happens inside our bodies when we are feeling nervous since most of the time we are unaware of what is going on. Your nervous system is divided into two main networks: the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the Peripheral Nervous System (nerves coming out of the central nervous system).
The Central Nervous System (CNS) would be the one responsible for processing sensory information retrieved from stimuli on the environment, learning and consolidating memories, balance, coordination, among others.
On the other hand, we have the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) which contains all the nerves in the body that lie outside the brain and spinal cord, for instance, nerves from your skin, muscles, and organs. They contain cells that detect sensory information such as what you get to smell, see or feel, and they carry messages to the Central Nervous System.
The PNS is divided into Somatic Peripheral Nervous System, which controls voluntary functions such as smiling, jumping, walking, talking, basically functions you can control. In contrast, we have the Autonomic Peripheral Nervous System, which controls involuntary (automatic) functions such as breathing, heartbeat, digestion, hormone release, among other functions you can’t control and yes, this is the system responsible for your anxious response.
Autonomic Peripheral Nervous System: Sympathetic vs Parasympathetic
Up to this point, we have seen how the CNS and the PNS have different structures and functions, but they are communicating all the time through the stimuli or signals from the environment that the CNS picks up. This could be changing your body temperature or sending extra blood to a particular area of your body.
Also, we can conclude that the effects tend to change according to the situation you are in and also which part of your Autonomic System is in charge at that particular moment either your sympathetic nervous system, which excites your body’s functions or the parasympathetic nervous system that subdue them.
Together, they are the systems that make your body experience such as stress, relaxation, anxiety, fear, and defiance. However, even if the word “Sympathetic” sounds so comforting and “not so bad at all” you may want to think again. This is the system that is responsible for alerting your body and preparing you to either “fight or flight” when you are in a threatening or potentially dangerous situation.
Throughout the years (millions of years of evolution) this system is the one that activates our survival instinct releasing neurochemical and a series of hormones that prepare you to react to the threat. However, this system is also responsible for activating your alarm during public speaking, when meeting someone for the first time or when facing your first day at a new job.
Even though they are not threatening situations in nature, your brain does process them as such and reacts accordingly. This is why training your body to cope with stress and anxiety is not easy due to the “automatic responses” you can’t seem to control such as a faster heart rate or breathing rate, sweating, shaking/trembling, etc.
What can I do to stop being nervous?
Being nervous is not something that we can stop completely and we should not fight the feeling, instead, we need to understand what is happening so we can develop coping skills. Here we will discuss some tips and tricks that can help you cope with your first-day work anxiety, but as we have discussed, if it feels too overwhelming, nothing seems to work and symptoms worsen then seek professional advice.
- It is completely normal to feel nervous
As you may know now, it is completely normal to feel nervous at work, especially if it is your first day but remember that feeling anxious most of the time or anxiety symptoms worsening could be considered a sign of having an anxiety disorder that needs to be assessed and treated by a mental health professional.
If anxiety starts to kick in just remind yourself “what I am feeling is real, normal and temporary.”
- Plan your day
Planning your day may relieve yourself from that feeling of uncertainty and “what to expect” for the day following ahead. It is very useful to avoid checking your phone first thing in the morning, even though we know how important it is for you to stay informed about what’s new on Facebook. Social media can be a very powerful source of anxiety and it won’t help you on your first day at all.
Instead, try to keep a journal and start planning your day. Also, you could dedicate a few minutes to some mindful meditation to focus on the present, the “here and now”. This will help you feel more relaxed and tackle any challenge that may present with a different light.
- It is OK if you don’t know how to do something
If it is your first day at a new job position or you have to face new challenges then it is OK not to know entirely what you are doing, that is part of the process. What you can do is ask around some colleagues about guidance on how to do something you are not used to and fully concentrate on learning it the best way you can so you avoid having to ask in the future. However, if you need to ask 10 times it is also OK, you are learning and everyone learns at a different pace.
- Be on your best behaviour
When you are starting a new job at a new company, it brings new policies and procedures. Make sure you get familiar with them to avoid having any serious faults. Also, it is important to be polite and to meet and greet the people you will work with.
When you meet new people, it is recommended to smile at them, so they know you are approachable and friendly.
- Write things down
If you have a notepad, your cellphone, a journal or an agenda keep it with you at all times so you can write down any tasks, deadlines, or useful information you may need to develop your job duties.
It will also help you remember things that can be easily forgotten, especially if you have a lot of things to think about at once. However, if you do not have any of the mentioned items then you can use an app on your phone or sticky notes to help you remember.
Why is this blog about How to not be nervous on the first day at work important?
We discussed how not to be nervous at work during your first day, a few tips and tricks and how normal it is. Besides, you may now be fully aware of what happens to your body once you start feeling nervous or anxious. Even though there are automatic reactions that we can’t control, you can train your brain to shift the threatening perception you may have in situations such as your first day at work, a public presentation or meeting new people.
The way we perceive stimuli and the connotation we give to it is at the end responsible for how our body reacts but don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t manage at first. It requires practice and perseverance.
Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How to not be nervous for the first day at work
Is it normal to be nervous on your first day of work?
It is completely normal to feel nervous on your first day of work. You are adjusting to a new environment, new people, new tasks, etc.
How do I overcome anxiety in my new job?
To overcome your anxiety in your new job, remember to:
– Do a regular physical activity.
– Communicate how you feel but be assertive.
– Organize and manage your time.
– Stay positive and set realistic expectations about the job.
– Get enough quality sleep.
How do you beat the first day of nerves?
To beat the first day of nerves it is recommended to:
– Plan your route the day before so you can be on time.
– Get enough rest the night before.
– Watch out for the dress code.
– Eat properly and healthy.
– Be confident about your skills.
– Don’t be afraid to ask questions since this will prevent unnecessary mistakes.
How long does it take to feel comfortable in a job?
Getting comfortable in a new job will take some time while you adjust yourself to it. Normally, it is believed that it will take around two to three months but some employees say they have felt they needed a year to feel comfortable in their job.
What we recommend for curbing Anxiety
Below are some of the services and products we recommend for anxiety
- Anxiety Weighted Blankets are by far the number 1 thing every person who suffers from anxiety should at least try. Anxiety Blankets may improve your sleep, allow you to fall asleep faster and you can even carry them around when chilling at home.
- Online therapy is another thing we should all try. We highly recommend Online therapy with a provider who not only provides therapy but a complete mental health toolbox to help your wellness.
- With over 50,000 participants, this anxiety course may be just what you need to regain control of your life.
- Amber light therapy from Amber lights could increase the melatonin production in your body and help you sleep better at night. An Amber light lamp helps reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and increases overall sleep quality.
Rolfe, A. (n.d) How-to: Stop feeling nervous about starting a new job. Retrieved from Reed.co.uk.
Fairygodboss.com: “Lessons on How to Not Be Nervous at Work: 10 Essential Strategies”.
Sandiu, A. (2017, Nov.) Five things to remember when you’re dealing with work anxiety. Retrieved from Medicalnewstoday.com.
Hoos, M. (n.d.) Help, I Can’t Relax! 6 Tips to Beat Work Anxiety. Retrieved from Themuse.com.