How to Keep Your Body Healthy and Your Mind Sharp - Part 2

by Roo Mulligan | Mar 24, 2020

CPAs are in the midst of busy season which means many weeks of long hours and stressful workloads. In the first article of this two part series, I covered how to eat and drink to stay healthy and hydrated to keep yourself energized and in top form.

You learned about the 4 pillars of well being for CPAs

  1. What you are eating
  2. What you are drinking
  3. How much sleep you are getting
  4. How you manage stress and burnout

You can find tips and information on what to eat and drink here.

In this article I am going to cover pillars 3 and 4.

Pillar 3 - How much sleep are you getting?

First, why sleep is important for our health? According to the Harvard Medical School, “sleep is vital for learning and memory.”

Dr. Orfeu Buxton says that studies show that adequate sleep is crucial for a long and healthy life. Most of us have heard the recommendation to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. But, when you are extremely busy that can be hard to do.

Does it really matter if you get less sleep?

The answer is yes.

In the short term, lack of sleep can affect judgement, mood, and the ability to learn and retain information.

Being chronically sleep deprived can lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Now that we know how important it is to get enough sleep, here are some things you can do to make sure you are getting the required zzzs during busy season.

  1. Be Consistent in the time you go to bed and when you wake up, even on the weekends or your days off (do you get days off during busy season?). Keeping a consistent schedule helps the body’s internal clock so you can fall asleep and wake up more easily.
  2. Have a Bedtime Routine – Anyone with kids knows how important a bedtime routine is for getting them to sleep. Maybe that routine is: bath, brush teeth, read a story, go to bed. Adults can benefit from a nightly routine as well. Maybe yours would be: put the phone on silent, wash your face, brush your teeth, meditate for a few minutes or read something inspirational, go to bed. When you take these actions in the same order every night it signals the brain that it is time for bed and you will get sleepier.
  3. Keep Electronics Out of Your Bedroom – The blue light from cell phones and computers suppresses the production of melatonin in our bodies. Melatonin is a hormone that is responsible for making us sleepy. When you inhibit the body from producing melatonin it can be harder to fall asleep and to sleep through the necessary circadian rhythms to be fully rested and restored.
  4. Use a Sound Maker – If you are a light sleeper the slightest sound can wake you in the night. Have a fan running in your bedroom or use a white noise app on your phone. Amazon sells a plethora of portable white noise machines that you can use and take with you when you travel.
  5. Keep Your Room Dark – Just as blue light can keep you awake, any light can suppress melatonin and make it harder for you to sleep. Be sure you have good shades or curtains to keep the bedroom nice and dark.
  6. Take Natural Sleep Aids – If all else fails and you still struggle to sleep you can take a cortisol suppressing supplement, melatonin – available at the drug store, or magnesium. Cortisol is the hormone your body produces when you are stressed. Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for human health and can help treat sleep problems by activating the parasympathetic nervous system to get you calm and relaxed. Magnesium can be taken in pill form, as a powder mixed in water, or put on the skin in lotion form.

Pillar 4 – How You Manage Stress & Burnout

Stress seems to be an inevitable part of our lives now. When you are busy and have an important job like CPAs do, you are likely to experience stress. While we can’t eliminate stress from our lives, we can learn to control our responses to it.

Managing stress is crucial for your health. Stress can cause headaches, sleep problems, high blood pressure, muscle tension, chest pain, fatigue, and a whole host of other physical symptoms.

Here are some tips to help you manage stress & burnout.

  1. Practice Relaxation Techniques – Deep breathing, meditation, and yoga are all ways you can help yourself relax. They don’t have to take a lot of time. Ten minutes of meditation in the morning before you start your day or 15 minutes of yoga poses can make all the difference in how stressed out you are during the day. You don’t have to know a specific way to meditate. You can just sit in silence, close your eyes, and pay attention to your surroundings. Yoga doesn’t have to be hard. You can learn two or three poses and repeat them for 15 minutes first thing in the morning when you get up. There are apps you can put on your phone that will remind you to breathe mindfully for one minute at a time throughout the day.
  2. Plan for Fun – Make a list of five or six things that make you happy. They don’t have to be time consuming or expensive. The list could include watching funny cat videos, reading a fiction book, taking a quick walk outside, having fresh flowers on your desk. Once you have your list, be sure to add at least one to your to-do list every day. While you are busy doing and doing for others, it is important to include yourself on your long list of tasks.
  3. Avoid Sugar and Caffeine – Make sure you are eating right and not adding to your anxiety by eating processed foods or amping up your adrenalin with caffeine.
  4. Spend Time With Family & Friends – Social connection is really important. No matter how busy you are, try to make a little time for your closest confidants. They will be waiting for you in four months when you come up for air, but if you can spend time with them in the middle of all your busyness, it will help to ease some of those burnt out feelings.

Hopefully these tips and suggestions will help you to stay healthy and energized through busy season.

Roo MulliganRoo Mulligan is WSCPA Manager of Member Engagement. She is a certified mental health counselor and fitness specialist with over 10 years of experience in the health and wellness industry. You can reach her via email.

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