Business of Well-being

The Only Two Guarantees in Life, Stress and Taxes

So April 15th, or tax day, is here, and in the United States that means today is the final day to file your taxes. While the growth of the internet has made the long lines at the post office that news stations loved to cover obsolete, that doesn't diminish the stress many feel today.

The subject of money can be a source of immense stress, causing sleepless nights. According to the American Psychological Association, nearly three-quarters of Americans report money as a major source of stress, so it's not a shock then that many procrastinate to file, only increasing their stress.

The stress associated with tax day is more than anecdotal. There is evidence that up to 8 percent more people will die in a car accident today than non-tax days. This trend even carries over to when tax day falls on the 16th or 17th due to the 15th being on a weekend.

This more than a simple outlier in the data too, the researchers who conducted the study tie the increase in traffic accidents to stressed out motorists, who have taxes taxing their mind.

The danger doesn't end there. Stress raises your blood pressure and increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol and adrenaline in your blood, all of which increase your chance for a heart attack and stroke. There is also emerging evidence that financial stress can double someone's risk of a heart attack, especially among women.

Stress can affect your health beyond just the physical effect of hormones and blood pressure too. We have all had a stressful day that we used to justify that extra scoop of ice cream, not going to the gym to watch TV, or just one quick puff of a cigarette. These coping strategies may seem rewarding at the time, but continually engaging in this behavior is just deducting from your health.

So now that you are sufficiently stressed out about tax day, here are some simple tips to help balance your stress books.

  1. Put things in perspective: More money does not equal less stress. People who earn $40,000 a year have just as much stress as someone who earns $160,000.
  2. Don't focus on the past. You made some mistakes on your taxes this year, you waited to last minute or filed something wrong and have to do again. Don't beat yourself up about it, learn from your mistake and do better next year.
  3. Create a budget and stick to it. Having a financial plan will help keep the stress at bay.
  4. Spend time with friends and family. Social support is crucial to stress relief, so visit with friends, chat and stay active.
  5. We all know the feeling of calm after a workout at the end of a stressful day. There is no reason that it won't work for financial stress.

These tips, along with the knowledge that you won't have to see an H&R Block commercial until 2017, should help get through another stressful tax day. So cheer up and please stay off the road!

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