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Top Ways Project Managers Can Manage Their Own Stress

The ability to handle stress is one of the most valuable project management tools.

Project management is all about keeping things ordered and under control. But in the modern world, project managers must deal with more variables than ever before. The proliferation of virtual teams, the impact of cross-cultural influences, the creation of new economic models, the permeability of the barriers that divide companies, and the variability of stakeholder participation combine with time-urgency to create plenty of new stresses.*

As anyone with project management certification will tell you, being able to manage stress can be a key project management tool. In fact, it can be what separates success from failure. If you’re already in project management—or are thinking about getting Project Management Institute (PMI)® certification and starting a project management career—here are some ways you can manage your stress.

Top Ways Project Managers Can Manage Their Own Stress


When a stressful situation arises at work, it can seem like the fate of the world is at stake. But seeing these situations as potentially catastrophic can cause you to panic or freeze up. Plus, if you act like there’s a catastrophe, you’ll have trouble getting those you’re managing to remain calm and focused. When a serious problem presents itself, take a moment to breathe and see the problem from the proper perspective. By keeping your cool, you can better focus on solving the problem.

Exercise and Sleep

You can tell from the way stress increases your heart rate and causes muscle tension that stress has a strong physical component. It also has good physical remedies. For instance, studies have shown that just about any form of exercise—from a slow walk to yoga to running a marathon—can raise your endorphins and decrease your overall feelings of stress. Additionally, getting more sleep can be a big help. Most American adults only get 6.7 hours of sleep a night, but our bodies require at least 7 to 9 hours to fully recharge. Instead of staying up working or worrying, you should consider getting to bed earlier. Along with regular exercise, it can keep your stress level lower.


Obsessing about your job is not good for your stress level or your performance at work. In any busy job, there will be days you must put in long hours, but make sure you’re carving out time to spend away from work. On a daily basis, take your lunch outside the office or spend lunch in a break room, reading the paper or chatting with colleagues about non-work-related topics. On a monthly and yearly basis, use your vacation time to recharge. Remembering to escape can help keep you balanced.

Focus on Positive Stress

Not everything that comes with stress is bad. Stress at a moderate level can be energizing, increasing your attention to and interest in a task.§ When a stressful situation arises, focus the energy that comes with stress on staying motivated and working hard. In this way, you can use stress to help achieve a positive outcome.

Stay in the Moment

For project managers, the number one task in an urgent situation is to get everything under control. Nevertheless, when problems arise, you may feel the urge to analyze what went wrong and who’s to blame. You should resist that urge. Trying to answer the “why” of a problem in the middle of trying to solve the problem will only add to your stress level. Instead, stay in the moment and focus your energy on finding a resolution. Once the problem is solved, you can worry about why it occurred.

How Can You Learn More and Earn Your Project Management Certification?

In our increasingly complex world, organizations of all types need project managers who can keep things moving smoothly. If you want to become a project manager—or are looking to advance your career in project management and/or raise your project management salary—one of the best choices you can make is to earn an MS in Project Management.

This advanced business degree can give you the knowledge you need to excel in project management, plus it can help you prepare for project management certification from the Project Management Institute. Best of all, you can earn your master’s in project management through an online degree program.

Why is earning your project management master’s degree online such a good thing? Because online learning gives you exceptional conveniences. An online university lets you complete your degree program from anywhere you have internet access. Additionally, online education lets you take advantage of flexible scheduling, meaning you can attend to coursework at the time of day that works best for you. This can be particularly beneficial if you want to earn your master’s degree while working full time.

If you’re not quite ready for a master’s degree or if you’re interested in competency-based education, you might wish to explore a Graduate Certificate in Applied Project Management. Offered through Walden University’s Tempo Learning® program, you can put your real-life experience to work, demonstrating what you already know. In the future, should you choose to earn a competency-based Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in Project Management, the competencies you completed while earning your graduate certificate may be applied toward your MBA.

Through a master’s in project management online program, you can gain the skills you need to earn PMI certification and to learn to harness stress as an energy to bolster achievement.

It’s a great way to put yourself on a path to success.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Project Management degree online as well as a competency-based Graduate Certificate in Applied Project Management. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

*S. Flannes, Tangible Tips for Handling the Endless Stress in Project Management, paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2010, on the internet at

†Mayo Clinic, Exercise and Stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress, on the internet at

‡American Psychological Association, Stress and Sleep, on the internet at

§Psychestudy, Yerkes–Dodson Law, on the internet at

Walden University’s MS in Project Management program is accredited by the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (GAC). PMI GAC is the world’s leading specialized accrediting body for project management education and related degree programs, affirming that Walden’s curriculum meets rigorous quality standards established by GAC.

PMI is a registered trademark and service mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,