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How to Overcome Decision Fatigue

Updated: Nov 25, 2021

Do you find yourself exhausted at the end of the day, unable to decide what to have for dinner or what to watch on tv? There is a name for this - decision fatigue.

We go through life making hundreds of decisions daily. Some decisions are big, while many are relatively small. Yet, even the small decisions add up and take a toll on our mental health, especially if we are not considering ourselves in those decisions.

If you spend your days putting others ahead of yourself - work, kids, partner, parents - you likely make choice after choice that is best for everyone around you. In this way, women keep the world spinning, yet too often we don’t take into account that self care and consideration are vital to our ability to keep going and maintain our health.

While it may not always be appropriate to consider ourselves in every decision, there are many where it is important and necessary to do so in order to prevent the detrimental effects of decision fatigue - procrastination, impulsivity, avoidance, indecision, and, ultimately, increased stress and anxiety.

Anyone can experience decision fatigue, but it is especially common in public servant professions that are traditionally dominated by women. Hello, teachers and nurses!

If this all sounds familiar to you, there is good news. Decision fatigue can be managed and reduced by doing the following:

Be Mindful

The first and most important step to beating decision fatigue is to be aware that it is happening. Adopt a mindfulness practice to help you recognize when you are reaching your decision threshold.

Schedule Time for Self Care

When you recognize yourself becoming overwhelmed and unable to make even small decisions, it is time to schedule in some additional self care time. Self care that is simple and doesn’t require a great deal of thought or choice is ideal. Getting a massage or attending a workout class where you simply follow directions the instructor is giving you are great options to give your mind a break from making choices.

Communicate with Your Partner / Support System

Increasing communication with your partner or support system during decision fatigue can be a key element in reducing stress and gaining the break you so desperately need from making choices. To do this, make sure you explain what decision fatigue is, how you’re experiencing it, and exactly what you need in terms of support. Your request for support can be as simple as requesting your partner choose what restaurant to go to or as complex as planning out the kids schedule for the week.

Establish Routines

One surefire way to reduce the amount of choices you need to make on a daily basis is to build routines into your schedule. Deciding what to eat for breakfast each day or what route to take to work are small choices but add to your decision quota nonetheless. To eliminate this choice, develop routines like eating the same breakfast each morning or picking out your clothes for each day of the week on Sunday night.

Make Big Decisions Early

Big decisions take more mental and emotional stamina than smaller choices. It is best to make these types of choices early in the day, before you are already fatigued by a slew of smaller decisions that naturally occur throughout the day. So, next time you have to decide to quit your job, take that promotion, or sell your house try to think through the situation and make the final decision mid morning.

Consider Yourself

Many decisions we make have little to do with ourselves. At work, much of what we do involves making decisions that will benefit a client or company. At home, we make decisions that keep our loved ones safe and healthy. Yet, there are many situations in which we have the luxury of multiple options to choose between that can be mutually beneficial. If there are two decent options, go with the one that benefits you as well as the other party. This isn’t selfish, it is necessary.

Work with a Therapist

If you are struggling under the weight of decisions and find yourself highly stressed or anxious, it may be time to reach out for help. A counselor can help you to sort through decisions, prioritize choices, and build a holistic self care plan that prevents decision fatigue from occurring.

If you could use help managing stress or decision fatigue, complete the HerTime contact form or text (720)255-1667 to set up a teletherapy appointment.

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