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Here’s how to reduce stress and get your taxes done

Navigating tax season involves more than just paperwork; it often brings heightened stress and anxiety about financial matters for many individuals.

Financial stress during tax season can manifest in various ways, from procrastination in filing taxes to overwhelming anxiety about potential errors. If you’re feeling financially stressed right now, you’re not alone.

“Many Americans experience significant stress during tax times, which often ties into broader financial stress,” noted financial wellness expert Joyce Marter.

Despite the common belief that emotions and money don’t mix, they frequently intersect and impact each other, emphasized Lindsay Bryan-Podvin, a financial therapist and founder of Mind Money Balance.

Here are some expert recommendations to help reduce financial stress during tax season while ensuring your taxes are filed on time:

  1. Don’t Procrastinate, Plan Ahead Financial stress can persist year-round, but tax season imposes a specific deadline that can be daunting. While some people find deadlines motivating, others may feel overwhelmed and avoid dealing with their finances altogether, according to Dr. Tanya Farber, a psychologist at McLean Hospital.

    Instead of prolonging the stress by filing for an extension, Farber advises creating a detailed plan to tackle taxes step-by-step. Start by gathering all necessary documents—like W-2s, 1099 forms, and records of savings and investments—ahead of time. Breaking down tasks into manageable steps and scheduling specific times to complete them can build momentum and ease anxiety.

    You can find tax checklists online to ensure you have everything you need for your specific situation.

  2. Confront Your Fears Anxiety about filing taxes often stems from fear—whether it’s the fear of making mistakes or owing more than expected, says Farber. To manage this anxiety, she suggests evaluating whether your fears are likely to come true.

    “Anxiety peaks when we assume the worst-case scenario,” Farber explains. Discussing these fears with a trusted friend or family member, as recommended by Bryan-Podvin, can provide perspective and alleviate unnecessary worry.

  3. Prioritize Self-Care Bryan-Podvin emphasizes the importance of increasing self-care activities during tax season, such as taking walks, spending time with pets, or ensuring adequate sleep. These activities can help alleviate stress and restore emotional balance during challenging times.

    “Engaging in restorative activities creates a toolbox of coping skills,” adds Farber, which are crucial when dealing with stressful situations like tax filing.

  4. Seek Support Don’t hesitate to reach out for support from others, whether it’s consulting a tax professional or confiding in a knowledgeable family member about financial concerns. According to Marter, discussing finances openly can provide valuable resources and remove feelings of shame or isolation.

    Proactively seeking support can also prevent last-minute stress if you’re filing close to the deadline.

Remember, if you’re facing mental health challenges during tax season or at any time, there are resources available to help:

  • 211: Dial to speak confidentially with a mental health expert for free.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Crisis Text Line: Text the word ‘Home’ to 741-741.
  • The Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQ Youth: 1-866-488-7386.
  • The Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860.

Taking proactive steps to manage financial stress during tax season can lead to a smoother experience and better overall well-being.

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