Categorized | Advice

Money Stress May Tax Your Health

Posted on 16 November 2008

The stress of tax season is nothing more than one big headache for millions of Americans–quite literally. Tax time brings on added stress, and many of us need to take precautions to avoid serious headaches. According to the National Headache Foundation, an organization dedicated to funding research and various treatment options, stress is one of the leading causes of headache pain, especially stress brought on by financial anxiety. The Foundation says stress can activate profound, chronic headache pains and should be taken very seriously.

Address the Stress
Stress factors–anxiety, depression, excitement, worry, shock, and mental fatigue–are commonly associated with tax time. If you find yourself becoming stressed-out, particularly during this time of year, you may want to practice some of the following Foundation tips. These may help to control or prevent the severity and duration of your tax-time headaches:

  • Learn to recognize signs of tension and anxiety in yourself. Try to avoid stressful situations and control your emotional reactions to them. One way to control stress is to practice relaxation and stretching techniques to release tension.
  • Plan ahead. Give yourself some extra time when filing your taxes this year. Stress caused by rushing around at the last minute to make the April 15th deadline can lead to muscle tension which, if prolonged, may lead to headache.
  • Get plenty of rest. Fatigue is a common headache trigger, so try to get at least six to eight hours of sleep each night. Going to bed and waking up the same time everyday will also help to prevent headache pain.
  • Don’t skip meals. Since hunger can spur a headache, make three daily, well-balanced meals part of your routine.

Casualties of Accounting
All this works for the those who file, but consider the stress that is magnified and placed upon the tax preparer. Most of us never learn about taxes in school and simply hire professionals to fulfill this civic duty. What better way to handle tax-season stress, we figure, than to pay someone else to worry about it.

Most of us never learn about taxes in school and simply hire professionals to take care of this civic duty.

Darren Reed, a corporate finance student, interned at an accounting firm during the 2000 tax season. Having survived those rigors, he was hesitant to go back this year.

“This is the season that makes or breaks an accounting firm,” says Reed. “For some firms, it’s like their whole year. Everything they do fits into these two months. Their objective is to take on as much as they can and never say no to a new client. They are under a tremendous amount of pressure to satisfy everyone they take on.”

It’s no wonder that accountants seem prone to chronic exhaustion, both physical and mental, during tax time. “Some of them look like they’ve been through war,” Reed adds, “and a few even quit after the season is over.

Perks! Give Us Perks!
A few accounting firms take a more strategic approach to preventing health casualties. Firm managers have sought alternative, if not outrageous, solutions to boost their employees’ emotional wellness and contentment during the strain of tax season. Some of the most innovative approaches are summarized below:

  • Hiring a wellness group to consult with employees between mid-February and mid-April on stress, emotional wellness, and physical exercise.
  • Sponsoring on-site chair massages.
  • Hosting exercise sessions to help ward off the fatigue and nagging colds that can strike accountants in the weeks leading up to April 15.
  • Organizing old-fashioned family get-togethers with co-workers.
  • Treating employees to fresh fruit and a buffet of other nutritious items, thereby promoting better nutritional habits.
  • Hiring a gourmet chef to prepare dinner entrees.
  • Treating employees to make-it-yourself sundaes, milk and cookies, or other refreshments.
  • Promoting company morale with a “tax night” party after the last return is mailed.

There’s Always Next Year
As for the regular Joe or Jane, who may just need a little relief from filing returns, planning ahead is the most important way to get your tax season stress under control. And there’s no time like the present: Begin planning ways to reduce your stress for next year’s tax season.

For one thing, you should be aware of the tax aspects of all your financial moves throughout the year. Tax planning involves far more than an annual scramble to defer income and boost deductions. Take advantage of any tax-deferral strategies that you are entitled to. “Tax-deferred” simply means you delay paying the tax. “Tax-free” means you will never owe tax. Tax-deferred savings plans, like 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts, allow you to invest money and let it grow without paying taxes–until you reach retirement age and withdraw it.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Resume Tips says:

    “Most of us never learn about taxes in school and simply hire professionals to take care of this civic duty.” This is a good observation and it is actually a good idea to hire a professional if you can afford it. This will certainly alleviate some of the stress associated with figuring and filing your taxes. You can trust that a professional won’t overlook important details and they won’t make mistakes. Hiring a professional to do your taxes is well worth the investment in the end. It can help save money and time.

    Resume to Referral
    Resume and Career Services

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