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February 8, 2023

How to Cope With Post-Busy Season Depression

When busy season ends, it takes time for many accountants to adjust to the 40ish-hour workweek again.

For those of you who don't suffer from the martyrdom complex the return to a somewhat normal life is a welcome change. But for others, there are different feelings:

My brain told me a lot of lies when I was working in an accounting firm. Among them:

  • Keep working, you're doing great;
  • Eating at your desk will save time;
  • My performance rating is important;
  • Those Nature Valley Bars in the vending machine are healthy;
  • Drinking alcohol to cope with stress is fine;
  • Your manager really appreciates this.

But I never recall thinking, "I'm sad now that I have my life back." Granted, some accountants are depressed in general, but that's another matter entirely. But now that I think about it, something else could be at play here: good ol' fashioned boredom:

[S]tudies have found that too little stress can be bad. Stress related to boredom leads employees to engage in counterproductive work behavior, such as spending aimless time on the Internet for non-work reasons, gossiping about colleagues, and taking way too much time completing work assignments.

As for how to deal with boredom (assuming that's the problem), there is no shortage of ideas on the web to help you cure that. My personal favorite being Lifehacker's "Take more web browsing breaks." The arguably more productive "Learn a new skill" is good too.

However, #2 — "Embrace your boredom: It fosters creativity" is what ended up working for me best. When I was bored in my public accounting days, I read. A lot. All that reading (i.e. web browsing) led to me blogging which led to this job that I'm doing right now. In a way, boredom totally changed my life. Now I don't have time to be bored.

So, I get it. Sometimes when things are slow, there is a creeping sensation that you're not doing enough or that you're about to be put out to pasture. That's depressing! But keeping yourself busy in some way — any way — will help keep your mind off not not being busy anymore.

Who's dying inside without busy season? How do you deal with it? Consider this your therapy session. Talking helps, too.

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