Stop and Think Before Stress Kills You

The rat race is turning us all into laboratory rats. Therefore, we should all take to heart The Lancet report last week about the connection between stress and coronary problems. Now is the time for action.

The odds are that almost everyone reading this article has a tendency to overdo things. It goes with being an accountant and feeling the constant obligation to impress colleagues and clients (or merely keep them off our backs), not to mention the difficulty of foraging for work in the middle of a recession.

The most interesting additional factor thrown into the mix this time around is the idea that overworking is not too much of a problem provided that you have control over your destiny. The problem here is that very few of us have the final say in critical situations.

Unless you are running your own business, inevitably someone higher up the food chain can potentially make life difficult. Even if you are a sole trader or principal, clients, bankers or those lovely people at HM Revenue and Customs might well be making demands that are impossible to meet.

In this light, there are a number of ideas that we should all be considering as a way of prolonging our lives and increasing our enjoyment of work and leisure.

It is not all bad news. The first thing to realise is that while stress is a key risk factor leading to strokes and heart attacks, others are more significant. Unfortunately, smoking, drinking and eating imprudently are all activities that can be tempting for those of us in the profession, or for that matter industry.

Immodest ingestion frequently combines with a lack of exercise due to elongated working hours and a not unreasonable desire to take things easy at the end of a long day or week.

Entertaining clients can be great fun but frequently entails rather more alcohol than we might expect at the start of the evening and the kind of rich, lavish meals that we would never consider eating en famille, other than on special occasions. Very few of us can resist an expensive wine/port/malt whiskey or the quadruple chocolate mousse that it accompanies.

However, perhaps it is now time to take stock and make it your mission to get healthy. Skipping dessert, the second bottle of wine or that third packet of cigarettes could save your life. So could joining a gym, but that might achieve little more than staving off its owner's bankruptcy for a few additional months, if there is never time to go there.

Escaping stress is quite another matter. Telling clients or the boss to take a running jump might be deeply satisfying in the very, very short run but will almost certainly lead to even greater pressure.

Being more organised can be helpful and trying to prioritise so that those last-minute disasters happen far less frequently should not be beyond any of us. Further, cutting down on working hours by being more focused might also be within reach without causing offence to anybody.

In addition, this columnist is a big fan of leisure activities. Whether it be writing this column, paying constant visits to the theatre, whacking a little white ball around a golf course, reading, listening to music or watching episode four of Parade’s End fun, there is more to life than adding up numbers and selling services.

Please, please, please take a few minutes out to consider the best way of de-stressing your life. It could make all the difference. Remember, being an accountant should be enjoyable, as well as lucrative.

 

Comments
Moonbeam's picture

What about having a group of people to let off steam with?

Moonbeam | | Permalink

As usual, this is a very thoughtful blog. I can hear your kind voice in every word.

I am currently facing some very stressful times. Some days I wonder what is the point of it all. Then a client comes to call and we have a nice chat about something completely unrelated and I feel a lot better.

I feel that if you can count your blessings - and can find enough people to take your mind off things - that is some consolation for the nightly psychosomatic stomach aches.

One person's stress is another's small inconvenience and problems are really all about our general attitude to life and how confident we feel about solving them.

Do pop in for a cuppa should you be passing by!

 

Group Therapy

Philip Fisher | | Permalink

Moonbeam

Taking time out from the strains of the working day certainly makes a lot of sense.

A friendly conversation with clients or colleagues can help to reduce the mental pressure, as well as being enjoyable for all concerned and can also be useful as a marketing tool.

Sadly this doesn't fit in to some working cultures where the appearance of slavery is an overriding requirement, which is a great shame.

I'd love a cuppa.

 

 

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The world is overrun with blogs and tweets. While they serve a purpose, this column is something slightly different. You will not find out what the author had for breakfast or the colour of the socks he is wearing. You will not be pestered with tedious listings of every film, book, play etc that your correspondent has ever seen or his latest success or otherwise on the golf links.

What readers have come to expect from a writer who has been associated with AccountingWEB almost from its inception are objective but on occasion quite possibly opinionated articles about topics that might be of interest to accountants as people. The intention is to be simultaneously challenging, thought-provoking and entertaining.

Since the writer is a partner in the Human Capital team at BDO LLP these columns will frequently take on issues relating to taxation, business and government policy. For light entertainment, he is also London Editor of British Theatre Guide so there will be plenty of hints and tips about what to see and not to see.

He also regularly writes about technology for London Accountant and almost anything else under the sun for a variety of publications so there are always going to be odd surprises in store. Travel, art, books, theatre, sports and consumer issues are all likely to receive consideration in coming months - but so are taxation issues, thoughts on the latest technology and, inevitably, the activities of the Chancellor and HMRC.