5 simple ways to Combat Workplace Stress as a Project Manager

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Posted on Friday, 16th March, 2018 - 11:17

As we all know, being a Project Manager isn’t a 9-5, Monday to Friday job. There will be times you’re checking your emails on the weekends, and sending your teams reminders in the evenings. As much as you work to reduce the scope creep of your projects, how aware of work creep are you? And is your work/life balance taking a hit for it?


There have been many studies that show how much stress can be good for us. The one that shows up the most is the Yerkes Dodson Law. This proves that with the right amount of stress you can be work at peak performance, but sustain that for too long, and your work starts to suffer.

The Yerkes Dodson Inverted U Model of Stress


So how can you de-stress during the day to help keep you at your optimum working conditions?


1. Take a Walk

A group of colleagues taking a walk during their lunch break


Let’s start simple, shall we? So, you can feel the stress starting to creep in mid-morning and you haven’t moved from your desk because you’ve been battling your way through your many emails with no end in sight. Go and take a walk at lunch, and make sure your phone is switched off. Even if you have nowhere to go, taking a walk around the block has been proven to increase memory and attention span by 20%


2. Meditate

Female office worker meditating at her desk to reduce stress

Taking a few minutes each day to follow a short, guided meditation can work wonders. Don’t worry, when we say meditation, we don’t me pop down to your local Zen Centre during your lunch. But apps such as Head Space will lead you through quick 5-10 minute meditations which you can do whenever you can start feeling overwhelmed. All you need to take part in these is a chair and a quiet space.


3. Learn to Say No

Female Manager crossing arms to signal no

If you have too much on your to-do list, learn to say no to things. Try not to feel bad about saying no, just explain that you currently have far too much on, and try to delegate the task if possible.


4. Sort out your Sleep

Female Manager asleep at her desk

Do you find yourself coming into the office in the morning and heading straight for the coffee pot to help give you the kick-start you need? It may be worth taking a step back and reviewing your sleep habits.


Start by giving yourself a time limit for caffeinated drinks. Because caffeine can stay in your system for up to 6 hours, the usual rule is no caffeine after 3pm.


It is also helpful to keep a notepad and pen next to your bed – this way, if you think of anything during the night you can quickly jot it down, and you won’t be worrying about whether you’ll remember it in the morning.


5. Take some annual leave

Booking Annual Leave

If you have tried all of the above, book off some annual leave, but make sure you write detailed handover notes before you do. You don’t need to spend this time off going abroad on holiday. It could be something small like a staycation, or a duvet day binge-watching that Netflix series you’ve been meaning to catch up on. There is nothing wrong at all about taking some time out for yourself to recharge and get back on your feet.


If you have tried all of the above and still cannot seem to get out from under the mountain of stress, it is best to speak to either your manager of your HR department, to see if you can make some changes to your work schedule, or how you work


However, if you are your own manager, or don’t want to speak with HR, it is best to seek medical help. Your GP will be able to advise you of groups or other alternatives to make your stress more manageable. As stress is now documented at the source of 40% of workplace illness with over 11million days a year being lost due to this epidemic.