Beating the Stress of Tax Season
If you are like most Americans, you probably have only one thing on your mind these days: income taxes. The college basketball brackets have been destroyed by upset wins, spring break has ended for your children, and the weather just hasn’t been good enough lately to get out and do some yard work in preparation for sunny days to come. All of this leaves you without distraction, and perhaps your mind frequently drifts towards the upcoming April 15th deadline.
For those lucky few of you out there that have already filed your returns, the middle of April will just be a nice time for you to start planning your summer vacation. But many people are still running around their offices or homes, looking for those missing receipts and wondering how their perfect filing systems didn’t quite work out again this year. Trying to balance this added stress with your existing work and home schedules can sometimes prove to be overwhelming, leaving you exhausted at the end of the day. Not only will this added stress effect your mood and energy levels, but it can also lead to more long-lasting negative effects such as increased blood pressure, diminished immune system function, and loss of quality sleep at night.
Here are five simple suggestions for handling this stressful time of year. While these are suggestions that are also ideal for maintaining good health all year, they play an especially important role right now to help you combat the sudden increase in stress that you may be experiencing.
- Exercise: Granted, your free time these days may already be taken up with number-crunching and talking to your accountant. But you don’t necessarily have to make it to the gym for an hour to get a little beneficial exercise in your day. Take a walk around your office at lunch, climb the stairs in your building for fifteen minutes, or replace a less-active part of your day (watching television, reading the newspaper, having that cocktail after work) with something that makes you break a sweat. The positive neurological and physiological effects of exercise can help dampen your stress and will help you bring down your blood pressure.
- Diet: Make sure that you are eating sensibly, with decent portion sizes that place an emphasis on vegetables and lean proteins. And skip the sugar-enriched snacks in favor or fruits or granola that will give you better, more long-lasting energy to use while you plow through your 1099’s and W-2’s. Also, make sure you are getting plenty of water throughout the day, and try to avoid stimulants like coffee in favor of anti-oxidant beverages like green tea. As tempting as a cocktail may be after hours of deciphering Uncle Sam’s paperwork, don’t forget that alcohol is technically a depressant and a diuretic–two things that really won’t help you stay in tip-top, productive shape. Make sure that you are taking at least a decent multi-vitamin supplement to restore any nutrients that you may be depleting at an accelerated rate due to stress such as Vitamin C.
- Rest: While you may find it difficult to sleep with figures dancing in your head, regular sleep will restore your body’s energy, allow for repair of damaged neurons, and give your immune system a chance to recharge. Sleep deprivation has numerous side effects, none of which will help you conquer the tax monster this season. Most people perform their best with eight to ten hours of sleep at night. If you find yourself having trouble falling asleep, try some calming chamomile tea before bed. Also, I suggest that you refrain from watching television programming that enhances your anxiety (violent dramas or late-night news) and may leave your mind over-stimulated or depressed and therefore unable to fall into the deep sleep cycle necessary for your body’s repair and regeneration.
- Verbalize your stress: While it isn’t always easy to talk about what’s bothering you with your loved ones, try to find a verbal outlet for your stress at this time of the year. Your accountant may be in the same boat as you as far as stress these days, but perhaps a close friend, spouse, or family member could provide a kind ear and a reassuring embrace to bolster your spirits and offer advice. The more you try to contain the stresses in your life, the more acute they become. Everyone gets anxious about taxes this time of year, and I am sure you can find a sympathetic listener among your peers that may even be in need of a little venting as well.
- Take a time-out: Much like exercise, regular maintenance care of your body during a stressful time can do wonders to relieve your tension, lift your spirits, and restore your positivity. Take time for yourself and see your chiropractor for regular spinal adjustments to support the immune system and relieve stress. See your massage therapist to address any muscle tension you may be feeling. Or you could visit your favorite aesthetician for a relaxing facial. These little gifts to yourself will give you a needed break from your calculator and pen, and help get you through this tax season in good health.
As always, thank you for reading and please feel free to pass this information on to your friends and family if you feel they would benefit. If our clinic can be of service to you in order to help relieve your stress or address any other health concerns, please contact our office at your convenience to schedule an appointment or consultation.
Helping you maximize your body’s potential for performance and longevity,
Dr. Seth Alley, DC, CCSP