Health and the Project Manager

When I had a burnout, one of the first signs that something was going wrong for me was that I started to get ill a lot more.

As Leaders, we often underestimate the power of our health and the impact that this has on our projects and team. During this blog, I wanted to highlight a few areas that might help you if you’re finding yourself struggling with your physical and mental health.

Being healthy means making choices and that choice may be to sleep, rest, take your time or do some exercise. One of the first signs that I see for burnout is related to sleeping. Either they cannot sleep enough or are sleeping all the time.

Make self care a priority

When I coach Junior Project Managers, I put this topic as one of the activities that we go through. We discuss what “Self care” looks like, how they can respect that when they’re busy/stressed and what to do to redress the balance if they find that they’re not doing it.

What does Self care mean in reality?

I have an internal checklist for myself to make sure that I’m being honest with myself so this could include:

  • Have I done exercise today /in the past 48hours?
  • Did I switch off my phone/ laptop at a reasonable hour?
  • How am I feeling? Good? Overwhelmed? Tired? Stressed?
  • How am I sleeping?
  • How am I eating? / Am I taking time to stop for meals?

This checklist helps guide me very rationally to say: I’m OK Vs. I’m struggling. Once I notice that something might be off balance, I focus to readdress the balance if I can immediately. If I can’t, then I look at managing my stress and putting a mini plan in place to get back on track. This could be: resting at the weekend, turning off my phone at a specific time every day.


I normally see burnout most significantly in mid experienced Project Managers who have between 3-7 years experience. It normally coincides with their first “major” project where they are within a fine line between “experienced” and “out of their depth”.

Struggling with mental health:

I strongly encourage everyone to focus on their mental health and look at where they are focusing their efforts /spending their time. Having a strong focus on your mental health is no longer consider a stigma/negative and I’m pleased to see so many companies having initiatives in place to support their employees with their own mental health. If you are struggling with your mental health, you could try a few of these suggestions:

  • Exercise
  • Talking to someone /talk to a friend
  • Taking time /meditation

More recently, I’ve been looking at my health as an indicator for some of the wider issues that I’ve been seeing in my life. Stress, poor diet, excessive exercise. They all impact my ability to be a great and effective leader. So, ultimately, it’s in my best interest to get myself in the best health possible to be the best leader, colleague, friend and mother that I can be.

Are you looking after your health? What does a healthy balance look like to you?

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