By William Hamilton
Tax season is in full swing. It’s important to keep your stress levels under control for your business’ sake, and more importantly, your health.
Here are 10 proven stress reducers to get through the end of the season in one piece.
1) Exercise. Anything from a 10-minute walk to an hour at the gym can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your endorphins and distract you from daily worries. Don't focus on implementing a whole brand-new workout regiment this time of year, focus on prioritizing just a few minutes every day to do something active and boost your heart rate. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk around your building. Take a class at your local gym this weekend. The key is not quantity, but consistency so you can give your body a needed release during these stressful months.
2) Limit your caffeine intake. Your body takes five hours to process caffeine, so if you have your first cup at 6 am and the last at 11 pm, your body is basically never caffeine-free. Caffeine heightens your blood pressure increases, not decreases, your stress levels.
3) Simplify. We tend to go about our day thinking, "The more I do, the better!" And yet often less is definitely better. Instead of watching your calendar fill up, go ahead and block out personal time. It is far easier to set boundaries before the commitments start to pile up than cancel them when you’re overwhelmed.
4) Get enough sleep. Anyone who has ever been subjected to heavy stress knows that a good night's sleep is often the first thing to go. Adults need eight hours of sleep a night – few get more than six. Avoid large consumption of alcohol, large meals at night, and daytime napping to help you get that good night’s sleep.
5) Delegate. Yes, this can be tricky, but many of us are not an office or household of one. Both staff and family are capable of taking on tasks that you can’t fit your busy schedule. If you really struggle with this, check out our full post on how to be better at delegating.
6) Say no. It seems we always have too much to do and too little time. And yet, in this situation, we often still agree to take on more responsibility. Learning to say no to additional or unimportant requests will help you focus on the tasks you already have.
7) Don’t procrastinate. While you may tackle certain projects easily, there are others you resist until the bitter end. Watching a deadline approach (or pass) while wondering how to force yourself to do the job causes anxiety. If you’re faced with an unpleasant task, get it out of the way at the beginning of the day to clear your mind of it.
Remember, in reality, every task doesn't have to be done perfectly. For many tasks in our lives, "an 80% will pass" so during tax season (your most stressful time of year) don't wait for the perfect time to do something and don't stress about a perfect outcome when a "pretty good" outcome will work just fine. I'm not suggesting to be sloppy at your work - I am suggesting that you take a realistic approach to your daily activity and recognize that a job that's not perfect but that get's done is way better than a job that doesn't get done at all.
8) Eat healthy. Eating too much sugar can result in a “crash.” These crashes can make you extremely ineffective. Hi protein intake, granola, nuts, and fruits and vegetables help to keep your blood sugar stable. It’s also better to eat several small meals during the day, as a large meal can make you tired. Eat a light breakfast before starting your day and pack some snacks. 20 minutes of meal prep one night during the week can set you up for healthy eating instead of just grabbing whatever is fast. Feel like you don't have time to shop? Use a service like Task Rabbit, Post Mates, or Amazon Fresh to deliver groceries to your home or office.
9) Stay organized. Clutter causes stress. No one wants to spend their time and energy trying to find lost items. If you looked around your home or office right now, you would probably find at least 10 things that you could easily live without. Get rid of them!
10) Take a break. We know you’re busy, but too much stress can derail your attempts at staying productive. When you need a break, take one. Take a walk around your office. Do some quick stretches. Have a snack and watch a funny YouTube video (this is one of my favorite web comedy series with Jerry Seinfeld). Things and people break when pressures continue to build without letup. “Pop the balloon” once and a while and a treat yourself to a quick break to release the pressure. That file or client can wait 10 minutes.