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It’s that time of year again. Prepare for long working hours, stressful deadlines and being chained to the desk: it’s self assessment season.

Even the thought of the workload can drain accountants’ spirits. But it doesn't have to be this way. To survive the season, accountants should spare a moment from their busy schedules to assess their own resilience and wellbeing; you need to be energetic and in good health to remain productive come the end of January.

But help is at hand: our sister site across the pond is full of tips and advice to help accountants cross the self assessment finish line.


Your natural inclination might be to skip meals and power on; pack in as much work during the day so you don’t lag behind in your already bulging schedule. But’s Jeff Davidson disagrees.

Before you start the day, Davidson espouses the importance of breakfast. Yes, the adage is true: breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

“Many dietary studies conclude that people who skip breakfast are not as mentally sharp, have less physical energy, and tend to put on weight more easily than those who eat breakfast,” he said.

The time-strapped accountants who do eat tend to snack on biscuits, chocolate, or anything within arm’s reach instead of eating something nutritious.

Davidson advises snack-eaters to spend at least ten minutes in the fruit section of a supermarket. This way the snack-reliant accountant is more likely to hit five servings of fruit and vegetables, replacing those belt-expanding treats. “By filling up on these healthy snacks, you’ll be less likely to eat nutritionally deficient foods,” said Davidson.


If accountants struggle to eat healthily, there is little hope for the desk-bound accountant to find time for exercise.

Staying fit during this busy month can be difficult when so much of the day is spent chained to the desk. But Davidson recommends accountants seize the opportunity to exercise in small ways throughout the day.

“There are always times throughout the week where you can get in at least a few minutes of exercise, if not a full workout regimen,” said Davidson.

Something as simple as getting in 10,000 steps a day can maintain current weight and fitness levels. And this can be achieved without a gym membership. Simply take the office stairs instead of the lift, or go for a walk during your lunch break.

“Taking as little as a 15-minute walk in the morning or a 15-minute walk in the evening can do wonders for your circulatory system, not to mention your frame of mind.”

And, as Davidson says, exercise can help you unwind after a stressful day in the office.


If running is the last thing you want to do after a long day’s work, another option is aromatherapy. According to Davidson aromatherapy can combat eyestrain, heart disease and lower back pain, all components of long hours spent working in front of a computer.

Even dentists use aromatherapy to diminish the stress often associated around their offices. Davidson explained: “Even patients having root canals, when immersed in a room primed with relaxing scents exhibited less anxiety and higher levels of relaxation than those in unscented rooms.”

Whether you steam essential oils in a vaporiser or add six drops to a bath, aromatherapy can be delivered in many forms: inhalation, vaporisation, bath or massage.  As for the science behind it, the scents boost your neurological functioning through stimulating the neurons in the brain. The healing properties of the aromas then flow through the nervous, respiratory, circulatory, and immune systems.


What are your SA season rituals to relieve stress or build resilience during this season?

About Richard Hattersley

Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.


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11th Jan 2017 09:54

The 31 January issue is largely avoidable if the practice pays sufficient attention to planning and "managing" clients during the period from 1 June to 30 November each year. There are countless numbers of accounts and tax returns prepared in December / January which, with a little management, be dealt with pre December.

Rather than give advice on diet and exercise it would be better to address the cause of the problem i.e. practice management.

Thanks (1)
to Trethi Teg
11th Jan 2017 11:20

Hi Trethi Teg,

Thanks for your reply. We agree. Our Practice Excellence programme is built on the importance of client service.

Elsewhere on the site, Finola McManus stressed the importance of planning in September:

This is also covered in her 'why client communication is so important' article.

Receipt Bank is also a good source when it comes to this. Their "Avoid these 4 end of year accounting nightmares" downloadable asset emphasises how having the correct practice management procedures in place can sidestep much of this end of year stress. Here is the link to that one:

Thanks (3)