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Is Decision Fatigue Why You Feel So Worn Out?

A woman sits on a couch with her head in her hands.
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If making the simplest of decisions feels overwhelming lately, you’re not alone. A phenomenon known as decision fatigue is taking hold, and it could explain your stress levels.

Decision fatigue is also known as ego depletion. It happens when there’s an inability to make decisions after doing so multiple times in a short period. Signs of decision fatigue include a constant feeling of being overwhelmed about choices, a lack of emotional balance, impulse decisions, and reactionary (instead of proactive) moments.

Jacqueline Hurst, life coach and author of How to Do You, explained that COVID-19 is likely partially to blame for this phenomenon.

“Many of us spent 18 months in flight, fight, or freeze mode, where everything we knew as ‘certain’ changed overnight,” said Hurst. “The brain likes certainty so, when the pandemic hit, we literally became overwhelmed with adjusting to our new normal.”

Lee Chambers, environmental psychologist and wellbeing consultant, concurred with Hurst on COVID’s impact on our ability to make decisions. He also pointed out that “micro stresses” are the reason for our collective fatigue.

Micro stresses are the many small choices we must make each day in relation to the pandemic, such as considering whether we want to venture out, how to decline invitations to gatherings, or even how to greet people. Turns out, all those tiny decisions create one big stress ball.

Thankfully, there are some ways to combat decision fatigue. Chambers suggested planning ahead as much as possible and not making decisions on an empty stomach, while Hurst recommended practicing self-care.

If you’re more of a planner, just make sure you’re making your to-do list at the right time—no need to add insomnia to the mix.

[Via Harper’s Bazaar]

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »

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