Avoiding Burnout - Tips to Help

Hello, my name is Nyrie Sarkissian and I am the owner of Tax Prep A-Go-Go. You have to say my company name with some pizazz. Tax Prep A-GO-GO! I have been preparing tax returns for over 15 years. It all started when my best friend came to me in 2006 and said, “I haven’t filed a tax return for 4 years”. I sprang into action and here we are today. From learning how to fill out a 1040 manually 15 years ago, to now – using TaxAct®, first-class professional tax preparation software. 


My second favorite season is tax season. Right behind football season. And everyone in my life knows that both those seasons are bound to make me stressed out. Whether I’m watching my beloved Philadelphia Eagles lose in the playoffs, or I’m fielding client calls while processing tax returns, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with stress. 


Over the years I’ve implemented a few key strategies to avoid getting too stressed out. High stress is not only unhealthy, but it can lead to burn-out and what I like to call “fog brain” where you could do a simple miscalculation that could mean hundreds or thousands of dollars to your client. 


We all know the basics…taking breaks, exercising, getting enough sleep. What I have are 4 key pieces of advice that go beyond the basics to help keep yourself sane during this time of year. 


#1 – I don’t take breaks. When I’m in tax-mode, I’m fully committed. Taking a break just means that I must use additional time to get back into tax mode when I am back at my desk. I end up forgetting where I left off, having to go back to double check whether I entered the right calculation, and that all takes time to figure out. Often more time than the 10-minute break I just took! So, I found that instead of taking a short break, I take a LONG one. I’m talking about taking the morning off work. Taking Saturday or Sunday off (if you can do both, lucky you). Leaving my desk for a significant amount of time gives me a chance to reboot and when I get back to work, I feel refreshed and motivated to tackle the tasks at hand more so than if I simply stepped away for 10-15 minutes. 


#2 – I don’t exercise. It’s not really my thing. I realize that means I’m not the epitome of health, but my grandmother didn’t exercise either and she lived to 101 years old. I’m hoping I’ve got some of her genes in me. Instead of exercising, I have found a deep love of STRETCHING. A simple stretching of my arms up over my head releases a mountain of pressure on my shoulders. After every return I complete or administrative task I accomplish, I stop, close my eyes, straighten my back, and reach up to the sky. I mix it up with neck rotations, back twists, and I never forget to stretch out my wrists and fingers. All that 10- key data entry does a number on them. If I’m really motivated, I get up from my chair and touch my toes. 


#3 – Understand the art of breathing. I struggled for years with involuntary breathing issues. I would find myself holding my breath for no reason at all. It led to headaches, high blood pressure and, believe it or not, dental issues due to me clenching my teeth when holding my breath. I stumbled upon a great book by James Nestor called “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art” and it changed my life. I highly recommend reading it after this tax season is over. Right now, I’ll give you a great tip to help you get the maximum amount of oxygen in to fuel your body and mind. You ready? Here’s the tip….BREATHE CONSCIOUSLY. That’s it. It’s as easy as knowing your breathing and focusing on it. As I’m writing this I’m consciously inhaling and exhaling. I’m slowly taking in air and slowly letting it out. After about 3 minutes of conscious breathing, I find myself more alert, more energized, more peaceful, and definitely less stressed. 


#4 – Pat yourself on the back! Take a moment every time you finish a return, get an invoice paid, and pay your employees, to give yourself some appreciation for your hard work! Take pride in your accomplishments. Preparing taxes is not easy. Give yourself some time to enjoy the fact that you are counted on for your expertise and knowledge. 

In closing, I could have written a blog about taxes and such, like I usually do. I decided instead to help my brethren out and take a moment to share what keeps me grounded and sane with all of you. Good luck getting through TY2021 and remember to BREATHE.