I am swamped – the same usual tax season stress! 6 CPAs told me this in just one day.
It is very common for CPAs to face tax season stress. Clients start dumping documents onto CPAs, as the tax deadlines near. Work supposed to be done in months has to be done in weeks. You tried everything to get clients to respond earlier but you are back to the same situation, like last tax season. Swamped. Stressed. Burning out fast.
But there are very easy, simple and proven ways in which neuroscience helps you manage the workload with happy mind. Here are five such techniques to reduce tax season stress, surprisingly simple and quick to implement, today.
Fight or flight
Let’s first very quickly understand the neuroscientific reason why tax season becomes a stress. It is NOT the deluge of documents, data, details and deadlines that cause tax season stress. It is the way your brain works. When faced with threats, human brain produces hormones that prepare you to fight or flight (run away). You breathe faster. Blood (hence energy) flows to muscles. Your vision focuses only on the threat. And so on.
Tax Season is a Fight
For CPAs, there is no running away in tax season. Revenue comes in fast during tax season. You see and experience the “threat” of revenue loss and fast approaching deadlines. You brain tells your body to prepare to fight the documents, data, details and deadlines. The energy flows to your muscles but you neither use that energy to fight nor to run away. That “nervous” energy needs to be used and if not, it converts into anxiety and stress.
Techniques to Detox Yourself from this Nervous Energy of Tax Season
1. Use Your Muscles: Do stretch exercises. Drink so much water that you must get up and go the restroom a few times a day – use the energy to walk inside your office. Use the energy of your muscles a bit more than usual.
2. Focus on Details: Once you touch a tax return in your hands, focus on details and complete every step that you can with the available information. Focusing on something requires energy. Spend that nervous energy by focusing.
3. Distract Yourself: Contrary to the belief that distractions reduce productivity, conscious distractions can help you increase productivity and reduce stress. Any new situation makes our brains ultra-alert due the possibilities of threat. It requires using up some energy to grasp a new situation. It diverts your pent up nervous energy. This conscious distraction could be a simple popup recurring reminder on your computer screen every 30 minutes or 1 hour – something like “Smile Please” on your screen can freshen you up.
4. Breathe Slowly: Just 10 deep (real deep) breaths can inject plenty of fresh “oxygen shots” into blood stream. It helps muscles relax, brain defreeze and clear mind.
5. Role-play: Advise yourself. Presume that the problem on hand is something that your partner or staff brings to you for your advice. What will you tell that person? What will you explain? Tell that you yourself! Neuroscience research has proven that “distancing yourself” reduces anxiety and even reduces blood-pressure!
DeTax to Detox:
Overly taxing your brain during the tax season can be toxic to your health. So DeTax your brain using these 5 simple techniques and Detox yourself every day.
Have more ideas to help CPAs and Tax Preparers overcome their tax season stress? Please share here.