How to tackle tax season without turning to Twinkies

There’s a great quote by Benjamin Franklin about nothing being certain in this world except for death and taxes. Well, since it’s April and there’s no sign of the hooded guy with the scythe, today’s blog must be about taxes.

They’re due right around the corner — April 15.

taxes4I’ll admit that in some respects I’m a little spoiled. I tried to do my own taxes like once, many years ago. It was a fiasco. In my defense: Dammit Jim (Star Trek shout out!), I’m a writer, not a mathematician!

My dad is a retired CPA, so he did my taxes until I married (except that one year, and he ended up doing it in the end anyway). My husband was using an excellent tax preparer to do his taxes, so we continued to use her after we got married. And when she retired, we gratefully accepted my dad’s offer to do our taxes. So for me, tax season isn’t such a big thing.

But this doesn’t mean I have no sympathy for people who groan and stress when tax season approaches. It’s around this time when they regret their disorganization, procrastination, and any other word that ends with –ation. I have a friend who routinely asks the IRS for a deadline extension. Others will just doggedly plow through until they finish, then pour themselves a stiff drink (or two).

We all know that when the going gets tough, our healthy habits can be derailed. Stress, lack of sleep, and overwork can make our health suffer. We may skip our workouts and seek comfort foods to escape from our W-2 blues.

Well, you’ve come to the right blog. We’ve compiled a host of tips to help you emerge unscathed at the other end of the scary tax season tunnel. So pick up your receipts and forms from the floor, take your pen from behind your ear, and read on.

taxes3Procrastination and your taxes is never a good combination, yet many can’t seem to stop procrastinating. We made it our first list rather than our last, because we wanted to set a good example for our readers.

Create your own deadline. Pick a date that’s earlier than the official tax deadline. Your smartphone can help you with this, but I also like to use simpler tools like a wall calendar or a mini whiteboard. And remember that the sooner it’s done, the sooner you can relax.

Break it down. Divide the work in steps or chunks of work. For example, you can designate Tuesday for gathering tax forms, Wednesday for organizing receipts, and Thursday for itemizing charitable donations.

Ask a friend or relative to be your tax season buddy. Similar to a support system for recovering alcoholics, you can keep tabs on each other until you’ve both filed your taxes.

Even if you don’t procrastinate, doing your taxes isn’t the easiest or most enjoyable pastime. Here are some tips to stay sane while doing your taxes.

• Take a short “me” break every so often.

• Keep eating healthy and don’t skip meals.

• Keep hydrated.

• Use comfortable, ergonomic furniture.

• Get up and stretch every half hour.

taxesSpeaking of eating healthy, we know that stress and anxiety can make you crave less than healthy foods to feed your emotions. To help you against the dark forces of pastries and pizza, here are some healthy foods that can buffer your tax-induced stress.

Whole grains, like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, and popcorn will stick with you longer than processed white flour foods and will boost your serotonin to help you keep calm.

Dark, leafy greens contain folic acid, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals to ease stress and improve your mood.

Berries are rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to help combat stress.

Oysters (yes, oysters) are full of zinc, which can help calm you down.

Walnuts have omega-3 fatty acids that can hold down your cortisol and adrenaline levels. (Cortisol is a hormone that rises when you’re stressed.)

And with that, we leave you to your task, mighty tax warrior! Procrastination, stress, and Twinkies – your foes of last year are no longer a threat. Laugh, for you will be victorious. Um, but don’t dilly-dally, time is running out to get it all done.

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