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How to Keep Your Body Healthy & Your Mind Sharp During Busy Season

by Roo Mulligan | Feb 13, 2020
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Anyone familiar with the public accounting world during busy season knows that CPAs barely have time to come up for air. Work hours are long. Demands on your time are plentiful and healthy habits fall by the wayside. Finding time to exercise, eating right, and making sure you get enough sleep all end up at the bottom of the priority list. There are only so many hours in a day and one person can only do so much.

We also know that lack of sleep, stress, and poor eating habits can lead to getting sick, catching every cold that blows through the office, or feeling under the weather, grumpy, and strung out. Who has time for any of that?

Staying healthy needs to be a top priority so that you have the energy and stamina to get through this very demanding time. But, how do you do that and how do you even know what to prioritize and focus on?

Kris Carr, leading wellness expert and New York Times bestselling author, has identified five pillars of wellness: what you are eating, drinking and thinking, and how you are resting and renewing.

I would like to propose that for CPAs there are four pillars of well-being that you need to focus on during busy season to keep your body healthy and your mind sharp.

The 4 Pillars of Well-being for CPAs are:

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

I will go into more depth on pillars 3 and 4 in a separate article and offer tips and suggestions for what to do to up-level in those areas to maintain your health all through the season.

So, let’s talk about Pillars 1 and 2.

1- What you are eating.

Food nourishes our bodies, provides nutrients, vitamins, and minerals essential to keep us alive and vibrant. When you are busy it is easy to slide into convenience foods. You grab take out or swing through the drive-through on your way into the office or heading home. Sometimes you work through lunch or wolf something down at your desk in 10 minutes between meetings.

Well-meaning co-workers bring in sugary donuts as a treat, management provides pastries and other sweets to cheer you up throughout the day. When the quality of your food goes down you are not able to perform as well.

According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD, “Throughout the body, excess sugar is harmful. Even a single instance of elevated glucose in the bloodstream can be harmful to the brain, resulting in slowed cognitive function and deficits in memory and attention.”

That treat that you think is going to give you a pick up in the afternoon when you are dragging is actually slowing down your thought process and making your job more difficult.

But how do you continue to eat healthy food when you are so busy?

Here are some tips and suggestions for quick, easy, healthy meals:

  • Prep meals for the week. In as little as a half hour to an hour on Sunday you can prep all five of your lunches and multiple dinners for the week.
    • Get 5 quart jars and make salads. The salads will stay fresh for the whole week if you add dressing just before eating.
    • Cook a large pot of wild or brown rice and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
    • Chop up different vegetables—onion, zucchini, bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower are some options. Drizzle with olive oil, add garlic salt, black pepper, oregano, and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
    • Purchase pre-chopped ingredients—vegetables, salad mixes, cans of black beans, roasted chickpeas, nuts, dried fruit, pouches of tuna and salmon, marinated tofu, cubed and cooked chicken, or your favorite veggie burgers.

Now that you’ve spent a little time prepping on Sundays it will be super easy and quick to eat healthy during the week. For your lunches you can grab one of your salad jars, add a little dressing, a protein, and some nuts to snack on. For dinner you can make healthy one dish meals, “Buddha Bowls” with a little rice, some beans, roasted veggies and top with hot sauce or feta, or you can add a little olive oil and lime juice, salt, and pepper. Voila! You have a delicious, healthy dinner.

2- What you are drinking

When you are tired and maxed out it is easy to reach for caffeine. The problem with too much caffeine is it can give you the jitters and dehydrate you.

Toby Mundel from Massey University writes in Science Alert, “By the time you feel thirsty your body is already dehydrated; our thirst mechanism lags behind our actual level of hydration.

“Research shows that as little as one percent dehydration negatively affects your mood, attention, memory and motor coordination. Data in humans is lacking and contradictory, but it appears that brain tissue fluid decreases with dehydration, thus reducing brain volume and temporarily affecting cell function.”

In a nutshell, being properly hydrated ensures you are able to think clearly and function at your best.

To remain hydrated it is best to drink water or herbal tea. An easy way to make sure you are getting enough ounces of water a day is to get yourself a large aluminum water bottle and refill it several times a day.

If plain water is too boring you can jazz it up with some frozen fruit. This will keep it cold and enhance the taste without adding extra unhealthy sugars.

These are some suggestions to keep yourself in top form during busy season. You’re body and mind will thank you.

In the next article I will offer some tips for making sure you are getting enough sleep and managing stress and burnout.

Roo Mulligan headshotRoo 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 at rmulligan@wscpa.org.

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