How to Lower Stress During Tax Season

Gina Deveney
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Tax season is stressful enough for taxpayers, but if you're the one sitting behind a desk figuring out answers to everyone else's tax problems, you're bound to feel even more stressed. Most of the stressors of the season boil down to working brutal hours with little time to focus on anything other than servicing your clients. As a tax preparer or accountant, you do the bulk of your business from the first day of January until the deadline for filers to have their taxes in each year—April 15. The influx of seasonal clients is quite stressful, even if the tax issues your clients are facing aren't that complex. The key for keeping your head in the game without succumbing to the pressure is to incorporate stress-relieving strategies into your day.

One of the best ways to lower stress during the busiest time of your year is to prioritize your time. Most accountants work long hours during tax season, which leaves little time for activities that are normally used as outlets for stress—such as spending time with family or taking long walks in the park. Creating a schedule and sticking to it is important; maximizing your time will allow you to achieve more each day without expending more effort, and it may also give you a chance to work some stress-relieving activities into your week. Structure your day with a regular time for waking up, eating, and seeing clients. Create a strict bedtime for yourself and then stick to it. Getting enough sleep each night should never be just penciled in on your schedule, since lack of sleep can add to stress and leave you feeling overwhelmed.

Staying active is also a key stress buster to think about during tax season. If you're seated for twelve hours or so each day trying to beat a deadline, your body will feel the ill effects of inactivity. Take time between seeing clients to walk around the office, and use part of your lunch hour to take a jaunt outside the office for fresh air and a change of scenery. Even a short walk can be beneficial to your psyche, since it allows you to unwind and stop focusing on numbers, deadlines, and tax codes.

What you eat also plays a role in how stressed you feel. The diet that ensues when you're stuck behind a desk during tax season is too often riddled with fast food and laden with empty calories, such as desktop feasts of cheeseburgers and fries or MSG-loaded Chinese takeout. To reduce stress, avoid fatty options that can weigh you down and cause intestinal discomfort; opt instead for hearty salads, sandwiches made with lean meats and whole-grain breads, and other good-for-you options. Keep wholesome snacks on hand, including yogurt, fruit, nuts, and seeds—all of which can help give you brain power when you're working on a stack of 1040s.

In terms of your potential earnings, tax season may be your equivalent of the retailers' Christmas season, but it is also the most stressful time of the year for those in the accounting and tax preparation fields. By prioritizing your obligations, making time for stress-busting activities, working physical activity into your day, and eating a healthy diet, you can lower stress without pulling your hair out in frustration before tax season is over.



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