The Health Benefits of 'Eating, Drinking and Being Merry' During Busy Season

I'm sure the thought of "eating, drinking and being merry" during the busy season may seem unrealistic to most tax and accounting professionals, but there are numerous health benefits that may surprise you. During busy season, you can do several things to increase your physical and mental health, increase blood circulation, and reduce stress and fatigue.

Eating
It is very important to start your day with a nutritional breakfast.

Research has shown that eating a nutritional breakfast will increase your energy and ability to focus. Even if you start your day with a 7 a.m. appointment with a long-time client, it is still very important to start your day with a breakfast that is high in protein, such as eggs and peanut butter. Protein will last longer throughout the morning, working to decrease your hunger.

Eating a breakfast that is high in sugar will give you a short energy high along with a mid-morning decrease in energy and ability to focus. Mid-morning and in the afternoon, you should give yourself an instant energy boost by nibbling on a handful of almonds or cashews. Almonds and cashews are high in magnesium, which helps prevent fatigue.

Your schedule may be packed with client prep time and interaction with clients. It is still very beneficial to take time to eat a nutritional lunch to give your body fuel and your mind a short break. You should avoid snacks or beverages that are high in sugar and caffeine.

Drinking
We've all heard how important it is to drink at least eight glasses of water each day, but how many of us actually do that?

During busy and stressful times, it is even more important to make sure we drink plenty of water. In many cases, fatigue, headaches and back pain may be caused by dehydration. Water is an essential nutrient that our bodies rely on to digest and absorb vitamins and nutrients. It also detoxifies the liver and kidneys and carries waste from the body.

If you are dehydrated, your blood actually thickens and is harder for the body to circulate. This results in the brain becoming less active, making it harder to concentrate and leaving you feeling fatigued. If you feel yourself getting tired, get up and walk to the water fountain/cooler and fill your water bottle. The short break from work and the bottle of water will help re-energize you and increase your ability to concentrate and continue working.

Here are some helpful tips to help ensure you drink enough water:

  • You are naturally thirsty in the morning. Help "jump start" your day by drinking a full glass of water first thing in the morning.
  • Drink warm water if you are cold instead of coffee or tea, which have caffeine. Caffeine dehydrates your body.
  • If you drink coffee, tea or sodas with caffeine, you will need to drink a few extra glasses of water to make up for the water that these diuretic beverages remove from your body.
  • Make it a habit to take a few swallows of water every time you open a client file in your tax prep software. Don't wait until you are thirsty to have a drink, you are already dehydrated if you feel thirsty. Keeping a full water bottle within reach at your desk will help remind you to drink throughout the day.

Being Merry
We have all heard the saying "Laughter is the best medicine." Have you ever sat with friends or watched a comedy and laughed so hard you really felt refreshed?

When we laugh, our blood vessels dilate due to the release of the protective chemical nitric oxide. Laughter increases our blood circulation, eases muscle tension, reduces stress hormones and boosts our immune system. The Fisher Institute has identified the following additional benefits of laughing:

    • Improved physical health
    • Improved mental health
    • Improved emotional health
    • Improved spiritual health
    • Reduced stress
    • Positive effect on your attitude

Being able to laugh about ourselves and our situation helps us to release the tension, regain our perspective and accept that which we cannot change. Not only that, but as already stated, it also gives us the physical energy and resilience needed to survive.

Find what makes you laugh whether it is visiting with friends, watching a comedy, or clipping a cartoon and placing it where you can see it during the day. Help your fellow workers relieve stress by sharing a cartoon, funny story or taking time to briefly visit between clients. Take time to laugh!

You should also listen to music when you can. Researchers for Seattle University determined that listening to the rhythms in music relaxes blood vessels and assists in the production of stress hormones. Music can be very calming and can also reduce distractions from office noise, allowing you to focus and concentrate on the work at hand. Listening to soothing classical music may actually help when trying out those deferred tax credit carry forwards!

Office Exercises
During busy season, many hours are spent at our desks. Here are a few exercises you can do that involve stretching and strengthening your body, all within the comfort of your office chair. All you need is a chair and a full water bottle or light to medium weight dumbbell.

Wrist Stretch: Extend your arm in front, palm up and grab the fingers with the other hand. Gently pull the fingers towards you to stretch the forearm, holding for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Wrist and Forearm: Press hands together in front of your chest, elbows bent and parallel to the floor. Gently bend wrists to the right and left for 10 repetitions.

Lower Back Stretch: Sit tall and place the left arm behind left hip. Gently twist to the left, using the right hand to deepen the stretch, holding for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Bicep Curl: Hold the water bottle in your right hand and, with abs in and spine straight, curl bottle towards shoulder for 16 repetitions. Repeat on the other side.

Side Bends: Hold the water bottle with both hands and stretch it up over your head, arms straight. Gently bend towards the left as far as you can, contracting your abdominal muscles. Come back to the center and repeat to the right. Complete 10 repetitions (bending to the right and left is one repetition).

Abdominal Twists: Hold the water bottle at chest level and, keeping your knees and hips forward, gently twist to the left as far as you comfortably can, feeling the abdominal muscles contract. Twist back to the center, and move to the right for a total of 10 repetitions. As you approach busy season, remember the importance of "eating, drinking and being merry." It's well within your ability.

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Cheryl Nelson, RN, MBA, CMPE, is a registered nurse and medical practice management advisor with the accounting firm EideBailly, and has more than 20 years' experience in health care, medical practice management and clinical service in inpatient and outpatient environments. She has a BA in nursing and an MBA, and is a certified Medical Practice Executive and member of the National Medical Group Managers' Association, the College of Medical Practice Executives and the South Dakota Medical Group Managers' Association

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