Moving to Japan from Taiwan was easy in some respects: I was much more comfortable speaking Japanese and I had an existing network of friends and family in Tokyo.
Despite those massive advantages, the fact remained that even though I was moving to Tokyo to teach English, I still couldn’t shake the anxiety that came with the new job.
Yes, the fact that I was staying in the same field was helpful. Yes, I had transferable skills from my old job. But there was more to think about this time.
I would no longer be teaching children; I would be teaching adults. This meant that my teaching style would inevitably change.
There was also the fact that I had to learn to navigate the company culture not only as a new employee but specifically as an independent contractor.
These were just a few factors that contributed to my job anxiety. However, that anxiety gradually dissipated as time passed. Here are my top tips that helped me work through negative thoughts and anxious feelings.
How Long Does New Job Anxiety Last?
You may experience anxiety for a week or two leading up to starting your new job.
For most people, they’ll experience anxiety for anywhere from 1-2 days to a week or two after beginning their new job.
This is normal and it’s also normal to feel imposter syndrome when transitioning to a new role. Just remind yourself that you are worthy and qualified to be there.
8 Ways To Overcome New Job Anxiety
Familiarize Yourself with Your Workplace Surroundings / Plan Your Route
One of the first things I did when I moved to Tokyo was to plan my route to my new workplace. I took the train from my apartment to my workplace before my official start date in order to familiarize myself with the best route for me.
I also took some time to walk around the area surrounding my workplace in order to determine what was around me. Did I have access to a bank should I need extra cash in a bind?
Did I have a convenience store near me where I could grab food or supplies on a break? Where was the nearest ATM machine?
While your position may not require you to navigate downtown Tokyo, planning your route in advance and familiarizing yourself with the surrounding area is helpful in easing new job anxiety because it will ensure that you will arrive in a timely fashion, which helps in leaving a good first impression.
Establish a Work Routine (as Much as Possible)
Although this took some time as I found my teaching style, establishing a work routine was very helpful in navigating new job anxiety in the first place.
One example of this was asking my new boss if I could be assigned a cubicle in the building so that I knew exactly where I would be teaching every day.
My new manager very kindly assigned me to the cubicle next to hers, which enabled me to listen and learn from her teaching style.
This also gave me the ability to knock on her cubicle wall and ask her a question if I encountered an issue during the first few months (which I definitely took advantage of).
After a lot of listening and sifting through advice from my more experienced co-workers, I established a routine that I was comfortable with.
I would get to the building, go to my little cubicle and prepare lessons for my clients before starting to teach well into the evening.
Learning what worked best for me and building a routine around those things gave me structure, which helped immensely in easing the anxiety surrounding my new position.
Prepare the Night Before
This means selecting and laying out the clothes the night before. Make sure that your clothes are clean and pressed; take a few minutes to iron or steam your slacks and shirts.
Prepare your lunch—pack your bag with all of your supplies and leave it by the door.
Having everything prepared in advance that you can alleviates unnecessary anxiety in an already anxiety-inducing situation.
There’s a good chance that starting off the next day with everything prepped will help you also have a positive attitude – you can prepare and get through any obstacle that may come up.
Engage in Grounding Exercises
It’s a good idea to manage stress levels or feelings of anxiety that may come up. It may be helpful to lean on anxiety coping mechanisms that you have found beneficial in the past.
Some potential techniques include:
What works for one individual may not work for another; my best recommendation is to find an anxiety coping technique that works for you.
The best way for me to relax may not be the best thing for you, and that’s ok.
Write in a Journal
I have always been partial to writing as a means of processing my emotions. While journaling may not be everyone’s cup of tea, writing your thoughts freely on a blank page that won’t talk back to you (otherwise known as a brain dump) can do wonders for clearing your head.
The first week at a new job is always challenging, so taking space to notice and process really helps, especially if you have feelings of imposter syndrome, or have lingering feelings of anxiety from a previous job.
Prioritize Your Physical and Mental Health
The structure of routines can be invaluable in the face of job anxiety. For me that means taking my morning walk, exercising for at least 20 minutes and taking my vitamins and medication along with my breakfast.
If you create time to lean on familiar rituals and do things that are important for your health, you will be less susceptible to burnout and unnecessary sources of anxiety when you face new people, new things, or even a new career.
Decorate Your Workspace
Make your workspace an area that you want to get to. Things like pictures of loved ones and words of encouragement that help motivate you or relax can make a space feel like home.
While I couldn’t personalize my workspace while I was working abroad in East Asia as a result of company regulations, I made sure to personalize my space prior to beginning my most recent position.
I invested in a few art prints that I love and propped them up on my desk. I’ve also decorated the bulletin boards above my desk with notes from friends and photos of family, which helped tremendously during the first few months of my job.
Connect with a Co-Worker
It’s never easy to be a new person in a well-established group. I was lucky that one of my new colleagues took the first step to very kindly reached out to me within my first few days of working in my new position.
Each respective team reached out to me within the first few weeks of my job and kindly walked me through their projects and processes. This time allowed me to familiarize myself with each respective department and ask questions that enabled me to do a good job at my new role.
Being able to meet with my new co-workers through those meetings gave me an opportunity to connect with all of them and gave them an opportunity to get to know me, which appeased my anxious thoughts tremendously in the first few months of the job.
Connecting with your colleagues will give you the opportunity to ask questions and listen to insights that will help you ease into your new position.
In Summary: How Long Does New Job Anxiety Last?
Job anxiety is a natural part of the process of adjusting to a new role for most new hires, even if you don’t struggle with an anxiety disorder. With that said, perhaps the most important thing in adjusting to a new job is to have patience with yourself.
Sometimes job seekers are so focused on landing the job offer that they forget the transition period that comes with starting the job. It takes time to acclimate to a new environment and a new culture at a new company.
There will always be a learning curve! The good news is that over time you will settle into a routine and become comfortable with your new position.
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