Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 51 seconds

After months of long, stressful days hunched over a computer, dealing with difficult clients and sorting through unorganized receipts, you’re ready to unwind. Come April 16, many accountants will take a well-earned vacation. But it’s not always easy to flip the switch and go from a constant-pressure mode to a Zen zone. 

You already know that stress is bad for your health. It distracts you during the day, keeps you up at night and manifests itself in physical aches and pains. The stress that practicing accountants face can be more intense than that of other professions, in part because of the deadline pressure. Whereas people in other lines of work have various ongoing deadlines, much of some CPA’s work is due on a few specific single days. Until those times, pressure mounts; after them, it drops off precipitously. 

The best way to deal with stress is the direct approach.  Build and maintain all of your personal resources while under stress. Don’t let the stress wear you down. Here are five tips to take you from aggravated to relaxed and rested. 

  1. Eat well. Food is not only fuel that supplies energy to get you through the day; it keeps your body running in optimal condition. Be conscious of your food choices. Try to eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Eat protein throughout the day.  Protein is metabolized slowly and will help you maintain a more consistent energy level.  Avoid the high sugar rapid energy sources; these will simply keep you on a roller coaster of energy followed by fatigue.

  2. Exercise. You may have developed a perma-slouch due to sitting at a computer nonstop for months. Now is the time to shake it off.  Ideally you would have discovered the value of exercise during the stressful timeframe.  Exercising aerobically and daily has clearly been shown to lower stress and enhance productivity.

  3. Get quality sleep. Sure, you may think that you run just fine on a little bit of sleep and a lot of coffee, but when you are truly rested (7-8 hours of sleep each night), you’ll wake up refreshed and stay more focused during the day. Often the secret to good sleep is cutting off coffee after the morning cup.

  4. Play. Do whatever you enjoy…Play catch with your dog. Tickle your kids. Dance. Whatever makes you smile and laugh will enhance your well-being. Reconnecting with the people you care about will enhance your sense of well-being.

  5. Get a physical. It’s easy to neglect your health when work is busy, but now that tax season has passed, there is no excuse for not taking care of yourself. Regular preventive care in the form of once-a-year checkups give doctors a chance to spot any potential health problems early. It also imparts peace of mind to you and those who love you.

Marilyn Howarth, MD, FACOEM, an internal medicine specialist at Penn, is the Medical Director of the Penn Center for Executive Health. She is published in the field of Occupational & Environmental Health.  

The Penn Center for Executive Health offers tailored health assessments to individuals and corporate executives. Part of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania – nationally ranked as one of the top 10 hospitals by U.S. News & World Report – The Penn Center for Executive Health offers a complete physical, necessary screenings and diagnostic tests by world-renowned Penn clinicians, all based on the latest, nationally recognized guidelines.


Marilyn Howarth, MD

Last modified on Sunday, 02 June 2013
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