Don’t let busy season eat you alive

Written on Jan 25, 2018

By Kathy Parry

Kathy ParryImagine you go for a peaceful walk in the woods. The air is slightly crisp, the sky is blue and you feel calm, enjoying the outdoors. Then you see it. In the path just ahead. A bear. And it just made eye contact with you.

Immediately your body goes into full-blown stress mode. Your calm disposition is now a life-saving venture. A cascade of hormones is released to change your body’s physiology to help you either fight the bear or take flight from him. Because you are now a fighting or flighting machine, other systems in your body do not work as well.

bearWhile the bear chases you, you will not digest your food properly, your immune system is compromised, your body will store fat, your heart rate rises and your cardiac system is under stress.

Rest assured; there is no bear. You’re at work, sitting at your desk. It’s busy season and you’re safely tucked behind your computer.

But are you?

If you’re like most CPAs, your profession creates a season in which you are highly stressed. The problem is unlike a bear, which will probably wander away after a few minutes, your stress can persist for days or weeks. The elevated stress hormones of adrenaline and cortisol can create unhealthy scenarios like heartburn and indigestion, poor sleep, high blood pressure and weight gain, and eventually can end up exhausting your adrenal system.

Because busy season isn’t going to calmly walk away, here are a few tips to manage your stress:

  1. Breathe deep throughout your day: By taking 5-10 deep breathes you tell your body the stressful situation has left. Your body will begin to drop the adrenaline levels.
  2. Eat immunity-boosting foods: When your body is in a stressed-out state, your immunity functions are compromised. Top immunity boosting foods include garlic, mushrooms, leafy greens, green tea, coconut oil, and water, water, water.
  3. Plan for stress: You know it’s coming, so ask yourself a few questions before busy season: What situations may arise that will cause me stress? Am I the only one who can take care of that or is there someone to help me? What is my typical reaction to a stressful event? How could I react differently so that my stress levels won’t rise?
  4. Skip the stress eating: Be honest, in the question above did you list “eat something” under typical reaction? For many Americans, this is a very common reaction to stress. We often head for something sweet. But, beware: sugar gives your body a pleasure signal, thus giving a false signal that you aren’t stressed. But sugar does not do the body any good. If you are going to stress eat, make sure there are some healthy options around like an apple, carrots or almonds.
  5. Get back on the trail: Hitting the trail, path or sidewalk (preferably one out of bear territory) is one of the best ways to reduce stress’ dangerous effects on the body. A brief walk in the middle of the day, even around your office inside is a wonderful way to bring stress under control.

So, if you feel the bear about ready to charge this busy season, think about what is happening in your body. It can take weeks or months to recover from the damage done by functioning in a stressed-out state. But only a few minutes to employ stress-fighting tactics.

Kathy Parry, Corporate Energy Expert, helps maxed-out professionals become more energetic and resilient during transitional or disruptive events. Learn more at:

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