Did you know that the effect of one mild-to-moderately stressful event can last hours in the body? What if you added to that by the barrage of demanding emails, last-minute deadlines, family obligations and a never-ending list of errands? As you can see here, when combined with other demands, that one stressor can last days, weeks, months and even years in your body.
The longer we hold this pressure inside us, the more we begin to feel its physical and mental effects. It starts with a small unease of the body, such as irritability, constipation, acne, low energy and low libido. When I speak with my fellow cohort of CPAs, I learn it gets much worse. Many colleagues around you are suffering from auto-immune disorders, infertility, diabetes, mild depression, anxiety and so much more that are compounded by stress. If you’re one of them, you’re not alone. Burnout is real and can spread like wildfire.
Most of us think of our minor health issues as unrelated to stress, or that the many health problems in the body are unrelated to one another, but given this information, what do you think? Could it be possible that stress is affecting you more than you realize?
Stress and business
When I ask CPAs to rank their average stress levels on a scale of 1-10 (10 being high), I always see the same results. Unfortunately, I’ve never come across a CPA that rated themselves below a 4. More likely than not, I’m around professionals that usually range from 6.5 to 9.
If we can begin to ease the pressure within ourselves, we’ll set an example for those around us. You’ll notice an improvement in your happiness because you’ll actually feel better. With time, anxiety, irritability and even some major health concerns can ease. Maybe you can rid yourself of stress’s grip all together!
If you invite this opportunity for positive change, you’ll notice that the improvements won’t only change you. You have the power to benefit your team efficiency, client relationships and revenue goals. Imagine how nice it’d be to know that reducing your stress could improve your team’s year-end bonuses.
If this all feels like an exaggeration, read on. According to the Framingham Heart Study, happiness does not spread among people in a ‘one-to-one’ manner but infuses up to three degrees of separation. Everything we do or say tends to ripple through our network, having an impact on our co-workers (one degree), our clients (two degrees), and our industry (three degrees). It’s an incredible thing to know that because you’re happier, you’re changing the framework of the entire CPA profession.
Ways to overcome the pressure
Stress is energy that can be transformed to create positive change if we harness it properly. Below are a few tips to help manage stress in your everyday life:
Put yourself first. We all have personal, professional, family and social obligations, but if you’re not taking care of you, others will inevitably have to. As they say before the airplane takes-off, “please put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”
Start a dialogue with your organization. Connect with your engagement teams, Human Resource directors, diversity and inclusion group leads and other supportive workplace mentors who can grow your vision of making the workplace a more positive Although not a requirement for improvement, they often have budgets that can help create greater impact.
Embrace a healthy lifestyle. Everything that we’re experiencing affects our perception of what’s going on. By caring for our bodies in the best way we know how we’re setting ourselves up for success. Even the worst events can feel less “heavy” if we can depend on a steady, healthy routine.
Communicate consciously. If you’re overwhelmed, be mindful of the reactionary emails and messaging that you’re passing to others. Most importantly, if you’re already in full “burnt-out” mode, let someone know immediately. Internalizing your stress is only going to exacerbate what you’re experiencing physically, mentally and emotionally.
Seek empowerment. Consider working with someone who can help bring out the best in you. Family and friends are amazing but can be biased based on their personal beliefs. Connect with a life coach, a mentor, community group or another support system that can help you stay accountable to your best self.
While working in a fast-paced, complex environment, it’s normal to experience stress. The goal here isn’t to eradicate these feelings. It’s to manage them and to support one another through their stressful times. As most of us experience these days, busy seasons feel longer, and our free time is diminished. It’s critical that we create boundaries and find a compromise to allow our colleagues to thrive in their personal endeavors as well. You’d be surprised how much more effective your team can be when everyone has a positive, stress-reducing mindset.