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How to Cope With Tax Season Stress

How to Cope with Tax Season Stress Cope Better Therapy

While the New Year is always a time of celebration and hope for better things to come, it also means tax season is here, and this reality brings with it stress for both accountants and for taxpayers. While the longer work hours and heavier work load is very taxing for accountants during tax season, for the taxpayers themselves it is the worry over owing the government a lot in back taxes that is usually the biggest source of stress, and let us not forget thefear of a tax audit.

Unfortunately, we can’t escape the stress of tax season because as Benjamin Franklin said very eloquently so long ago, “There are only two things certain in life: death and taxes,” but we can better manage how to cope with tax season stress.

Don’t let the buildup of stress during tax season impact your health. Spikes in your stress level can increase your risk for depression, anxiety, heart attacks, migraines and ulcers.

Follow these tips for how to cope with tax season stress.

For the taxpayer

According to the American Psychological Association, there is very little that stresses Americans more than money. And while this is usually an everyday stressor, especially for those of us more financially strapped, it is during the process of doing our taxes that we are faced with the overall picture of our financial burden.

Having how much you really earn and how much you have frittered away in a year in front of you can sometimes be a depressing picture. And of course there is also the strain of a complicated filing process, especially for business owners, and the worry about owing back taxes. Here are a few tips to help you survive and cope with the stress of tax season:

Don’t wait to the last minute

When we are worried and stressed over something, we tend to push it off until the last minute. In the long run, this only compounds our stress. If getting your taxes done feels overwhelming, break it up into small, more manageable tasks over a couple days or weeks’ time. Also, make an effort to set an atmosphere that will help you relax like playing your favorite music or burning a candle. You can also reduce some of the tax headache by using tax software or hiring a licensed accountant to do your taxes.

Change how you look at money

While no one is denying that you need money to buy food, pay for a roof over your head and provide good medical care, worrying over money does not have to rule your life. Instead of being consumed with making more money, concentrate instead on living comfortably within your means. Create a financial plan that works for you AND your budget. Living within your budget will reduce stress long-term and put you in control of your finances.

Focus on making positive changes

You have probably heard the expression, “There’s no use crying over spilled milk” before. Instead of pointing fingers between you and your partner over who spent too much money or who made a bad business decision, focus on the future using this time to create new financial resolutions. Nothing can be done about the past, but you can change your future for the better and making changes now for next year will help you cope with the stress of tax season for the upcoming year.

Let go of what you can’t control

In any crisis, whether health or financial, there will always be things you cannot control. You are only causing yourself more stress when you worry over things you cannot change. Instead, take control of what you can, like selling items in your house that you no longer use, make your own coffee (instead of dropping by your favorite coffee shop daily) and cut back on unnecessary and reoccurring expenses like monthly clothing subscriptions, multiple home streaming services and/or that takeout habit. Small changes can lead to big financial reward.

A little treat is good for you in moderation

In order to keep you from giving up on saving money, don’t be afraid to allow yourself small treats as a reward. If you have stayed within your budget all week or all month, allow yourself some leeway for a small splurge, like treating yourself to a nice dinner or fancy craft beer you’ve been wanting to try. It will be easier to stick to your new habit if you have something to look forward to.

For the Accountants

It is not just taxpayers that rack up stress during tax season. Accountants are working 80 hours or more and handling complicated tax issues for the client during tax season, which can really take a toll on their mental and physical health. If you are an accountant, the tips below outline how to cope with tax season stress for you:

Exercise and eat better

When we are stressed, we tend to crave things that are bad for us, especially when it comes to food and alcohol. If you are putting in a 10 hour work day, all you probably want to do is eat what’s convenient (even it’s not good for you), have a few beers or glasses of wine and unwind for the night.

A regular diet of alcohol and fatty foods creates fatigue, depletes our energy and even impacts our sleep. During stressful times, it’s critical to stick to a consistent routine of healthy food choices and regular exercise. Even if you don’t have time to get to the gym or do an extensive workout at home, as little as 15 minutes a day of exercise will energize your body, help clear your stress and decrease the stress hormone cortisol. Take a walk, do some sit ups or put on a quick yoga video to move your body and decrease stress.

For meals, plan ahead so that you aren’t scrounging through your cupboard for high carb, low protein meals.  Healthy meals don’t have to take a long time to make, but they do require preparation. Over the weekend, plan your meals for the week and make sure you have all the ingredients you need ahead of time. Having the ingredients ahead of time will help you cope with tax season stress by eliminating the need to do extra errands midweek, while providing sustainable nourishment.

Get a head start on your day

If it is feasible with your personal responsibilities, start your day early so you can get a jumpstart on all the work you need to get done that day and/or plan your day around your natural rhythm. If you know you get tired in the afternoon, plan a snack, nap or workout break to give your mind some time to recover from your workload.  Additionally, think about the times you are most productive and experiment with planning your day around those peak times.

Don’t forget to take breaks

With the long work hours and high stress levels, burnout is inevitable. To avoid it, you must draw a clear line between work and home and make sure you squeeze in time for taking care of yourself and for doing things you love. When you are on a fast career track, you don’t want to slow down, but sometimes cutting back a little now can save you from total burnout later down the line. Focus on your long-term goals of being a successful accountant and not on how many clients you can jam into one day.

With these healthier choices, you are sure to weather tax season stress a lot better than you did last year.

If you have tax tricks that work for you, leave a comment below.  We could all benefit from extra tips about how to cope with tax season stress.

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