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Professional Well-being

For Tax & Legal Professionals, Managing Stress Starts (and Ends) with Your Senses

Lauren Baptiste  Executive Wellness Coach / Acheloa Wellness

Lauren Baptiste  Executive Wellness Coach / Acheloa Wellness

According to the American Institute of Stress, 66% of Americans cited work as a significant source of stress and 80% of workers say they feel stress on the job.

And in the accounting and legal industries, professionals are commonly working 50-plus hour weeks all year long. During busier times, that weekly number can inflate to 70-plus hours, leaving hard-working professionals feeling constantly depleted, disoriented, and burnt-out.

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

According to the evidence-based science of Ayurveda, the components of health are comprised of 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, but we are less open to discussing the effect of misused senses. Improper use of the sensory organs can create discomfort in the mind (i.e., anxiety, fear, feelings of being overwhelmed) and disease in the body (i.e., bloating, constipation, twitching, headaches). Without changing our habits to align better with positive sensory use, these smaller challenges have the potency to grow into larger physiological or psychological diseases.

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 more ease at work.

Hearing

Sound might be one of the most powerful senses in comparison to 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.”

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 within 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 (e., raw sesame); and
  • 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 are sharing with co-workers, friends, and loved ones. If you’re surrounded by hard, rough, and sharp sounds, consider using 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 sensory organ.

In Vedic philosophy, 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, compared to one from an episode of Hoarders, with piles of unused junk exploding throughout the 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 or toss it;
  • Consider adding visually appealing decorations, such as a plant or photo 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; and
  • 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 breathe deeply during this mini-workout.

Reflection

Assess your workspace. Without judgement, how can you create a more visually peaceful environment? Given all the time you spend working in that space, 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 nutritional direction. Although satisfying in the moment, those indulgent foods have an adverse effect on your energy level and productivity.

Recommendations

  • Eat meals away from your phone or computer screen;
  • Use each meal as a mindful meditation. Notice the qualities, tastes, smells, and textures of the food;
  • Put down your fork or 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 (e., soups, stews, vegetarian meals, homecooked foods); and
  • Create a list of go-to places with healthy options in the event you have to order out. When we curate our own menus, we’re less likely to be 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?

Making changes

When stressors are at their highest, professionals feel the urge to make a significant life change. As I observed after working with clients for years, 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 using these simple shifts to uplift your mood, productivity, and overall well-being. By learning to nourish your sense organs, you can stress less, achieve more, and create an environment where you and your fellow employees can thrive. It might be just that easy.

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