Dealing with stress is not a game, however, we can use the popular Two Truths and a Lie to illustrate some important information about stress management and how to find the benefits and the resources needed in times when we feel alone and overwhelmed.
Stress is Universal – True
Stress is often described as feeling overwhelmed by the condition(s) outside of one’s control. This involuntary emotional response resembles fear and may even be a manifestation of the fear of failure in not living up to an expectation (either from an external or internal source). The fear of the unknown or of a worst-case-scenario falls under the same umbrella.
Everyone wants to be accepted, experience successes, be seen as capable, and find a sense of belonging. These universal feelings and knowing that stress and fear come to us all is a reminder that you are not alone. Deciding to deal with the stress in your life and face these fears is brave.
Bravery is in the Facing not the Absence of Fears
We Need Some Stressors – True
Stress carries both positive and negative roles in our lives. It is a truth that we all need some stressors to keep us alert, awake, motivated, and productive.
Stress in and of itself is not the enemy. It is in the management of stress that we see growth throughout many aspects of our lives. We grow the muscles of our character such as resilience, creativity, sticktoitiveness, resourcefulness, and efficiencies. We also learn empathy for ourselves and others when we can grasp kindness and patience in our limitations.
When we put our bodies under the stress of a physical workout, we are overwhelming our muscles to produce larger, leaner, or better functioning muscles; including the heart.
Those that work out often give their bodies just the push it needs to stretch the limit of endurance and then provide it the nutrition and rest it needs to recover. This analogy is the key to stress management.
It is in the management of stress that we see growth throughout many aspects of our lives.
Stress is Uncontrollable – Lie
The truth, which can bring some hope, is that stress will come and go but we have some control over how often and how intensely. And, on rare occasions, if it comes strong and suddenly, we have the ability to make choices on how to perceive it and how to proceed.
Under stress, the sympathetic nervous system causes one of four reactions: fight, flight, freeze, or flop (also known as ‘faun’). Understanding each gives us a leg up on being able to use this information to our advantage.
We often hear about the ‘fight – or – flight’ response, the urge to face fear, or run. Fight can be a useful tool but oftentimes an overreaction for the situation at hand. Running, on the other hand, may save you from the danger of falling rocks, but isn’t very productive when attempting to manage your rental business. Flight looks a lot like doing busy work and procrastination.
Freezing is another reaction to stress, and decisions and starting tasks become intensely difficult being unable to move forward or backward mentally or even physically. If you struggle to make phone calls or can’t seem to force yourself to start an important project or task, you might be in freeze mode.
Faun, also known as flop, is the reaction to go along with whatever is presented whether to our benefit or not. Laying down submissive while the bear is roaring over you; you’ve given in to the fear and find yourself only doing what is minimally required to get past the situation.
In the four responses above, the sympathetic nervous system is reactivating involuntarily to the overwhelming emotions of internal and external stimuli. It is possible to move from an involuntary reaction to one of choice but it will require a change of perspective and a change of state.
A Change of Perspective to Regain Control
Imagine a dark room, you’re a small child and you see a huge frightening monster on the wall. It feels real, looks real, and is frightening. Heart rate increases, palms get sweaty, and we might cry out, freeze, or hide.
But as we know, that childlike perspective doesn’t see that it’s just a small object being backlit that casts the harmless shadow. That child feels hopeless, frightened, and without choice.
Perspective is everything in life; from being a good communicator to handling life’s adventures. How we perceive the situation makes all the difference. Sometimes the best help in times of stress is to take time to change perspective.
Be the one holding the flashlight to illuminate and observe what is causing the stress. It is possible to change perspective and investigate the actual size compared to what seems to be looming larger than life. You can also determine from a new perspective how much power to give a stressor.
Feelings are neither wrong or right, big or small — they just are. They exist to serve a purpose.
If it isn’t serving your best purpose at that moment, change your state.
A Change of State for Stress Management
In the working world, being overwhelmed (and therefore stressed) can stem from taking on too many tasks, too much responsibility, or setting expectations too high. It can be self-imposed or assigned to us. It’s the change of circumstances and internal and external pressures that have modified what you thought to be manageable but has become more difficult to maintain.
Those fight, flight, freeze, flop responses are all physiological states. Fear and excitement are the same physiologically; so is feeling stressed versus feeling challenged. The difference is the road map. Just as traveling requires some mode of transportation, fuel, and time, so do our physiological states.
Changing your state of mind and emotion requires you to change your priorities and a determination that you are the driver and not external stimuli.
But just as important as a change in thinking, it is also helpful to immediately make a change physically. Stand up, get a drink, wash your face, put on some music, or any movement will be a healthy and constructive way to deal with stress.
There are many simple ideas to help with stress management. Just the act of purposefully moving can lend to changing your mental and physical state to break those flight, fight, freeze reactions.
Landlord Resources for Handling Stress
Outside of normal pressures of juggling the many hats of property management, a landlord might also be working from home, dealing with economic pressures, concerned over health and safety, all the while trying to manage a rental portfolio.
Specifically and practically, one of the largest resources a landlord has to help with stress is to remember property management is all about managing.
Put the Manage Back into Property Management
You’d think property management would inherently be managed and not needing mention. However, it’s very easy to be pulled in every direction by people, processes, and the unexpected that it can often feel like you’re caught in a tornado swirling in unknown directions waiting for a crash landing. Or maybe a better analogy is the feeling like your a puppet on a string.
Empower yourself to put the ‘manage’ back into property management by taking time to decide on processes and procedures for routine and emergency situations. Decide that going forward, you set the standard and tone for your rental business. Although much is out of our control, we can decide our processes and reactions.
Reactive management puts stress at the controls. Not only will proactive management help mitigate and navigate through stressors, choosing to operate proactively puts the ‘manage’ back into property management.
To Simplify isn’t Simple but it’s a Great Way to Manage Stress
Easier said than done! It might take some time and thought to figure out what tasks to eliminate, delegate, and/or automate. Here are some suggestions to help you simplify your rental business:
- Invest in a full-featured property management software! Whether you manage one property or hundreds, a full-featured property management software can take on many tasks you might be trying to handle on your own. It’s like having a full team available at your fingertips.
- Stop accepting and handling cash, checks, and money orders. How much of your time are you spending to collect, process, and physically deposit rents? Transition your tenants to pay online by ACH, credit card, or pay at cash network locations. You can convert to 100% automated rent payments which would auto-post to your property management software ledgers and arrive in your bank account without any intervention on your part.
- Evaluate your processes and procedures. If you don’t have procedures in place to automate certain tasks, you may find yourself being pulled in every direction. For instance, having tenant portals in place could help you automate maintenance requests which would cut down the number of phone calls to your office and would streamline work order processing.
These are troubled and uncertain times to be sure. Everyone is feeling the pressures and difficulties of these world events. You are not alone! Take a step back for perspective, give yourself a needed break, put on some relaxing music, breathe, and simplify.
Remember, you have survived 100% of all the past stress in your life
and you can get through these uncertain times as well.