Decision fatigue: a contributor to anxiety and overwhelm

March 19, 2019
adelaide counsellor

Are you feeling overwhelmed? Do you often feel so foggy you can’t even decide what to cook for dinner? Perhaps you have piles of paperwork waiting for you to deal with “one day” when you feel clear enough to know where it all belongs. If any of these are sounding vaguely familiar, there’s a possibility you may be suffering from decision fatigue.

In today’s fast paced, “addicted to busy” world, we are constantly met with a deluge of decisions, exponentially more than previous eras. You may argue that most of your decisions are insignificant and fleeting and that surely the woman at the fast food drive through asking ‘would you like fries with that?’ isn’t contributing to your overwhelm or fogginess. But, maybe, she is?

All decisions are the same

decision fatigue

Neurologically, the brain does not discern between committing to marriage or committing to cleaning your car. The brain has no hierarchy between major decisions and minor ones. They all equally result in internal pressure and overwhelm, which is commonly known as decision fatigue. Decision fatigue leads to poorer quality decision making, decision avoidance, mental depletion, impulse purchases and overwhelm. Research demonstrates that court judges make poorer decisions by the end of the day.

The part of us that we employ to make decisions is working overtime constantly. Just in the seemingly simple act of keeping us in the world. Not to mention having to decide on the minutia of navigating our day to day world and our working lives.

One way of coping with our modern existence and the continual input exposure is by consciously limiting the number of decisions we have to make. Especially in areas that we can control.

For example, the late Steve Jobs was known for his uniform (known as a capsule wardrobe) of tshirts or turtlenecks and jeans.His outfit was preplanned, it automatically cut down on the amount of decisions he had to make each morning. Barack Obama famously does the same thing.

If you’ve been following my enewsletter, you’d have read that I practise Project 333. It’s an initiative by simplicity guru Courtney Carver. Which encourages you to only have 33 items of clothes (including jewellery, handbags and shoes) for each season. The point of this practice is also to simplify and eliminate excess decisions. Leaving enough brain power for those more important and involved decisions.

Although we may be able to limit some of our decisions, we still encounter a lot of input that needs discernment and decisions made. And, ultimately, for a lot of people, this culminates in decision fatigue.

decision fatigue and overwhelm

Discover how to combat decision fatigue in the full article here.

I have a lot of empathy and understanding for people that experience this almost debilitating state. If you would like support in creating and implementing strategies to deal with decision fatigue,  book a counselling session today. 

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