So long office blues -- 8 ways to put a spring in your step

Accounting professionals are known to be hard working and dedicated to their work, generally.

Throw into the equation the tax preparation season, which feels like it is never-ending (it usually lasts from January right up until mid-April), trying to stop work for a few minutes and focusing on keeping yourself healthy can be easier said than done.

But overdoing it long term is not only counterproductive it can lead to you feeling run-down and despondent.  Below I have put together my eight top tips to keep the office blues firmly at bay.

1. Food for Thought and Other Things

When there's a cafeteria in the building where you work, taking a lunch or snack break is so much easier that if you have to go out.  On the other hand, if choices for lunch include high fat items like lasagna or a comfort food such as macaroni and cheese or meatloaf, then life will be more difficult.  The afternoon energy letdown will overtake you like a bullet train and you can find yourself nodding off.  Many companies today offer healthy choices for their employees. Posted information by each menu item makes a healthier choice easy.

If your lack of office catering facilities means you need to take a jaunt down to the local deli, just make sure you are eating the right kind of sandwiches, preferably brown ones and with plenty of salad and vegetables included.

2. Fitness for a Good Life

You're lucky if your company is close to a gym, or if it has a dedicated fitness center of its own -- or a common one which building tenants may use.  Squeeze a short workout in before you start work, or before you eat lunch (afterwards it's not advisable).  Studies show that when you have been hard at work during the day with all that left brain activity there is nothing like winding down after work with a short exercise routine. If you are not lucky enough to have a gym nearby maybe a few times a week you can cycle to work or get off the subway a few stops earlier and take in some fresh air.

3. Keep Your Two Lives Separated

Don't take your personal life, issues, and problems to work, as they can be a hindrance to achieving the quality concentration you need to function properly.  If you are constantly worried about your kids' college fund then you'll get tired and stressed out and more depressed as the day wears on.  If you need to call home to check on something, do it on a break and allow for a few minutes of wind down time before returning to your office.  You can mentally put aside the problem and concentrate on work this way.

4. The Nesting Instinct is Strong in This One

While keeping your home and work life separate, you can still make your own space work for you.  Check-out company policy first before redecorating your area.  The key is to have a few nicely framed photos, perhaps a live plant if there's enough light, and an inspirational-to-you picture or painting on the wall.  Just because it's personal, always be careful about putting anything controversial up in your office.  Having a few homely touches will not detract from you being seen as and feeling 100% professional, but know the office policy on decorations before embarking on a redesign.

5. A Circle of Colleagues

Having colleagues at the office you can talk to casually about a tough work or personal problem can be very important for stress relief or tackling depression. Make sure you leave it there at the end of the day.  Do not stalk colleagues about a problem, and keep it light -- co-workers don't to hear about too much doom and gloom while they're trying to work on a budget or other task.

6. Get Organized

Isn't this what being a successful accountant is really all about? It's not just about being tidy it's about professional rigor. Mixing up the Profit and Loss account of Dupont's Bakery with that of the DriveThru Printshop is not just sloppy, it could be grounds for losing the client and even disciplinary action. You don't need me to tell you, if you are surrounded by clutter then your mind can also be cluttered and stress can creep in easily   If you can squeeze a half hour once a week to organize your computer files, as well as the filing cabinet and any supplies you keep in your office, you will function a lot better for it.

7. Treat Yourself Occasionally

When you get home you can take in a play, see a movie, or go out to a nice restaurant.  Try something different occasionally -- a new ethnic restaurant that just opened up or an independent movie or off-the-wall art gallery.  A new way of looking at things will help you in the office when those numbers just won't crunch.   Mission accomplished with the project and the stress and worry will disappear.

8. Take a Deep Breath

If you can fit in a yoga class, take a nice walk and breathe deeply, or get a massage -- these are all extremely relaxing ways to let off some steam, and then you can return to work and tackle that heavy project with new eyes and a much better outlook.

This might all feel like things you know, but it's not just about knowing them, it's about doing them. If you do do them, you will feel energized and great all day long, all year long even!

One more thing -- smile at least once a day, even if it's only to yourself.  There's no better stress reliever than that.

Written by Lloyd Burrell, BA(Hons), ACA

Burrell started his career as a Chartered accountant in the City Of London. He now enjoys blogging about all things office. He also writes detailed reviews on office desk furniture.

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