Busy Season and Wellbeing
As someone looking to get into audit, you’ll hear the phrase ‘busy season’ being thrown around a lot. Once you begin your training at Grant Thornton, it’s almost impossible not to feel the busy season looming, especially in public services, where this dreaded season lasts 3 full months (end of April to July) and you’re essentially working towards it the remaining months. It can get quite intense in your first few years as you’re both learning the job and studying at the same time.
With the volume of work you have to get through, putting in long hours during the evenings and weekends becomes the norm, which can most definitely strain your mental health. As someone constantly struggling with anxiety and depression, I’ve always had the busy season affect my mood and sleep as I struggle to switch off and focus on my mental wellbeing. This, of course, takes its toll on my energy during the day and my focus, which in turn increases my anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle and based on my personal experience, below are a few things I do to keep me from falling back into depression:
- Confide in someone:
During these months, it’s so easy to keep everything to yourself and feed your negative thinking, which I learnt during my first busy season where I was in a hotel for 6 weeks straight, away from my friends and family. But this year, it has been different as I’m on audit teams with people who are going through the same thing. So, talking to them about what I’m going through and what I’m struggling with has helped me greatly. You’ll be surprised how quickly the stress melts away once you’ve ranted to a colleague who’s going through the same thing as you and of course, they’ll give you advice on how to resolve any issues you’re having.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself:
I’m someone who makes endless to-do lists with unrealistic expectations for myself. If you catch yourself setting these impossible standards and you’re falling short each day, it’s a sign that you’re being way too hard on yourself. As a new associate, speak to the senior members of the team to understand what you need to achieve by the end of the day or week, prioritise your list accordingly and in a short time, you’ll notice that you’re getting through your tasks quite quickly. The most important thing you need to do is let yourself make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes and you’re in a firm full of imperfect human beings. So, if you think you’ve done something wrong, speak up early. If you raise the issue early on, your team will rally behind you and help you resolve it.
- Give yourself time and space to switch off:
As I said before, I struggle to stop thinking about all the things I need to do and the consequences if I don’t get it done. This year, I set aside a few hours each day where I can catch up with my friends and family or just allow myself to lie in, watch TV etc. After that, my energy is renewed and my mind is clear, which allows me to focus better at my day job.
More than these little things you can do to support yourself, there are also varying initiatives at Grant Thornton that can help you deal with stress:
- Employee Assistance Programme: a confidential helpline for you to talk about what you’re going through.
- Wellbeing teams: a team in your department or office that’s dedicated to setting up initiatives to improve the employee’s wellbeing (physical and mental).
- In the London Public Services team, during this busy season, we’ve had a team wide work from the office day so that we can all regroup and discuss anything we’ve had issues with or just to catch up with colleagues outside of our individual audit teams. We’ve also set up an audit team specific Steps challenge so the audit team with the highest cumulative steps would win a prize. This is to encourage the team to step outside during the day and to take care of themselves.
- Mental Health First Aid: in some offices, they have a mental health first aider drop in sessions so you can chat with someone about anything that you don’t want to discuss with colleagues or anyone close to you, which is confidential and allows to you express your concerns.
This is just a small list of the amazing initiatives run by GT and the most important thing to take away from this is to speak up. When you start as a Trainee, you have your dedicated buddy and people manager to support you. They’re there for you to express any concerns you may have about work or anything outside of work that might be affecting you.
To wrap up this Mental Health Awareness Week, let me stress one last time that ‘It’s OK Not To Be OK’ and there is a huge variety of support available for you here at Grant Thornton. You just have to ask.
By Reshma Ravikumar