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New Year, new balance: managing stress in today's accounting profession.

the accounting profession. much more so than it ost. has been known for its high stress environment and culture, lye seen an increasing lack of healthy life balance result in an ever-increasing number of talented people feeling dissatisfied with their career desperate and even leaving the profession. Among the main culprits, common within all ranks of the profession: increased workloads and longer work Weeks, nonstop deadlines, an expectation of perfection. clients demanding lower lees, high billable hour targets, poor diet and lack of exercise or other outlet.

In addition to sapping energy, chronic high stress increases risk for mental and physical concerns--including lowered producticity, an increase in errors and misjudgments, poor commication with coworkers and clients, decreased job satisfaction. digestive disorders, chronic headaches. lack of sleep, hypertension and weight gain.

Failing to address this problem can negatively impact the health of professional as well as the firm's bulk fill 1111r.

Whill the idea of balancing work with play sounds great in theory, practicing it is not as simple. Through some small adjustments to daily habits, however, stress can be significantly in alleviated to dramatically improve the quality of the CPA's professional and personal life.

Practice regular exercise: This may seem obvious, but I've found the mentality of most CPAs is, "I will found the time to exercise in the future when I have mom to breathe and there's less stress." Unfortunately that. time never comes. People often think that, fir exercise to have any real benefit, it must be an intense workout itt a gym or something 'Hits is often too impractical to lit into a busy. hectic day. So we end up doing nothing for weeks and, in many cases. years.

The truth is, it doesn't take as much time and effort as you might think. Simply doing 15 minutes of intense exercise ill your living room, using no equipment jumping jacks. pushups, crunches. running in place), can be hugely beneficial.Rather than skipping through the commercials of a favorite show you've recorded, let the commercial run and do five, two-minute workouts during an hour-long show. It may seem silly at first, but, if done cnsistently, the long-term physical and emotional effects will be dramatic.

A quick workout done consistently is infinitely more effective than a perfect workout never done. After only a few weeks of exercise, most people experience a significant increase in energy and decrease in fatigue. Exercise provides an outlet for stress and has proven to significantly improve mental alertness and productivity, enabling one to get more work done in less time.

Take regular work breaks: The human body goes through cycles of differing alertness levels. These cycles vary by person. hut can range from 75-125 minutes faking weeks during the clay when experiencing a cycle's low' energy levels all help die body recover, while improving performance. Not getting up and moving around also increases your risk of developing venous clots.

Be mindful of nutrition: When it comes to reducing weight. body tat and improving physical health, nutrition is 80 percent of the equation. This is good news given that the typical professional does not have time to work out two hours a dm.. It does not take much additional time out of one's schedule to eat healthier. Of the 10 leading causes of death, four are associated with not eating a proper diet: heart disease, stroke, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.

Portion control is by far the easiest aspect of healthier nutrition. Even a 10 percent reduction in portion sizes for your meals can add up to nearly 10.000 calories over the course of a month. Reducing portion size doesn't require any special diet abstaining front going to your favorite restaurants or tediously preparing meals ill advance. This is something that anyone can stall immediately, without haying to think about what to cal.

Foster social connections: Frequent contact with friends and loved ones is linked to haying optimal physical and mental health, including fewer chronic conditions and consistent energy levels. One of the common issues the CPA face is lack of adequate social time with friends and loved ones to mentally unwind. Particularly during tax season. the weekend is often thought of as simply two more work days until Monday. Those with are more connected with others in their social network. directly or indirectly, are more likely to be happier in the short and long term. This starts with getting out of the office.

Get sufficient sleep: Adults typically need seven to nine hours of sleep. Not getting enough can lead to an increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease. depression, dialick*s. obesity, irritability and diminished work performance. Getting adequate sleep enhances performance, controls appetite and weight, improves work efficiency as well as reduces errors and misjudgments.

Avoid too much late-day caffeine: CPAs are more likely to rely on stimulants such as caffeine to keep up with busy schedules and long hours. But this does not enhance performance. It just restores performance that has decreased due to sleepiness. It also lowers sleep quality. A moderate amount of caffeine is not harmful and can actually be beneficial. Limit your consumption to one or two servings in the morning.

Reduce high sugar/refined carbohydrate food: Refined. sugary foods raise glucose/insulin and fatigue levels. Eating a breakfast sufficient in protein shows lower levels of glucose and insulin, as well as lower free tatty acids, compared to a breakfast high in simple carbohydrates. Consuming a breakfast high in simple carbohydrates can cause more fatigue and feeling less full. It's better to include protein in one's breakfast for sustained energy throughout the day.


High stress and low energy levels can severek compromise the CPA's health and productivity. Solo practitioners and firms that understand the relevance of focusing on exercise, nutrition, stress reduction and individual values will result in reduced health care costs, improved productivity and a better quality of life. Implementing specific actions the CPA can take and the firm can support will better enable practitioners to perform their best at work, with the physical and mental stamina to pursue personal interests outside of work.

Practitioners who consistently use these effective stress management and energy-improving techniques will have the best chance of thriving in the accounting profession of the 21st century.

Rather than skipping through the commercials of a favorite show you've recorded, let the commercials run and do five, two-minute workouts during an hour-long show.

Jack Kenefick, CPA is a certified nutrition specialist and a certified fitness trainer with the International Sports Science Association. He has been helping members of the accounting profession achieve greater productivity and satisfaction in their career, while living healthier for more than 10 years. You can reach him at
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Author:Kenefick, Jack
Publication:California CPA
Date:Jan 1, 2015
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