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Build mental fitness to cope with stressful times

On first impression, Alastair Barlow is a force to be reckoned with. But long before Barlow was a hat-trick winner at the 2019 Accounting Excellence Awards, he suffered his fair share of adversity.

20th May 2020
Editor AccountingWEB
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Alastair Barlow accepting his Accounting Excellence award
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(Alastair Barlow accepts 2019 Accounting Excellence award with co-found Luke Streeter)

“In the harsh world of accounting, you’ve got to be tough. In many ways it’s a black and white industry that’s synonymous with poor communication and a lack of empathy,” he said.

But opening up and talking about his problems has helped him professionally, and in that respect, Barlow thinks accounting has turned a corner.

“As a leader of an accountancy firm that has grown aggressively I’m accustomed to high stress. It’s fair to say it’s been challenging, but having a co-founder in Luke Streeter to share ideas and growing-pains helps significantly.”

Still a taboo

Talking to AccountingWEB during Mental Health Awareness week, Barlow recognised that many sole practitioners don’t have the opportunity to share the load.

“I think it’s much harder for a sole practitioner because the rest of the team rests their problems on their shoulders, but they can’t share their problems for fear they might be seen as weak,” said Barlow.

There is still a taboo about opening up and sharing problems. “But I see it as strength if someone has the power and resolve to open up and share.

“I’ve had counselling in the past and I think it’s one of the best things a person can do. Talking about yourself when the other person’s got nothing else other than to listen is fantastic.”

At the moment accountants are working night and day to keep up with the latest government guidance and deal with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. In additon to wrestling with all the emerging regulations, accountants have to face many more demands from clients for emergency help. The workload is so heavy, many accountants are now admitting to being on the brink of burnout.

Peak mental fitness

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