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Feeling Extra Exhausted Lately? It Might Be Decision Fatigue

A woman holding her glasses and rubbing the bridge of her nose while sitting at a desk.
G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock

We tend to think of exhaustion in terms of physical work, staying up too late, or otherwise burning up our energy reserves in obvious ways. But the very act of making decisions can wear us out.

What Is Decision Fatigue?

Decision fatigue is nothing new, and people who multitask (or try to, anyway) probably already have a grasp of this tiring concept. At its core, decision fatigue is exactly what it sounds like—exhaustion from making too many decisions.

While most of us like that we have so many choices—from multiple streaming channels to various types of apples—when we spend too much time making those choices, it gets tiring. And if you’re on a deadline to make a bunch of choices, it can drain your energy even quicker.

Decision Fatigue During the Global Pandemic

The reason decision fatigue is a big topic right now is that, while many of us are at home with a few months off work, we have even more choices to make.

It might seem paradoxical that we have more decisions to make while, on the surface, it appears we’d be doing fewer things since we’re stuck at home. But a sudden shift in routine creates hundreds of tiny decisions to make as a result of the disruption in our daily lives. We’re also busy wondering what the future holds, which is a draining place for our minds to be, as well.

Should you leave the house today to get groceries? That question usually comes with decisions about where to shop. These days, though, you have to wonder where it’s safest to shop, and decide if the trip is worth it when the store might be out of the stuff you need.

A woman shopping at a store with a mask and gloves on.
Eldar Nurkovic/Shutterstock

Maybe you have to find an alternative job or career path because your job might not come back after the pandemic. Perhaps you’re trying to decide if this is the right time to buy a car or a house, move to a new state, or get married.

These are always life-altering decisions, but now, you also have to weigh in the potential of contracting or spreading coronavirus. You have to check on travel restrictions, whether your realtor is an essential worker, or decide if you’re okay with getting married if your whole family can’t be there.

How to Manage Decision Fatigue

Decision fatigue during a global pandemic might be a little different than it is when the world’s running at its normal pace. However, the following tips should help you battle decision fatigue at any time:

  • Give yourself fewer decisions to make: Not sure what to make for dinner? Give yourself two solid options instead of trying to pick from everything you have in the fridge. It might sound silly, but by rejecting every possibility but A or B, you reduce the mental fatigue of trying to decide between options A through Z.
  • Let someone else make the decisions: Handing the reins over to someone else sometimes can lessen the pressure you put on yourself. Whether it’s a work or life decision, lean on co-workers, friends, or your significant other when you need a break from deciding.
  • Schedule your day: Setting a schedule for what you want to accomplish each day can help reduce the number of decisions you have to make that day. You’ll have a list and know what you need to do. This is a great way to break up household chores and other projects you might be working on during your time off.
  • Take a nap: A strategically planned and executed afternoon nap can help you fight off all kinds of stress and exhaustion, including decision fatigue. For more information, check out how to nap for optimal health benefits.

Decision fatigue is a valid reason for feeling exhausted. When you consciously reduce the number of decisions you have to make each day, it can help you reduce stress and get your energy back!

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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