Property Management, Stress, & Happiness

Written by Kal Mokhtarzada

I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that we invest time catering some of our content to Property Managers. And for good reason; we want to provide value to some of our best customers. This past month we came across a blog post written by Sylvia “Elsie” Foster, a former Property Manager. The name of the post: Dear Linda. The subject: A farewell letter to a good friend who committed suicide.

“We are both Property Managers in the same little town. We have somehow always been able to talk through the bad times and even laugh at the absurdities this profession has thrown at us through the years…

.. But times have changed”

Dear Linda

To write, or not to write


“We do our best to bring you interesting and thought provoking content, conscious about keeping the tone uplifting. There was a discussion between the creative team and I as to the appropriateness of this article and our brand. At the end, we all agreed that we shouldn’t shy from the topic, and say it as it is. So here it is.”
– Mark

Most jobs are stressful, especially property management.

A quick Google search on the subject of stress and property management yields a plethora of people asking for advice.

“In the past month I have cried at least 6 times and have become mean. It feels like there is never any time the day or week to get everything done.”

“Property managers have a very difficult job,”
Dr. Jonathan Kramer

“But times have changed. People do not just disagree with us. Gone are the days when we could discuss the problem and work out a resolution. Tenants swear, spit and scream at us now. Owners do not appreciate us anymore.”
Dear Linda

One Property Manager confessed to Heather Blume, a PM Recruiter, that the job was “eating her soul.”

The good (great) news

Not so good

Starting with the bad news, or rather, how Eckhart Tolle would prefer to phrase it, the neutral situation. Regardless if you’re in property management or in any other profession, our day to day jobs seem more stressful than ever before. The complexity of our duties has increased, and the ancient promise that computers would save us from work and give us more time has resulted in the opposite. We’re now expected to do more than ever.

In 1970, Futurist Alvin Toffler coined the term information overload. It’s no wonder why our minds are more fragmented and filled with noise than any other time in history. This noise, this busyness, creates stress and decreases happiness.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”
– Eckhart Tolle

The great news

The advancement of technology is continuously bringing us closer to fully understanding stress, and more importantly, what makes us happy. Between philosophers and neuroscientists, the advance of brain scanning technology, and coupled with our better understanding of biology, we are gaining more insight on the subject than ever before. The result: hundreds of articles, podcasts, videos, and research papers on what makes us happy, and how to stay happy longer.

We’re hoping this article will be the first of many on the subject. But for now, let’s dive into a few simple things you can do right now that will decrease your stress and bring you a little bit more joy to your day.

Our disclaimer: While some of us here may be passionate about the science of happiness, no-one on our team is a medical professional or neuroscientist.

Three things you can do RIGHT NOW.

Let’s first acknowledge an important factor of happiness: It’s in our brains. Regardless of what happens in our day and the effects of our interactions with people and environment, the processing happens in our brain. If you’re hungry, you may just get hangry. Tummy acids increase, and signals gets sent to… your brain of course!

Happiness Hack 01: WRITE

Sure – you write a ton already in your day. But the happiness gains and stress release comes from writing to and for yourself. Not for work. We’re talking about expressive and creative writing. Journaling, writing in a diary, or keeping a log of your thoughts and emotions. This simple action will yield tremendous benefits.

The British journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment reports that health outcomes include:
Fewer stress-related visits to the doctor
Improved immune system functioning
Reduced blood pressure Improved lung function
Improved liver function
Fewer days in hospital Improved mood/affect
Feeling of greater psychological well-being
Reduced depressive symptoms before examinations
Fewer post-traumatic intrusion and avoidance symptoms

You only need 5 minutes a day. Seriously. Check out the Five Minute Journal. It’s a beautiful and simple journal. A few of us at the office have been using and can tell you first hand that it has increased our happiness.


“The Five Minute Journal is one of the simplest ways that I have found to consistently ensure improving my well being and happiness. Both in terms of achievement and actual measurable, quantifiable results.”
– Tim Ferriss, NY Times Best Selling Author

Happiness Hack 02: BREATHE

So you think you’re breathing? Most likely not as well as you should. We’re all guilty of it. We slouch at our desks for hours on end. We take quick shallow breaths, never pausing and actually taking in deep meaningful breathes. One way to breathe better is to stop what you’re doing, pause, close your eyes, keep your mind on your breathing, and take full deep breaths. Just a minute of this type of breathing will significantly decrease stress. There’s a reason why breathing is a major component of both meditation and yoga. Try it now.

If you’re not convinced yet, Google search the following: the importance of breathing

Here’s a quick expert from

Proper vs. Improper Breathing

Breathing affects virtually every part of the body. It oxygenates the body, revitalizing organs, cells and tissues. Breathing properly:

  • Fuels energy production
  • Improves focus and concentration
  • Eliminates toxins
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Improves bowel function
  • Reduces stress, tension and anxiety
  • Increases feelings of calmness and relaxation
  • Can lower blood pressure
  • Increases metabolism, aiding in digestion and weight loss.
On the other hand, not breathing correctly can cause problems for a number of systems in the body, including the immune, circulatory, endocrine and nervous systems. Improper breathing can produce a variety of symptoms including:

  • Mental fog
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness
  • Anxiety
  • Chest pain
  • Digestive problems
  • Irritable bowel
  • Neck and shoulder pain

Need help breathing? Don’t want to go to a 10 day meditation retreat? Check out Spire: A wearable that sends your breathing data to your phone.

spire breathing

“Spire coaches you to a more calm, balanced state of mind. It tracks and improves your state of mind by allowing you to discover when you’re stressed, where it happens, and what you were doing.”

Happiness Hack 03: STOP, & TAKE A HIKE

Stop what you’re doing. Take a break. Go for a walk.

I can hear you saying, “I have an intense amount of work on my plate. I’m drowning in emails. I’m already behind. it’s a short week. And you’re asking me to go for a walk?!”

Yep. Most often than not, we overwork ourselves, with little to no breaks. Being a martyr or a hero is not the answer. In actuality, the answer to better work is often times stopping.

We have ample brain science describing and visually showing the brain on too much work. Some say it’s worse than your brain on drugs! Non-stop work reduces productivity, reduces accuracy in decision making, and increases overall stress that can lead to sick-days.


“Researchers found that an energetic stroll three times a week increased the size of the hippocampus, the brain’s memory hub, which is one of the first areas to be destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease.”
Daily Mail

Taking walks is not just about reducing stress. A short stroll can help inspiration and creativity strike. Some of the greatest minds have claimed this fact as one of their secrets to inspiration, including Darwin, Nietzsche, Dickens, Beethoven, and Steve Jobs. Moving past anecdotal and qualitative measurements, the science is solid.

“Walking increased creativity for 81% of participants, with participants increasing their creative output by an average of 60%.”
Stanford University

Stress is sometimes unavoidable

Not to conclude on a low-note, but stress and happiness is not mutually exclusive. The good news is that you can manage stress, and still be very happy. I’ve never met a person doing something worthwhile that doesn’t experience stress from time to time. It’s simply the nature of filling your day with goals, objectives, and responsibilities. The important takeaway is that there are ways to decrease stress, and thus, add a little bit more happiness to our lives.

Are there happiness hacks you are aware of? What do you do to keep yourself positive?