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6 Proven Ways to Handle Being Overwhelmed at New Job

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Starting a new job can be overwhelming, but there are proven strategies to navigate it successfully. Discover the keys to thrive in your new workplace.

Are you grappling with a feeling of overwhelm in your new job? This situation is quite common among newly employed individuals and can impede productivity.

Whether it’s your first job or your tenth, you may find yourself experiencing varying degrees of stress in your workplace.

If, during your initial days or even the first week on the job, you feel a flutter of butterflies in your stomach, rest assured that you are not alone; feeling overwhelmed in a new job is a widespread occurrence.

That’s precisely why many companies offer orientation and onboarding programs for their newly recruited employees, aiming to alleviate the overwhelming emotions that often accompany the commencement of a new role.

This onboarding process ensures that you not only feel welcomed and valued but also receive the necessary training and support to enhance your productivity.

It’s important to understand that feeling overwhelmed in a new job for a day or two is perfectly normal.

However, when sleepless nights, weight loss, and persistent panic attacks persist for a month or more, it could be indicative of an anxiety disorder, which requires professional attention.

You may find yourself pondering questions such as:

  • What if I can’t handle the new tasks assigned to me?
  • Is the nature of my new job significantly different from my initial expectations?
  • What if my new co-workers or boss have high expectations of my abilities?

The uncertainties inherent in starting a new job can leave you feeling intimidated by your co-workers, uneasy, or even questioning your qualifications despite your initial excitement.

To effectively manage this feeling of overwhelm in your new job, it’s essential to pinpoint the root causes.

Are you concerned about your job performance? Worried about fitting in with your new co-workers? Or could there be other contributing factors?

In this article, we’ll explore strategies for handling the sensation of overwhelm in a new job and ways to address the anxiety and stress that often accompany this transition.

Find out: 9 ways to make the most of unemployment

Overwhelmed At New Job; What Does It Mean?

overwhelmed at new job

The sensation of being overwhelmed when embarking on a new job is often rooted in anxiety, a natural emotional response that primes us to be vigilant in situations that appear daunting.

This emotional surge triggers a stress reaction within our bodies, manifesting in physical, emotional, and mental symptoms.

Physical Indicators

Feeling overwhelmed in a new job can manifest in various physical ways: nausea, reduced appetite, muscle tension, headaches, restlessness, and disruptions in your sleep patterns. You may struggle to either fall asleep or stay awake.

As anxiety escalates to a panic attack, you may also encounter symptoms like shortness of breath, abdominal discomfort, dizziness, shivering, and a racing heartbeat.

Mental Manifestation

The experience of being overwhelmed in a new job can also give rise to mental symptoms. These may include persistent worry, negative thoughts, and a pervasive sense of impending danger.

Irritability, heightened aggression, and difficulty concentrating can become apparent. Additionally, you might experience a loss of confidence or perceive the situation as beyond your control.

Feeling Overwhelmed At New Job; Is It Normal?

Feeling overwhelmed in a new job is entirely natural; in fact, it would be rather surprising if you didn’t experience a sense of overwhelm on your very first day at work.

As per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, experiencing “a bit of anxiety” is perfectly ordinary.

This anxiety can actually serve as a helpful focus enhancer. Nevertheless, if the worry becomes excessive, it can indeed hinder your productivity when trying to accomplish your tasks.

It’s quite common to feel overwhelmed by job-related concerns such as the company’s stability, job security, childcare, financial matters, the delicate balance between work and personal life, and the intricate task of managing your schedule.

Why Do People Feel Overwhelmed At New Job, Even If It’s A Remote Job?

According to Pauline Yeghnazar Peck a licensed psychologist: Anxiety is the body’s natural response to a perceived threat.

Embarking on a new endeavor is inherently uncertain, whether it involves remote work, an in-person role, a title similar to ones you’ve previously held, or an entirely different field.

Commencing a new job can often induce a feeling of being overwhelmed, as a multitude of questions arises:

  • Will I excel in this unfamiliar role?
  • Will my colleagues embrace me?
  • Will my boss or manager endorse my contributions?
  • Can I effectively lead those under my supervision?

And these are just the beginning of the inquiries that may flood your mind.

Overwhelmed At New Job? What Emotions Are Normal For People To Have

It’s perfectly normal to experience a wide range of emotions during this time.

At times, these emotions may seem contradictory – you may find yourself feeling both anxious and excited, overwhelmed yet curious, timid but also confident.

Your mind may be filled with a multitude of thoughts, pondering whether the job you’ve envisioned will align with your real-world experience in the role and within the office environment.

You might be overwhelmed as a result of carrying concerns from past workplaces and positions, while also holding expectations that the positive aspects of your previous roles will be mirrored in this new opportunity.

You could be eager to discover which aspects of the job will allow you to shine and which may present challenges.

Additionally, you may be keen to uncover whether the company culture you witnessed during the interview aligns with the actual employee experience.

Find out: 5 Ways to Recharge Yourself on Your Off Days

How Is Feeling Overwhelmed At New Job Helpful? How Can It Be Harmful Too?

feeling overwhelmed at new job

According to Pauline Yeghnazar Peck, “The overwhelming alarm goes off when we believe we’re facing danger, even if we’re not.” This sensation offers us a premonition and assists us in maintaining a heightened state of alertness, thereby increasing our chances of survival and success.

Experiencing a feeling of being overwhelmed in a new job can be instrumental in crafting actionable plans that align with our aspirations for success and efficiency in the unfamiliar work environment.

Such feelings prompt us to pay meticulous attention to every detail, including preparing more thoroughly, maintaining focus, exhibiting attentiveness, diligently taking notes during training, seeking clarification when necessary, and proceeding with a judicious degree of caution and observation.

However, if your state of overwhelm becomes so pronounced that it impedes your ability to take constructive action or leads to self-sabotage, it can be detrimental. When your anxiety becomes excessive, it leaves you incapacitated.

Overwhelmed At New Job; Signs and How Long It Will Last?

According to Eric Patterson, LPC, he anticipates the presence of some level of jitters and new-hire anxiety for a week or two, perhaps extending into the first month. This phenomenon should gradually dissipate, with each passing day offering a smoother adjustment throughout those initial weeks and into the first month.

Occasionally, when individuals switch jobs, embark on a new career path, or contend with underlying anxiety disorders, the demands of the job can push them past their breaking point.

In such instances, consideration may need to be given to seeking treatment. This is when the lid is lifted off the box, and the underlying anxiety disorder surfaces as a result of the job.

Kerry Heath, LPC-S, NCC, CEDS-S, concurs, stating, “Symptoms that should raise concern or suggest something beyond mere ‘new hire jitters’ may include panic attacks, reluctance to attend work, concocting excuses to arrive late or leave early, dreading work as the weekend draws to a close, isolating oneself from colleagues, refusing to eat or experiencing significant changes in body weight, an inability to derive pleasure from activities once enjoyed, daily post-work drinking, and thoughts of suicide, among others.

The individual may attribute it to the job, but the underlying disorder was present all along, and the stress and transition associated with the new job have brought it to the forefront.”

Patterson further observes, “If an individual undergoes multiple transitions, such as school and a new job, and fails to attend to their own well-being as they settle into their new position, the impact can catch up with them.”

Feeling Overwhelmed At New Job? How To Find A Therapist

Are you interested in finding a therapist to help you cope with the overwhelming feelings associated with your new job?

You have several options to consider, including: reaching out to someone you trust for recommendations, using an online therapist directory, or seeking a referral from your doctor.

These days, most therapists offer online sessions. This means that instead of commuting to an office, you can attend therapy sessions from the comfort of your own home, either before or after work, in an empty conference room, or even on a park bench during your lunch break.

Therapists’ fees can vary, with session rates typically ranging between $80 and $150 without insurance.

If you have insurance coverage, the cost you’ll pay per session could be significantly lower.

6 Proven Ways To Handle Feeling Overwhelmed At New Job

ways to deal with overwhelmed at new job

A new job, whether it’s your very first out of college or a career switch, can indeed feel overwhelming.

The initial excitement surrounding a fresh career opportunity or your first day at a new company may swiftly morph into a sense of panic.

Hence, here are some valuable tips to help you navigate work-related stress and conquer that daunting feeling that often accompanies a new job.

1. Find The Source of Your Overwhelming Feeling 

When dealing with the overwhelming feelings that often accompany a new job, it becomes essential to embark on a journey of self-discovery.

Understanding the root causes of these emotions is the initial step towards effective management.

If you’re puzzled about your attire choices to blend in, recollect your experience during the interview. What were your prospective colleagues wearing?

Feeling distressed about being put on the spot during interactions with your coworkers Consider preparing an introduction in advance.

Are concerns about your job performance weighing on your mind? Always remember that you secured this position due to your skills and abilities. Don’t hesitate to ask questions when necessary.

This pre-existing anxiety can intensify, particularly when it involves aspects that seem beyond your control. New jobs often bring a multitude of uncertainties.

Several strategies can assist in gaining clarity regarding the sources of your stress:

Journaling, confiding in a friend, or seeking the guidance of a therapist can all contribute to a clearer understanding of your feelings.

Find out: What to Wear to a Summer Interview

2. Figure Out Practical Details Beforehand

The anxiety often associated with the first day at a new job can be significantly reduced by thorough preparation before stepping foot into the workplace.

Choose your work attire the day before to ensure you don’t end up wearing wrinkled, ill-fitting, or clothes with loose threads.

To avoid any morning surprises, it’s essential to get well-prepared the night before.

Concerned about traffic and commute times? Make sure you have a map to your workplace.

Conduct research on your commute routes to your new office, so you know exactly how to get there and how long the journey will take.

Inspect your car to ensure it’s in optimal working condition, and fill up the gas tank a day in advance.

Consider having a light, healthy meal, perhaps a coffee, and also prepare your lunch to ensure you won’t go hungry during your break hours before you find a suitable place to eat.

Arriving a little early on your first day is crucial. This will give you the opportunity to settle in, relax, and feel comfortable before the day’s activities commence.

Find out: 7 Tips for The Morning of Your Interview

3. Practice Self-Validation

Entering an entirely new work environment with different people and ethics can undoubtedly stir up nervousness and unease.

Rather than viewing it this way, why not consider it an opportunity to stand out?

You’ve been granted the chance to impress a new group of colleagues with your remarkable skills and ideas.

As the first day of starting your new position or joining a new company approaches, and your anxiety heightens, it’s crucial to confront and reframe any negative thoughts with positive self-talk.

When the inevitable anxiety of starting a new job creeps in, take a brief pause, inhale deeply, and contemplate why your new employers chose you as the most suitable candidate for the job among the pool of applicants.

Clearly, it’s because you possess the skills and abilities they require.

If you still harbor doubts, select a trait you believe qualified you for the job and repeatedly remind yourself of this trait. This practice will boost your confidence and diminish your overwhelming feelings.

Always have faith in yourself, knowing that you possess all the talent needed to excel in your new job, and savor this exciting new phase of your life.

4. Practice Mindfulness

“When you’re feeling profoundly overwhelmed by the prospect of starting a new job, one of the most effective approaches is to experiment with mindfulness techniques.

While this may not necessarily resolve your overwhelming emotions, it can alleviate the symptoms and even inspire you to contemplate the root causes of your feelings, leading to more productive solutions.

The essence of mindfulness lies in providing you with greater clarity while affording yourself the opportunity to regain composure and relaxation.

Mindfulness techniques have the power to tether you to the present, mitigating the anxiety associated with an uncertain future.

This way, you can acknowledge your overwhelming emotions, gradually embracing them and ultimately releasing their hold on you.” – Alexander Burgemeester, Neuropsychologist & Founder of The Narcissistic Life

5. Talk About It

Feeling overwhelmed in a new job is common, and there’s a high probability that your loved ones have experienced the same scenario.

When you choose to confide in your friends and family about your worries, those jitters can become normalized, making you feel less isolated.

Additionally, spending quality time with loved ones can provide a positive distraction that eases your sense of overwhelm.

Loved ones can offer more than just emotional support; they can help you maintain perspective by reminding you of the qualifications that led to your job offer and all the benefits your anxiety might have obscured—a more fulfilling career, an improved salary and benefits package, or a more flexible schedule.

6. Do Some Shopping for Your New Workspace

Did you know that the feelings of excitement and being overwhelmed often go hand in hand when starting a new job?

Now, here’s an opportunity for you to harness this mix of emotions by reframing your overwhelming feelings as pure excitement.

One effective way that many people express their enthusiasm for a new job is by personalizing their office or workspace. They achieve this by procuring essential supplies such as a calendar, planner, that coveted office chair, and their preferred brand of writing utensils, among other things.

Another approach to quell the anxiety that can come with a new job is to select meaningful mementos or photos that reflect your unique personality. This infusion of personal touches can help establish a sense of familiarity within your new work environment.

Moreover, consider indulging in a bit of retail therapy before your first days on the job. Purchasing a couple of stylish outfits or acquiring essential items like a water bottle or travel mug can spark excitement and infuse positivity into your overall experience.

Find out: What to do When Boss Thinks You are Not Meeting Expectations

How Not To Get Overwhelmed At New Job

It’s crucial to prevent insecurities from taking control, as it’s quite common to feel small and intimidated in a new workplace. Here are some tips to consider when starting a new job:

You don’t necessarily have to know everything, except for the specialized skills you previously mentioned having.

Furthermore, different companies may have unique methods for accomplishing tasks you’ve handled before. Even the most talented individuals can temporarily feel inadequate.

What should you do if you’re tasked with something unfamiliar?

In your best interest, it’s important not to pretend everything is fine and attempt to conceal your lack of knowledge. Simply hoping for the best won’t improve the situation.

You should consistently ensure that you communicate your needs as soon as possible, as doing so demonstrates a wise approach for both you and your employer.

Note that: If things do not work out with your new job and you feel it’s time to move on, tailor new resumes for new job applications using the service of our certified resume writers.

Still Overwhelmed At New Job No Matter How Hard I Try?

Key warning signs arise when your employer reserves no room for ramp-up time or for asking questions that are clearly meant to help you perform your job better.

If they make you feel inadequate at this early stage, chances are they typically operate in this manner. In other cases, it might just not be the right job for you.

Don’t be too hard on yourself; you bear no fault in this!

So, whether it’s a mismatched skill set or an incompatible boss, it’s time to consider giving your resume a thorough overhaul.

Once you realize that you’re genuinely giving your best effort but still being overwhelmed and made to feel incompetent, it’s time to cut your losses and seek a new job that aligns with your work ethic and is a better fit.

There’s no shame in taking this step, and remember that leaving a toxic job is a way of prioritizing your mental and physical health, which is more important than your regular paycheck.

Find out: Reasons Why It’s OK to Quit Your Job

Wrap Up

Typically, you’ll notice that as your days fall into a familiar pattern, the initial feeling of being overwhelmed at a new job naturally subsides.

However, if this sense of overwhelm persists even after you’ve established your routine, a therapist can provide further guidance on potential triggers and recommend effective coping strategies.

It’s important to note that these tips are designed to help you overcome the initial challenges that many people face during the early days of a new work environment.

Always remember to believe in yourself, regardless of any doubts that may arise. Keep persevering, and don’t hesitate to seek additional assistance, even if you make a few mistakes initially.

Starting a new job provides an excellent opportunity to listen, remain open to learning, seek out allies, ask questions, and ultimately, deliver your very best performance.

Still in search of a new job? Discover how your resume might be underperforming with our free resume eBook.


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