7 Ways for Project Managers to Handle Stress and Anxiety

30 Mar, 2023 | Read in 6 minutes

As a project manager, it's important to stay on top of stress and anxiety. Here are seven strategies for managing your project workload and staying organised.


As a project manager, managing stress and anxiety can feel like an uphill battle. Are you easily overwhelmed by some tasks, deadlines, and project demands? If so, you’re not alone.

Anxiety and stress can affect different people. It has various levels, but there is one thing for sure: there are ways to handle stress, even if it feels like everything is out of control.

One survey from Association for Project Management revealed that including 1,000 project practitioners, 76% of respondents reported their main project has caused them stress or is currently causing them stress.

A different study asked the same question and discovered that just 62% of respondents claimed their main project was causing them stress.

The survey also looked at workplace issues that contribute to stress. The following were the most common responses:

  • 32% of respondents have problems with the supply chain.
  • 31% of respondents didn’t have support from managers.
  • 29% of respondents work remotely.

These issues cause stress, so it’s important for project managers to handle their stress or even anxiety. By handling stress and anxiety, project managers can build a healthy lifestyle for themselves, which also can impact their project. But how?

Let’s take a closer look at the definition of stress and ways to handle it below.

What exactly is stress?

Stress is the condition when you feel discomfort, fear, worry, or anxiety when you perceive a threat, one article from Mind UK.

One article from Project Management Institute showed that the concept of "beauty being in the eye of the beholder" also applies to an individual's assessment of a stressful event or scenario.

When danger is perceived (defined broadly here as any individual or repetitive event in one's project management job that bears the tone of personal risk, criticism, or threat), changes in physiology, cognition, and behaviour occur.

7 Ways to Handle Stress and Anxiety

Managing stress and anxiety is important for your well-being as a project manager. Here are some effective ways to manage stress and anxiety in project management:

1. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness can help you stay focused and calm, even in the face of stress and anxiety. Try involving mindfulness practices in your daily routine, such as deep breathing, pilates, or yoga.

Researchers suggest that mindfulness has the benefit of reducing the body's stress response, American Psychological Association (APA) explained in one of its articles.

Chronic stress can decrease the immune system's strength and increase a wide range of other health issues. The body may experience downstream benefits of mindfulness by reducing the stress response.

In psychological research, mindfulness affects two different stress pathways in the brain, changing the structure and activity of areas of the brain related to attention and emotion regulation.

2. Prioritise and delegate the tasks

Most project managers are feeling overwhelmed by the workload. By taking a step back and assessing which tasks are most important and urgent, you can delegate lower-priority tasks to other team members.

Create a list of the things you need to do, then prioritise them. Do the most important tasks first. Get things done as soon as possible if they are extremely stressful. The rest of your day will be more enjoyable as a reward.

Prioritising and delegating the task can promote teamwork and trust among team members. You need to recognise your limits and not take on more than they can handle.

3. Communicate and collaborate

When you’re feeling stressed and anxious, it’s more likely to act impatiently. Your communication skills may suffer as a result of this. Experiencing intense emotions may find it difficult to express yourself appropriately or with good word choice.

One way to avoid stress and anxiety is open communication. Instead of waiting until you burn out, let your team, coworkers, or family know when something frustrates you.

Likewise, you should be willing to listen when your coworkers express their feelings. Let them explain their feelings without interrupting them. Open communication and collaboration with your team can help reduce stress and anxiety. Regular check-ins, status updates, and active listening can all contribute.

4. Self-care

Taking care of yourself is essential for managing stress and anxiety as a project manager. Make sure you're getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in activities outside of work that bring you joy.

In the United States, anxiety disorders are the most prevalent kind of mental disease, impacting 40 million Americans annually. Until now, only 36.9% of those who suffer from anxiety disorders get therapy.

What's the good news? There are self-care techniques you can do every day to manage anxiety and stress symptoms in addition to getting expert help. For example, you can do exercise, and read self-help books using Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) theory.

5. Set realistic goals

Sometimes the amount of work you have to perform seems to be much more demanding than it is. You can clearly see what has to be done in the time you have left by defining a SMART goal.

The SMART framework helps set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. The deadline already meets the time-bound requirement, and your measurable criteria are simply whether or not the task is completed within that time frame. You just need to fill out the other three fields to establish a SMART goal.

Looking at the work you have left might help you figure out the specific details of your SMART goal. This is also the stage at which you may determine whether the amount of work is achievable within the timeframe. A prioritising framework can help you determine how long the remaining activities will take and how realistic they are.

6. Emotional intelligence

Being aware of your emotions and those of your team members can help you communicate more effectively. It also helps you to resolve conflicts and build trust. Improving your emotional intelligence can help you to become a better leader.

People with greater levels of emotional intelligence are more robust, and so less likely to burn out or suffer despair. Resilience should not be confused with a lack of empathy or feeling, according to Research by Positive Psychology.

Developing self-regulation and self-management skills does not guarantee that you will not feel rage or other tough emotions. That implies you don't let your actions be dictated by your emotions.

7. Effective team management

Effective team management is not only crucial for the success of a project or organisation, but it can also help project managers to handle stress and anxiety.

The role of a project manager can be stressful, and the pressure to deliver results can lead to burnout and other mental health issues. But, with effective team management, you can build a positive team environment that supports your mental well-being.

Effective team management also involves providing support to team members. You can encourage your team members to share your concerns and provide support where necessary.

To Sum Up

Managing stress and anxiety is an important task to master as a project manager. It is essential to have a good understanding of your stressors, triggers, and coping strategies.

Through the implementation of strategies such as developing healthy habits and strong relationships with team members, you can reduce your stress and anxiety while maintaining successful projects.

Ready to grow your business with VirtualSpace?

One platform to manage and organise your teams, tasks, projects, and more.


Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated

We'll keep you posted with everything going on in the modern working world.