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Inspiring Thoughts from EAC

Beating Decision Fatigue During COVID-19

decisionsBy: Karen Thompson, LMSW, CEAP, CAADC, SAP, EAC Clinical Specialist –

We all deal with making hundreds of decisions every day. Some are small decisions like what to eat for dinner, and other decisions are major ones and have more impact on our lives. The more decisions we make over the course of a day, the more tired our brains become. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, decision-making has become even harder. We are faced with having to weigh the risks and benefits of basic activities.  Things we never had to think twice about before this time. The weight of these choices can be taxing. It can be especially challenging to find the balance between concerns about safety with our need to socialize and continue with our normal life activities. All these decisions create decision fatigue – a term coined by a social psychologist, Roy Baumeister, PhD.

Decision fatigue describes the stress and emotional strain associated with having to make choices every day, resulting in the decline in the quality of decisions.

Common signs of decision fatigue are:

  • Procrastination – putting off making decisions.
  • Impulsivity – making decisions too quickly without careful consideration.
  • Avoidance – choosing to default to the easiest decision or the status quo option.
  • Indecision – going back and forth on decisions or taking longer than usual to make simple decisions.

If you find yourself bogged down by too many decisions, you are not alone.

Here are some specific tips that can help:

  • Reduce the number of decisions you need to make by planning ahead – pack your lunch and plan meals ahead of time, etc.
  • Establish daily routines that put small decisions on autopilot.
  • Tackle big decisions early in the day when your energy and focus is best.
  • Get plenty of sleep – stick to a consistent sleep cycle, as this can improve focus and problem-solving abilities.
  • Don’t second guess your decisions. Once a decision is made, focus on making it a good outcome.
  • Share decision-making with a partner, if possible.
  • Respect other’s decisions during these times, as each person needs to consider his/her own personal comfort level and need for safety.

It is important to note that difficulty making decisions is also one of the symptoms of clinical depression.  If you feel the weight of these decisions is disrupting your well-being, contact EAC to talk to someone on our clinical team. We are here to help!

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