Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Staying Healthy During the Busy Season

The Accountant’s last post was about a PWC employee who died during the last busy season. I’m not going to go into who’s at fault and who’s not. Instead, I’d rather go into why it is important and how to stay healthy during the busy season.

Personally, I think the most important thing during the busy season is maintaining one’s good health - not the firm, not your partner, not your manager and not even your client. Stay healthy during the busy season and everything will just fall into place.

But then again, saying the above is one thing, actually achieving it is another. A lot of things can happen, a lot of factors can come into play and you can just say goodbye to an A+ health and hello to a weak, sickly body (and worse, succumb to your illness).

So how do you stay healthy during all those weeks (and months) of stress, overtime, week-end work, angry partners / managers / clients, tight deadlines, pressures, etc.? After listing all these, it sounds like a daunting task, right? And it is one but you can actually go through all of them and come out of the tax busy season still of sound mind and body. I should know, I’m not bragging, but I did survive 13 years of busy season and I intend to live long enough to experience 13 more.

First of all, you should be sensitive to your body’s needs. When it says stop working, stop working. When it says you need some fresh air, take a 15 minute walk somewhere where you can breathe in fresh air. Most of all, when it says get some rest, by all means, get some rest.

Second, if you feel something’s wrong with your body, go see a doctor (or at least a qualified nurse). I can’t count the number of times I went to my former employer’s resident nurse to have my blood pressure taken because I was feeling dizzy or felt pain at the back of my head or had the symptoms of someone with high blood pressure. And when your doctor says you need rest or you need to take some time off, have him or her draw up a letter or something in writing that you can show to your boss as proof that you need that rest. When my doctor told me I need to have a simple but necessary operation and that I need a one week rest (in the middle of the busy season, I might add), I immediately asked my boss to grant me a one – week leave and he immediately agreed to it. Just make sure you make up for the lost time when you get back to work.

Third, eat healthy. I’ve heard of one manager who just keeled over right after the busy season because he loved eating fatty foods and foods that are not, shall we say, conducive to good health. Added to that the sleepless nights and all those pressures and he was a walking time bomb that just blew up after everything was over. I know it’s very tempting to eat everything in sight during the busy season, especially if you feel that this is your only outlet for all those stress and pressure you experience but please, learn to say no and stick to a healthy diet.

Fourth, exercise. Go out for a short walk every night. If you’re fortunate enough to be assigned to a client that has a gym in its premises (I had one like that before) and you are allowed to use it for free, go ahead, take advantage of it. If not, find some other way to get that exercise. I had a manager before whose favorite exercise was to go down and go up a flight of stairs (he covers like 10 floors or something) in our office every night. He kept his body trim during the busy season, it doesn’t take so much of his time plus it’s free!

Fifth, grab whatever sleep you can. If you are one of those who can take a 30 – minute nap during lunch time, find a quite place where you can take this nap. 30 minutes of napping will not hurt your work (or your deadline) and, when you wake up, it does wonders for your state of mind and body and for the quality of your work. At night time, get as much sleep as you can. I used to have a manager who, from the time she was still a staff, made it a point to sleep at least 5 hours every night. Her only exception was during the last 2 weeks before the deadline but before that? Try making her stay longer in the office and you won’t really like the results.

Lastly, prioritize your health. Oh yes, I know your boss will not like this at all but, at the end of the day, the state of your health has a direct impact on the quality of your work and whether you get things done on time or not. After everything is said and done, you and you alone can determine if your body and mind are still sound enough to let you do your job. Nobody really dies if your work is not finished on time, please remember that. And if your boss or manager tells you otherwise, then just think about this, nothing is more important than staying healthy, especially during the busy season.


  1. Last busy season I did a workout routine in my living room when I got home from work, not every day but 3 times a week or so and it really helped. I didn't have to go anywhere to do it and it took about 45 mins-1 hour every night, worked really well.

  2. D:

    Now I'm scared to start my articling hours...

  3. I cannot believe someone has actually died from busy season... where's the news article on this?

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  6. I recently join new office and its being hard for me to adjust in this new environment and people, i am bit stressed out which is affecting my health. Thanks for sharing this tips.

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