Managing Anxiety During Tax Season

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While you’re busy taking care of your practices and clients this tax season, make sure to check in with yourself as well. Here are some quick self-care tips to implement to keep yourself happy and healthy this tax season!

Take breaks

That’s right, take a break. You don’t need to be going 500 miles a minute, all day, every day. Take a break. Walk around your neighborhood, take a nap, have a snack. Let your brain relax for a minute or fixate on something you enjoy.

Taking breaks at work does increase productivity, even if machines and computers are idle for a few minutes. The short time away gives employees the chance to stretch tired muscles, find relief from sustained positions and postures and retain any information they might have learned in the last hour or so. The short breaks also help employees refresh, and this will cut down on expensive workplace accidents.” (Work-Fit)

Short breaks to digest information, get blood pumping and allowing for social interaction (or the lack thereof, in some cases) helps employees reset. This reset is good for them and good for your business. Do it!

Connect with others in the profession

Whether it’s employees in your practice, other practitioners you know or just following industry professionals on social media, it’s important to stay plugged in to those around you. The 2020 tax season has been a roller coaster and it can feel like you’re constantly in the trenches. But, you’re not alone. And that’s the thing to remember here.

There are hundreds of groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, #TaxTwitter, newsletters, magazines, training websites and vendors that have created communities to connect you with others in your profession. Use these (most are free) communities to ask questions and connect to other accountants/tax pros/bookkeepers. You never know the solutions that could be sitting at the firm next door, or create a partnership that elevates your firm to the next level.

Breath work and other anxiety-reducing practices

This will come as a shock to no one I’m sure, but adult stress in the United States has had a substancial increase this past year.

“According to a new public opinion poll released by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), 62% of Americans feel more anxious than they did at this time last year. That marks a sizable increase over APA polls of the past three years, in which the number has ranged between 32% and 39%.” (American Psychiatric Association)

Although I cannot confirm with data, I would imagine tax professionals and accountants have an even higher anxiety level these days because of their work being directly impacted on an almost monthly basis for the past twelve months. New tax code, PPP loans (and forgiveness), COVID-19 regulations… the list goes on.

“Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come.” (Healthline)

Anxiety can manifest itself in elevated blood pressure levels, sweating, headaches, stomachaches, irritability, withdrawing from work/friends/family, procrastination, and many other ways. Because anxiety solicits such a physical response, there are physical things you can do to help subside it.

Let’s start with breathing Exercises. Basic breath work is a HUGE and SIMPLE thing you can do that is guaranteed to help your anxiety. There are breathing exercises that are 2-5 minutes long, then there are ones that go on for 30-40 minutes. Natalie, @TheEmotionsQueen on Instagram, has a great range of breath work videos you can watch in the morning, before you go to bed, on a break at work, or wherever you need to take a second and help get your blood pressure down.

Breath work was something I personally had tried several times before in yoga and meditation classes and Natalie’s program was the first thing to actually help me truly learn how to maintain a level head in anxiety-inducing situations. I’d recommend her classes 100%. If you struggle with stress and anxiety, whether internal or situational, breathing exercises is a great place to start.

Here are a few other tips to help reduce stress in anxiety-inducing situations:

  • Excuse yourself when needed – Allow yourself to feel your emotions. If you’re frustrated, be frustrated. If you’re mad, be mad. Excuse yourself (take that break we mentioned above) and give yourself a reset. Don’t bottle up your emotions. There’s obviously an appropriate time/place to make your problems known, so if you need to excuse yourself to gather your thoughts until an appropriate time to discuss them, do so.
  • Be realistic – There will be times that you will mess up. There will be situations when you run out of time. Accept it and be proactive. Do not overwork yourself. Set realistic standards for yourself and don’t beat yourself up if you miss something. Adjust and continue when you’re ready.
  • Listen to your body – You know when you’re not at your best. Use your PTO, use your sick days and put yourself first. Eat and sleep regularly and don’t work yourself to death.

You will never be good to your clients and your business partners if you’re not being good to yourself.