Every successful project leader faces pressure and stress when attempting to deliver projects on target, on time and on budget.
Use these five specific strategies to help yourself deal with pressure and stress in the short term.
1. Be your own supporter: Be a friend to yourself rather than beat yourself up!
YOU have to be on YOUR own side to be a successful project leader. No one knows YOU better than YOU know YOU. Accept YOUR strengths, limitations, and project challenges.
2. Acknowledge your concerns by writing them down: Consider using a personal journal. Develop an action plan to reduce the problem. Make a list of all the good things you have.
You may not know what is causing your stress, exactly how your body responds to stress, or how you cope with stress. To find out, www.webMD.com suggests you use a journal to keep track of each time you feel stressed.
- What may have triggered the stress. Guess if you aren’t sure.
- How you felt and behaved in response to the stressful situation (symptoms of stress).
- What, if anything, you did to cope with the stressful situation.
Look over your notes to learn how often you are feeling stressed and how you are coping. Ask yourself which ways of coping with stress work best and which don’t work or have other effects you do not like.
The more notes you take, the more you can learn about your stress patterns. Keeping the journal for 1 to 2 weeks is best, although taking notes for even 1 or 2 days can be helpful.
3. Release your emotions: Disperse aggression that can result in stress. Counter anxiety with laughter.
- Music. Write a song about what is bothering you. Music has the power to move you deeply and has the power to heal.
- Confide in someone. If you feel you can’t talk to the people in your “Friends & Family,” look somewhere else. Be honest with yourself.
- Talk to pets or nature. If you’re uncomfortable talking to people, try an animal or nature.
4. Distract yourself: Occupy yourself with useful activity. Focus on a time past your current problems.
Here are some suggested thoughts and involvements to consider from Stress Management for Dummies:
- Recall something in your life you’re grateful for
- Remember something good that happened to you
- Think of something you’re looking forward to
- Go to the gym
- Read a book, newspaper, or magazine
- Watch some television
- Go to a movie
- Talk to a friend
- Work or play on your computer
- Play a sport
- Immerse yourself in some project or hobby
- Listen to some favorite music
- Work in the garden
5. Set aside ‘worry time’: Cut down on worry by limiting the time you give to it. Challenge your worries – what good are they doing?
When people with adjustment disorders, burnout or severe work problems used techniques to confine their worrying a single, scheduled 30- minute period each day, they were better able to cope with their problems, a new study by researchers in the Netherlands finds.
The study made use of a technique, called “stimulus control,” that researchers have studied for almost 30 years. By compartmentalizing worry — setting aside a specific half-hour period each day to think about worries and consider solutions, and also deliberately avoiding thinking about those issues the rest of the day — people can ultimately help reduce those worries, research has shown.
“When we’re engaged in worry, it doesn’t really help us for someone to tell us to stop worrying,” said Tom Borkovec, a professor emeritus of psychology at Penn State University. “If you tell someone to postpone it for a while, we are able to actually do that.”
The new study was published in the July issue of the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.
It’s important that you build self-awareness of how to respond to pressure and stressors in your life. Giving your best performance in all areas of your life is what being an excellent project leader is about.
To help you cope with pressure and stress, please take 10 – 15 minutes to reflect on and respond to the following questions:
- What are the current stressors in your life?
- What other stressors might you have to face in the near future?
- What are the current stressors that affect you personally on your project?
- What impact does workplace stress have on your working environment and your personal life?
- How well do you deal with pressure?
For more on how to handle pressure and reduce your stress, have a look at Learning Tree, Intl. Course #297: Personal Skills for Professional Excellence.
James L. Haner