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How to Care for Your Mental Health During COVID-19


The year 2020 brought with it many challenges, not least of which was the need to maintain mental health. Accounting professional and certified neuro-linguistics coach Laine Proctor explains why it's so crucial (now more than ever) to engage in self-care and recommends some ideas to help you ensure you're staying healthy.

Dec 2nd 2020
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When I first sat down to write this article, I was so ready to talk about self-care. I had just finished a two-day planning retreat for 2021 and a full day breakthrough with my good friend, Krista Crotty of Velocity Business Strategists.  I was motivated, centered and so ready to talk about self-care. Then I was hit with a barrage of computer issues, half a dozen clients who had bailed early in the pandemic and suddenly wanted to get all of their books caught up within a week, and a number of uncomfortable conversations with loved ones that lead to the realization that I would not be seeing any family or friends for the holidays due to the pandemic. Then as I tried to sit down to squeak out the last bit of the article before my Thanksgiving break, I realized that it had been lost from my during one of my crashes. Major bummer.

Self-Care 101

As I was planning my week last night, thinking about what I was going to do first, I thought again about this article. I thought about the direction I had planned to take. I wanted to talk about meditation, prayer, yoga and energy work as ways of quieting the mind and helping to stay focused. I thought about binaural beats music, Tibetan bowls and other types of sound therapy that, if you are working in your home, you can even try while working. For me it helps to relax and boost concentration at the same time.   I thought about my good friend and colleague Dawn – who has self-diagnosed as too ADD for meditation but swears by the Muse biofeedback headband system. I thought about massage – if you have someone in your bubble who can and will massage you the benefits are endless. I thought about nutrition. I thought about adequate water intake. Of course, many of these are things that most of us are vaguely aware of and make a fairly consistent attempt to do some of on a regular basis. Still, for me, I always enjoy reminders sprinkled with some new suggestions because, truly, these are not concepts that regularly find their way into my consciousness in my line of work. I get to actively put them there and nurture them.

Self-Care 201

Then, I got a text out of the blue last night from an old friend.

This is a friend who I worked with well over a decade ago, on a musical project that I was involved in at the time. He was a very talented producer and it was one of my favorite projects that I ever worked on. One of the things that made it special is that everyone was very passionate about his or her particular roll. I had subsequently reconnected with him several times over the years, but he now has a young daughter, is a single dad, and always bemoaned the fact that he didn't have room in his life to make music anymore. Then as I was sitting last night, thinking about how I was going to recreate this article, I got a text with a picture of a mixing board and a drum machine telling me that this most difficult time over the past year had led him back to his true love of making music and how excited he was. And I, in turn, became excited thinking about the possibility of working together again and how we could support each other. And that excitement brought me full circle in my reason for writing this article. Maybe my first draft was purged from my computer by unseen forces because I was thinking too small in terms of self-care.

Accounting is a Caretaking Profession

Admittedly, the accounting profession is not one that often first comes to mind when most people think of caretaking professions. We think of nurses. We think of doctors, teachers and adult caregivers. We might even think of firemen. But most people think of accountants more as esoteric technicians – more akin to lawyers than nurses.

Yet, ask any one of us who has ever sat across the table from a brand-new business owner who has that deer in the headlights look in his eyes, or a seasoned business owner who all of a sudden finds herself going through a divorce and doesn't know which way to turn. More recently, we've likely all met someone who needs answers about how to get through the pandemic, whether they should borrow money, whether they're going to be able to make it, and how they're supposed to get by. We’ll tell you how much more there is the accounting profession than simply crunching numbers.

As a certified coach of neuro-linguistics programming and timeline therapy, I have a very unique lens into the way imprinted beliefs affect every business owner's relationship with money. And I have the utmost respect for my colleagues, who, in addition to keeping up with changing regulations, continuing education, software updates, and all of the other things that are required to deliver our profession in a state of excellence, make a constant and concerted effort to learn how to best communicate with each client and steer them in the right direction with regards to their financial futures. I want you all to know I see you. And I see how changing laws, deadlines and client situations have piled on top of the already enormous stress that many of us are feeling in general at the very fact of living through this tumultuous year.

Take Time to Make Time

There was meme that went viral on social media and said, “The dumbest purchase I ever made was a 2020 planner.” I get it. My favorite hashtag of 2020 is definitely #TIMESOUP.  That said, I have found my planner more important than ever. I started a routine of getting up early every morning to meditate, journal and walk or stretch. I set aside a time for meetings and also a time NOT for meetings. And a time NOT for working. I put in family time and time for music and time for not taking calls. Otherwise, I started to feel like a was getting sucked into 2020's amorphous grasp. I started to think, at least if I’m working, I’m doing something useful, right? Wrong.

With all of the other things I have thought about and talked about in this article (I would love to talk about them more if you want to FB message the QuickBooks Dr!), I keep coming back to that text. I have seen several colleagues in our professions give away their time and energy and attention only to one day die at their desk without making it to that retirement they always dreamed about. If there is one gift I think 2020 has given us, it’s an opportunity to look at what our real priorities are. Clearly, on a political and global health level, this is happening. But it's also occurring on a personal level. Please do get adequate sleep, nutrition and water. That’s very important. Please meditate or do yoga or go for walks. But even if you don’t do any of those things, promise me you will look into the mirror tonight and thank the badass who helped so many terrified businesses and individuals get through the 2020 tax season. And then, promise that you will treat yourself to your very own celebration. Make this holiday season a time for true joy. Maybe you love to crochet or dance salsa or bake. Find a video or tutorial or an online group and go for it. Not everyone needs to go out and buy a drum machine. But if you do, do it. Do it now.

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