5 min read

Managing stress starts and ends with your senses

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In the accounting industry, professionals are commonly working 50+ hour weeks all year long. During busier times, however, that weekly number can inflate to 65-70+ hours, leaving hard-working professionals feeling constantly depleted, disoriented and burnt-out. According to the American Institute of Stress, 66% of Americans cited work as a significant source of stress and 80% of workers feel stress on the job.

Given its relevance and spreading effect on the workplace, we need simple ways to reduce stress in our daily lives. It can be challenging amid the passive-aggressive emails and back-to-back meetings, but you have the power to create a positive (or negative) working environment. 

According to the evidence-based science of Ayurveda, the components of health comprise the body, the mind, the soul and the five senses—hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell. In Western science, we are more comfortable with this connection of mind, body and soul than we once were, but we are yet to discuss the effect of improperly used senses. For example, think about the impact of sitting in a windowless cube for 8+ hours per day under fluorescent lights as the sounds of disgruntled colleagues complaining fill your ears day in and out. Believe it or not, we’re not just an output of the foods we eat. We’re an output of the things we hear and see, too! 

Improper use of the sensory organs can create discomfort in the mind (i.e., anxiety, overwhelm, fear) and dis-ease in the body (i.e., bloating, constipation, twitching, headaches). We see these exact symptoms impacting the accounting profession. With no stop in sight, we can expect an increase in the number of employee sick days, lower employee satisfaction and high turnover… unless we choose to do something different.

Without changing our habits to align with positive sensory use, these smaller challenges have the potency to grow into larger physiological or psychological diseases. Don’t let this happen to you!

In this article, we’ll explore the importance of our primary senses—hearing, sight and taste—and a few simple recommendations. Regardless of how many hours you work or how challenging your job might be, it’s possible to find a better balance of a great career and strong health.

If you’re reading this as you’re wrapping up your busy season, consider incorporating a few of the below suggestions to bring less stress and more joy to your day-to-day. While we can’t avoid the multitude of emails that continuously flow into our inbox, we can be mindful of how we let it impact us!

 

HEARING

Sound might be one of the most powerful senses in comparison to the others. It can be medicine or poison, all depending on what we hear. 

In 2018, IKEA created the Bully A Plant initiative, an in-school experiment where students were shown how destructive negative comments can be. The experiment included two identical plants with identically controlled environments. For one month, students complimented one plant and bullied the other. According to Global News, “after 30 days, the plant that received compliments was healthy and thriving, while its insult-riddled counterpart was wilted and noticeably droopy.”

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Albeit a small example, we can see how powerful words and sounds truly are. The frequency of sound can affect our mood and change the way we think. As a result, sounds can create toxic environments that impact us and those in our vicinity. Our words also have the ability to inspire and empower. There’s a reason why TED Talks and other motivational speakers have gained popularity over recent years. 

Recommendations

  • Listen to soothing sounds, such as peaceful, positive music and nature sounds. 

  • Avoid hearing or participating in rumor, gossip and other negative or jarring sounds. 

  • Take a bath and submerge your ears underwater for a few minutes.

  • Massage your ears with a few drops of a warming oil (i.e., raw sesame).

  • See the good in others and let them know it. By sharing positive words, you are elevating the quality of sound in your ears and those around you. 

Reflection

What is the main frequency of the words you hear: positive or negative? Then ask yourself the frequency of the words you’re sharing with co-workers, friends and loved ones. If you’re surrounded by hard, rough and sharp sounds, consider inviting these simple recommendations. Without significantly altering your daily routine, these suggestions have the power to transform your entire life.

 

SIGHT

We rely on our eyesight as a primary sense. From the moment we wake up, until the moment we’re back in bed, our eyes are open. We’re always looking, analyzing, clarifying and understanding our world through this powerful organ.

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There’s much to say about what we see and its impact on our psyche. Cleanliness is considered one of the main lifestyle observances to live by, as it helps to keep a clear and focused mind. Imagine walking into a home that’s clean and organized, versus one from an episode of “Hoarders,” with piles of unused junk exploding throughout your entire home. Can you notice a difference in your mindset? The same principle applies to your workspace. Even minimal reorganization can have a positive impact.

Recommendations

  • Take a break for a few minutes each hour to look away from your computer and out a window.
  • Declutter your space by removing old junk. If you don’t use it, recycle, donate or toss it.
  • Consider adding visually appealing decorations, such as a sunset from your favorite vacation spot.
  • If your eyes are feeling fatigued by too much screen time, consider misting rose water onto your face or rinsing eyes with cold water.
  • Like any muscle in the body, the eyes need exercise and stretching. Invite gentle movement by closing your eyes and creating smooth circles, as if outlining the edge of a clock. Be sure to reverse the direction and breath deeply during this mini-workout. 

Reflection

Assess your workspace. Without judgment, how can you create a more visually peaceful environment? Given all the time you spend working, it’s worth making a small time or financial investment to create a space that brings you joy. A few minor upgrades can have you feeling more focused and productive.

 

TASTE

Think back to your last busy season. How many hours did you waste each day planning what to eat for dinner? It’s almost as bad as what to watch on Netflix on a Friday night. You can lose hours each day thinking about what to eat and scanning endless menu options. Making matters worse, when the body and brain are exhausted, they are looking for a quick dopamine fix of caffeine, carbs, fried foods and candy, all leading you in the wrong direction. Albeit satisfying in the moment, those indulgent foods have an adverse effect on your energy and productivity. 

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Recommendations

  • Eat meals away from your phone or computer screen.
  • Use each meal as a mindful meditation. Notice the qualities, tastes, smell and textures of the food. 
  • Put down your fork/spoon between bites and chew at least 20 times before swallowing.
  • When feeling especially overwhelmed by stress, consume simple foods that your body can digest more easily (i.e., soups, stews, vegetarian meals, home-cooked foods)
  • Create a list of go-to places with healthy options in the event you have to order out. When we curate our own menu, we’re less swayed by temptation.

Reflection

How we digest our food can be indicative of how we digest our life. If we’re inhaling our food, ask yourself how you’re processing the days that pass by in your life? Are you appreciating and digesting each day, or taking it for granted? Are you able to process your life or are you experiencing emotional indigestion?

When stressors are at their highest, professionals feel the urge to make a significant life change. After working with clients for years, however, a big change usually isn’t required. You don’t have to quit your job or reinvent your life to find the peace you’re looking for. Consider inviting these simple shifts to uplift your mood, productivity and overall well being. By learning to nourish your sense organs, you can destress, achieve more and create an environment where you and your fellow employees can thrive. It might be just that easy.

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BIO

Lauren Baptiste is a Burnout Expert, focused on radically shifting contemporary work culture toward prioritizing emotional, physical and mental health. An international speaker, corporate well-being consultant and coach, Lauren is tackling the pervasive issue of burnout by guiding today’s workforce toward embracing wellness practices at home and in the office. 

After working 11+ years at a Big Four accounting firm and personally experiencing burnout first-hand, Lauren launched Acheloa Wellness. With a mission of empowering professionals to break through the detrimental effects of stress, Lauren brings her experience as a practitioner of Ayurveda, hormonal health and other healing modalities alongside her knowledge of corporate culture, transforming burnout to balance, joy and high-performing productivity.

Lauren offers personal coaching, professional training and workplace consulting for a wide range of clients including financial and professional services organizations. Recent clients include IBM, TD Securities, EY, NFL, Warner Music, Estee Lauder, Standard Chartered Bank and the United Nations. Lauren has been published in many established outlets, such as Forbes, Thrive Global, Medium and Authority Magazine.

Looking for more ways to reduce your stress? Accounting automation can help. Start by automating your firm’s bookkeeping with Botkeeper.

 

Time to get started!

 

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