First day work jitters? Here’s how you can conquer them

5 February 2024 dot 5-minute read
Healthy Mind Managing stress Living healthy
Preparation is essential for a great way to avoid first day work jitters. (Credit: Shutterstock)
The first day of work at a new job can be an exhilarating opportunity, teeming with promise and fresh beginnings. However, for many, it also comes with a familiar companion – those nervous butterflies in the stomach, the uneasy feeling of stepping into the unknown, and the overwhelming anticipation of making a positive impression. These are  commonly referred to as "first-day jitters” or “first day nerves.”
Recognising and managing these jitters are crucial in preparing for the first day of work. How you navigate these initial moments can set the tone for your entire journey with the company. 
The following practical tips and strategies will help you step into your new role with confidence and composure. 

1. Thorough preparation: Laying the groundwork for success

Preparing for the first day of work can alleviate those initial nerves and establish the foundation for a confident start.
Here's how: 

  • Company research: Take the time to delve into your new employer's world. Understand the company's history, its mission, and its values. Familiarise yourself with recent news and developments within the organisation. This knowledge not only demonstrates your enthusiasm but also helps you align seamlessly with the company culture.
  • Understanding your role: Having a clear understanding of your job responsibilities is also vital. You should know what is expected of you. Reach out to your future manager or HR contact if you require clarification on any aspect of your role.
  • Gather necessary materials: Don't leave anything to chance. Ensure you have all the necessary materials and documents ready. Whether it's identification, certifications, or specific work-related items, having them organised in advance will save you the stress of scrambling last-minute.
  • Create a checklist: To guarantee that nothing is overlooked, consider creating a first day of work checklist. List the items you need to bring, tasks to complete, and important contact details. A checklist can serve as a handy reference, helping you stay organised and ensuring that you're prepared.
Being well-prepared instils confidence in yourself. Knowing that you've done your homework and are ready to tackle your new role can go a long way in alleviating first day anxiety. So, take the time to prepare thoroughly, and you'll find yourself stepping into your new workplace with assurance and poise.

2. Meditate on positive outcomes: Harnessing the power of positivity

This practice, rooted in the power of positive thinking and visualisation, can make a significant difference in how you approach your first day. According to an article “Understanding the Power of Meditation”, Bin He, a neuralengineer at Carnegie Mellon University, said “It seems the longer you do meditation, the better your brain will be at self-regulation. You do not have to consume as much energy at rest and you can more easily get yourself into a more relaxed state.”  

  • Positive thinking and visualisation: Consider the impact of envisioning a successful first day of work.
  • Boosting confidence: By repeatedly picturing a prosperous beginning, you cultivate a mindset that anticipates success rather than failure. This shift in perspective can enhance your self-assuredness, making it easier to face the unknown.
  • Techniques for visualisation: Consider techniques such as guided imagery to enhance your visualisation practice. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine yourself excelling in your new role. Pair this with positive affirmations, reinforcing your belief in your abilities and readiness for the challenges ahead.
Practising these visualisation methods is a great mental exercise that can empower you to stride into your new workplace with a sense of optimism and self-assuredness, ultimately contributing to a successful debut.
Having sufficient sleep can help you function better the next day. (Credit: Pexel)

3. Ensure a restful night's sleep: A vital component for success

Adequate, restorative sleep is vital in managing stress and anxiety, particularly on the eve of your first day at work. Here's why it's crucial and how you can ensure it:

  • Stress and anxiety management: Quality sleep is a potent antidote to stress and anxiety. During deep sleep phases, your body regenerates, and your mind processes and consolidates information. This downtime is essential for emotional well-being and resilience.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine: Creating a calming bedtime ritual can signal to your body that it's time to wind down. Consider activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practising gentle relaxation exercises to prepare your mind and body for rest.
  • Avoid caffeine and electronic devices: The night before your first day, steer clear of caffeine and electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. According to, caffeine affects the brain by blocking adenosine receptors (a sleep-promoting chemical produced in the brain during waking hours). The more it builds up, the sleepier you become. When caffeine blocks this process, you remain alert and vigilant. Meanwhile, the blue light emitted by screens can interfere with your body's production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep.
  • The benefits of waking refreshed: Waking up on the morning of your first day feeling refreshed and alert can make all the difference in your ability to handle any challenges that may arise. A well-rested mind is better equipped to manage stress and make sound decisions.
Prioritising a good night's sleep necessary when dealing with first-day nerves. It's a foundational step in ensuring that you start your new role with a clear mind and a well-rested body, ready to face whatever comes your way.

“The foundation of my good sleep is the same as what I teach others. First, define what type of sleeper you are. Second, know your targets for quantifying good sleep. Third, establish good sleep hygiene habits. Lastly, measure your sleep using the best available tools”
Tony Estrella

4. Plan to arrive early: Punctuality sets the tone

Here's why it's imperative and how you can ensure a smooth arrival:

  • Crucial punctuality: Punctuality shows that you value your new role and respect your colleagues' time. It demonstrates your dedication and readiness to dive into your responsibilities. A late start can create unnecessary stress and leave a negative impression.
  • Route planning and transportation: Plan your route and transportation options in advance to ensure a timely arrival. Consider factors like traffic, public transport schedules, and parking availability. A dry run or using navigation apps can help you anticipate potential hiccups.
  • Arrive 15-30 minutes early: Aim to arrive at least 15-30 minutes ahead of your scheduled start time. This buffer allows you to account for any unexpected delays, ensuring that you reach your workplace composed and ready to begin without haste.
  • Calm and composed arrival: A calm arrival sets a positive tone for your day. Rushing in at the last minute can leave you flustered and anxious. Conversely, an early arrival allows you to gather your thoughts, settle in, and make a confident entrance.

5. Be kind to yourself: Nurturing well-being during the transition

Remember that first day nerves are perfectly normal. Here's how you can extend kindness to yourself during this pivotal time:

  • Embrace self-compassion: Be gentle with yourself and recognise your feelings are a common response to change. This can alleviate self-imposed pressure.
  • Value breaks and relaxation techniques: Throughout your first day, remember the importance of taking short breaks to decompress and recharge. Taking a brief walk can help you manage anxiety and stay centred.
  • Self-soothing strategies: In moments of heightened anxiety or self-doubt, use self-soothing strategies. Deep, mindful breathing can calm your nerves. Repeating positive affirmations or grounding exercises can also help you regain composure.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to work stress. It’s how we choose to handle work stress. One thing to consider is how much we are in control of.”
Dr Anabelle Chow

In conclusion, conquering those first-day nerves is possible. You're encouraged to put these tips into action: prepare thoroughly, maintain a positive mindset, prioritise quality sleep, arrive punctually, and be kind to yourself. By doing so, you'll bolster your confidence and ease anxiety. Embrace this opportunity with self-assuredness, knowing that conquering those initial nerves is well within your grasp. 
Sukel, K. (n.d.). Understanding the power of meditation.  Sukel, K. (n.d.). Understanding the power of meditation. [online] 
Pacheco, D., & Pacheco, D. (2023). Caffeine and sleep.   Sleep Foundation. [online] 
Pacheco, D., & Pacheco, D. (2023b).Caffeine and sleep. Bedtime routines for adults.  Sleep Foundation. [online] 

This is general information only and is not intended as financial, medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a financial adviser, or medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances.