How to Avoid Your First Day of Work Anxiety (New Job Tips)

Nervous? Stressed? Feeling Lost?

Regardless where you are in your career, first day at a new job can make you feel a little anxious.

In fact, the feeling of “first day of work jitters” happens to everyone.

You are in an new environment and don’t know anyone apart from your hiring manager.

And, let’s face it, who isn’t scared of the unknown?

Feeling nervous is normal, but here are some tips for making your first day more enjoyable and less stressful, while also make a good first impression with your new coworkers:

Do you know what to dress for your first day at work? Come and find out yourself!

1. Know Your Job Scope

When you are too caught up with your first day jitters, it can be easy to lose focus of why you’re there.

Take a few minutes going through your job description for your new job. This is especially important for you if this is your first job.

By doing this, you will be able to go into your new job with a sense of purpose, and have a rough idea of what to expect as the weeks progress.

Sun Tzu, Art of War says,

“Know thy self, know thy enemy.”

Knowing what to expect will allow you to prepare better for your first day of work.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles - Sun Tze, Art of War

2. Remember You Won’t Be New Forever

New job, new skills, or even new school always makes us nervous. Everyone will feel jitters when we are experiencing something new. But remember: it will pass.

It is in our human nature that we feel scared at something we’ve never experience before. It’s also our ability to adapt that allows us to survive for millions of years since the stone age.

Being a new employee can be scary.

But understanding what to expect during your traditional or remote onboarding can help.

You’ve the ability to change the way you think.

According to an research article by Psychology Today,

“When you feel excitement, the hypothalamus triggers the same physiological reaction. There is very little physiological difference between fear and excitement.”

So, convert your anxiety to excitement and welcomes your first day of work with gee!

3. Prepare Your First Day of Work Outfit

Getting to know what to wear on your first day of work always help to make a good first impression.

If you are unsure of what to wear, just keep it conservative.

What each company allows you to wear to work is very different.

Some companies allow their employees to wear smart casual to work, while others requires you to wear formal.

In either case, avoid wearing anything that is too fancy, too tight, or too short.

Keep your attire conservative and if possible, check with HR on what’s the company’s dress code.

By doing so, you can prepare the appropriate attire for your first day of work.

4. Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep can cause anxiety and cause first day jitters. Getting enough sleep can help you show up fresh and alert at your first day of work.

Making a good first impression don’t need much effort. For a start, try not looking like a zombie on your first day will definitely help.

National Sleep Foundation recommends the following for a good night sleep.

Group Age Hours of Sleep
Newborn 0 – 3 Months 14 – 17 Hours
Infant 4 – 11 Months 12 – 15 Hours
Toddler 1 – 2 Years 11 – 14 Hours
Preschool 3 – 5 Years 10 – 13 Hours
School-age 6 – 13 Years 9 – 11 Hours
Teen 14 – 17 Years 8 – 10 Hours
Young Adult 18 – 25 Years 7 – 9 Hours
Adult 26 – 64 Years 7 – 9 Hours
Older Adult >65 Years 7 – 8 Hours

This guideline helps you to ensure a healthy sleep duration. Sleeping an hour more or less may not have much impact, but having enough sleep for your first day of work is always ideal.

5. Arriving to Work on Time

Getting to work late on your first day can be the worst way to make a first impression.

Sometimes traffic issues can happen which can lead to unexpected delay in your plan of reaching work on time.

You want to arrive at work calm, cool, and confident, not running 5 minutes late, sweaty and feeling lost.

First day is already stressed enough, you don’t want to add to the stress you are already feeling.

Instead, try map out your commute and take into consideration of any possible traffic issues.

Give yourself at least 30 minutes extra when planning your commute to work.

In fact, we’ve conducted an interview with 83 employers and see what they say about some of the worst mistakes people make on their first day of work.

The results aren’t surprising, but amount the top 10 mistakes to avoid, one of them stood out amount the rest.


“What employers says about getting to work late on the first day?”

First Day of Work Mistakes to Avoid - Late on First Day of Work

6. Practice Productivity Rituals

We probably had experienced with lots of different situations which can make us nervous. First day of school, first time talking to your crush, first time going for interview and finally, first day of work.

Everyone have their own rituals to calm themselves from feeling nervous.

Here’s a few simple rituals you can do to calm down fast.

  • Waking Up: Do morning stretches or yoga to relax your body and soul.
  • Hygiene: Take a hot shower will keep your mind refresh and body free of unpleasant odor.
  • Breakfast: Prepare your morning with a nice cup of earl grey to relax your mind and energize your body.
  • Mental Health: Listen to relaxing classical music on your way to work.
  • Stress Relive: Take some deep breaths before entering the door will help to increase the oxygen level in your blood and oxygenate your brain to prepare you for your first day.

7. Don’t Worry About Not Knowing Everything

You are having your first day of work, no one will expect that you’ll know everything. You’ve already passed the hardest test of going through your interview and have been rewarded with the job.

All you’ll need to do now is to keep a good level of confident. Be humble and learn quickly so that you may become an asset to the company.

“Your willingness to learn is much more important than being a know-it-all.” 

So, don’t be afraid to ask questions, because you’re expected to.

You may make some mistakes as you are new to the company. But remember, mistakes are all part of the learning process. 

Just make sure you take accounts for your actions.

Honesty is always the best policy.

8. Make Friends

Introduce yourself to your new colleagues and make friends. Although most companies have great onboarding process or orientation programs where it help you to know more people in the company, some companies don’t have such programs.

Don’t wait for your peers to come to you and introduce themselves. As a new member of the team, you can show your confidence by extending your hand of friendship and introduce yourself to the team.

A firm handshake, and warm genuine smile, using only your first name makes you appear more approachable and friendly.

Just keep your introduction as brief as possible.

“Hi, my name is Jane. This is my first day with the company. I am the new software engineer. It’s great to meet you!”

Making more friends will make you feel less like an outsider, but more of an insider. With friends around you, you will feel less stress and less nervous on your first day.

9. Being Yourself

Everyone have different personality, and trying to be someone else can be really stressful.

But “being yourself” doesn’t mean to be rude or self-centered. Being yourself is to be the real you, while being courteous and friendly.

People can smell ‘fakes’ miles away, but in contrast, authenticity attracts.

“You’ll be working closely with them and enjoy building the relationship, so why not start now?”

An article by World Economic Forum says,

“A truly authentic person, by Maslow’s theory, will be open to new experiences and be empathetic, non-judgmental, and non-hostile towards others.

On the other hand, overt hostility or aggression suggests that a person is not truly at peace with his or herself.”

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