Tackling tax season
Spinning stressful events into positive situations.
Juice Staff Published: 4/4/2019
Marriage, divorce, new baby, a death in the family, moving, losing a job, starting a new job, holiday season and taxes.
What do these situations all have in common?
They’re all social stressors. “We all face these in life when there is any high activity event that puts a demand on our time and resources,” said Anna Maria Genotti, a board-certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner with Baptist Behavioral Health.
Stressing over finances, in particular, can wreak havoc on our health. A survey released last year by the American Psychiatric Association showed finances are playing an increased role in people’s anxiety.
But there are simple steps you can take to handle life’s unexpected changes or even planned events like tax season or relocating to a new city.
1. Take a deep breath. Recognize the situation for what it is.
“People get so caught up in the cycle of projecting concerns about the stressful event that they then forecast ahead and start catastrophizing (believing something is far worse than it is),” Genotti said. “Your mind starts spinning and projecting all the worst-case scenarios, and you don’t see the actual situation and possible solutions.”
For example, if you lose your job, the reality is you've likely had other jobs in the past. Therefore, the possibility exists even in your personal history that you'll have another job again.
“It will take time and effort, but you have to be an active participant in your solution,” said Genotti.
2. Set a goal with a timeline.
“Set your own deadline a little before an actual deadline that stresses you out, like tax season. Make sure you have that breathing space so you know you have met your goal and achieved it before the deadline,” Genotti said.
3. Evaluate if you need help.
If you are not going to achieve this goal on your own, do you need help? Do you need someone to help you with budgeting, for example? Is it going to take more effort or knowledge than what you know how to do? If you are struggling, in general, to pay your bills, is there other funding, financial counseling or support available.
“Resources exist for various support needs, but you need to recognize you need the help and ask,” Genotti added.
4. Prepare for next year.
Get through your current situation and prepare for next year. “Use this as a perfect motivation so you don’t end up in the same situation next year,” Genotti said. For your taxes or a financial situation you may be facing, ensure you are prepared. Start a folder and keep receipts for next year, evaluate your payroll deductions, build up your savings. Set phone calendar reminders to keep you on track all year long.
5. Set a reward goal.
Recognize what you have achieved and set a measurable goal for next year. If you owed taxes this year, set a goal not to owe or to owe less next year. If you want to buy a new car, go to New York City or take a cruise, these can be motivators to get your finances in proper order.
“You can spin stressful events into positive situations instead of being unprepared and getting caught into a cycle of only seeing the negative aspects,” Genotti said.
6. Take another deep breath.
“Stress is all about how you perceive a situation,” Genotti said. “Change is uncomfortable and change is scary. But if you recognize that the same situation and same solution aren’t resulting in the desired goal you want to achieve, you might have to be a more active participant in order to bring about that positive change and to meet your goal.”
If you’re having problems coping with life stresses, Baptist Behavioral Health specialists can provide personalized care that fits your needs. For more information, visit baptistjax.com/services/behavioral-health or reach a patient coordinator at 904.376.3800. The 24-hour crisis line is 904.202.7900.