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4 Weird Ways to Keep Your Sanity This Coming Busy Season

busy season stress

Busy season stress is no joke. When it hits and those 60-hour work weeks start piling up, where do you turn? You could (and probably will) drain every last drop out of the company coffee pot or slam green energy drinks composed of dubious ingredients.

You’ll probably take a few Office Space-style breaks along the way—you know, zone out and stare at your computer screen for 20 minutes. And that’s all fine, but maybe it’s time to try something new this year.

You’re probably well familiar with all the traditional ways to stay sane during this decidedly not-sane time of year: exercise, eating well, etc. And yes, I’m sure you’re trying to NOT think about busy right now, but how can you not? So to get ready, here are a few options from the realm of the bizarre that might take the edge off.

Take comfort in the war stories of your elders

“It was 1974, and the air reeked of graphite and shame.”

As bad as busy season stress is now, make no mistake, it used to be worse. We tend to take our technological comforts for granted, but it wasn’t that long ago that pencils and 10-key calculators were the only tools of the trade.

If there are older associates at your firm, take some time to ask them about the busy seasons of years’ past. You might realize things aren’t as bad as they seem, or at least get a few laughs. If nothing else, the older associates at your firm may shed some light on some busy season stress relievers you won’t find on lists like these.

Beat the crap out of something

You’ve surely heard that exercise is a great way to relieve work stress. But here’s a specific (and proven) workout option you might not have considered: Boxing.

Pummeling a heavy bag, or if you’re brave, a sparring partner, transfers your anxieties and animosity from inside your head and into a real object.

The loud smack of each hit drowns out the numbers and calculations of the day. The focus required to improve timing and push through tiredness erases negative thinking. And after the beat down, as oxygen returns to your muscles, you’ll feel rejuvenated and ready for anything.

Do something backwards

Using your non-dominant hand strengthens neural connections in your brain, and even creates new ones. When I was but a college student, I had a teacher who gave us an exercise along these lines. We were told to write using our non-dominant hand continuously for five minutes without stopping to think about anything.

My result, a story about a penguin who travels to a distant galaxy to apply for a bank loan, certainly wasn’t worth publishing. But the exercise still proved helpful—afterwards I felt relaxed and open, as if ideas could now pass more easily through my brain.

You can do just about anything with your non-dominant hand to achieve similar results, but here are a few ideas for your consideration:

  • Brush your teeth
  • Putt a golf ball
  • Drink a glass of water
  • Draw a picture
  • Sign your name

Blow up a bunch of balloons and bat them around the office

Yes, we’re serious. Not only are balloons inherently fun, blowing them up will force you to take deep breaths, a proven stress reliever. Playing your own little game of balloon office volleyball is also guaranteed to make people around you laugh, which will activate endorphins and pleasure centers in both your brain and theirs. Just be careful not to hit your boss in the face.

One firm that does busy season right

As we said earlier, we’ve found a firm that does a great job of keeping busy season stress low, and they’re hiring now.

Based in San Francisco and focusing on taxes and business services, CPA firm Murray, Stok & Company is possibly best known for its commitment to using the latest technology to improve employee and client satisfaction.

“For a firm our size, we’re pretty technologically leveraged,” says Mike Stok, partner. “It almost feels like we’re the Minority Report version of accounting, with multiple next-gen applications running on everyone’s screen.”

What you might not read on the company website, however, is how the firm goes to great lengths to keep employees happy during busy season.

“There’s laughter in the office. There’s camaraderie,” says Chris Murray, partner.

An ongoing jigsaw puzzle in the break room provides a much needed mental escape. Management provides food with different themes each day, holds contests and “calculator races,” schedules tabletop football and darts tournaments, and takes the team out for drinks after exceptionally long work days.

“If you have to spend a lot of time at work, it should be a fun place to be,” says Stok. “Not everything about the work is always going to be fun, but we don’t think the office should be a place our people dread going to.”

The firm is always thinking of new ways for the team to let loose, like a recent visit to an escape room. One year it held a contest where employees had to identify each other from baby pictures. Management is open to suggestions for new activities for busy season stress relief, and if enough workers request something, they’ll probably do it.

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