Dealing With The Anxiety of a New Environment

Jenny Mulhern
December 13, 2022

Overview: We all feel stress and anxiety in certain new environments? How can you get over this fear and anxiety?

Time to read: 2 minutes

We have all been in the situation where we are really wanting to try something new – like learning a new skill, trying a new class, or joining a gym. Although you are desperate to jump in and get started, there is something holding you back. You always find some way to avoid it, making excuses for why you can’t go – not having enough time, not having the energy, having too much to do at home/work, or that you can’t justify the price. So you never end up going, and you never end up taking that first step to starting something new. 

What could be the real reason for you never feeling able to take that step?

You know you want to try this new thing, but carrying it out and actually putting yourself in the position to do it seems to be an issue. Sometimes, going into an environment that is completely foreign and new to us can be really daunting, and can sometimes be the thing that is holding you back. Stepping into a new environment can fill us with anxiety and fear. You have to put yourself in a vulnerable position, a position where you know the least in the room, a position where you may feel judged, and like you don’t fit in, and that can be really tough to do. A gym is an environment where many people can feel this before stepping into one for the first time. It can seem very intense, and for some, physical fitness is quite a personal thing to them, so going into an environment where you don’t know the lay of the land, and don’t know what to expect, or who will be their people and if they are going to judge you can be really hard.

How do you deal with this?

How can you get over the fear and anxiety of stepping into that new environment? The reality is, that what you worry about the most, probably won’t happen. In most cases, you will be welcomed and meet some lovely people. But that doesn’t stop your mind worrying beforehand. If this is something you feel stops you from trying something new, try and reduce the stress you feel.

  • Visit the place first: before you are due to be there, inspect the environment. This will remove the uncertainty of what the layout is/how it looks. Just checking the place out to get a feel for it can help you feel more comfortable the next time you go in.
  • Encourage a friend to start with you: this will mean that you have some company and someone to hold you accountable to going, who may even be feeling a similar way to you.
  • Remember people are focused on themselves: If you are worried about not knowing what you are doing, and that people will judge you, then try to remember that everyone there has been in the position that you are in yourself now, and some of them may still feel unsure of what they are doing themselves.
  • Have an escape plan: try is imagining the absolute worst case scenario of what could happen, and then think of how you will deal with it if it does happen, give yourself an escape plan. This can help to ease the pressure you may be putting on yourself.

There will be many things you can do to relieve that stress even a little before you go, then hopefully once you do actually go, you will enjoy it, and wonder why you were ever worried in the first place.


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