Christian Living

Family Matters 04/14/11

Is Tax Season Stressing You Out?

Happy birthday to my nephew Chris who has the distinction of being born on tax day!

Speaking of taxes, have you completed yours and mailed them to the IRS? Are you feeling stressed by the process, money owed, or last minute post office run? Actually, you get a break this year and have until Monday April 18 at midnight because April 15 is the celebration of Emancipation Day, a Washington D.C. holiday.

Like some during this season, Ron is feeling tax stress. He procrastinated once again. With the deadline to file his return around the corner, the pressure makes him irritable and anxious. He is demanding help from his wife who isn’t available because of her schedule. So late into the evenings, Ron is frantically scrambling to finish his taxes and making his wife miserable.

If you feel stressed like Ron, here are a few coping tips. Understand that successful stress coping involves using the resources you have.

First, identify your resources.

What do you have available to help you? Think about tangible things -- support, money, time, power, status, influence -- and those more internal things such as faith in God, confidence, patience, prayer, etc. How will you use what’s available? What strengths do you have that will help the situation?

Second, use one of two major coping strategies.

1. Take direct action to change the stressful situation.
2. Rethink the situation. For example, is there a positive side of stress? What can you learn and how can you grow? (A combination of both strategies can be used.)

Ron could easily go a number of ways based on the strategies above. Next time, he could start his tax preparation a month or two ahead of the deadline. Taking more time to compile the needed information would relax him and make him less irritable around his wife.

This simple, intentional change would put on end to his procrastination pattern. 

Most people learn coping strategies from their families. They watch how family members handle times of stress and model their behavior. The good news is that you can learn new ways to cope. If you have learned dysfunctional coping styles (e.g., procrastination) from your family, you are not destined to do the same. Just recognize the pattern and make changes. So that next time the pressure is on, you will not be so stressed!

PROMO: Dr. Linda Mintle will be doing a Live Webinar for the Extraordinary Women Leadership Series on Monday, April 18 from 6-9 p.m. Register and earn CEU credits if you are a counselor or lay minister.