Are you tired of making decisions all the time? Do you feel stuck sometimes? Or maybe always? Does the process of deciding make you anxious? If so, I hear you. And this blogpost is for you if you answered yes to these questions.
Decision making certainly makes me anxious. And it's been this way for quite a while. The more decisions I have to make the worse it gets, because, my brain uses up its resources and eventually I end up either making a stupid choice or don't want to do anything at all (feel stuck). Your brain capacity although impressively large is limited. You get tired or burnt out. And I would like to encourage you to treat your brain power and energy that you have as a precious resource that requires smart management.
How do you manage your brain capacity and don't let it burn out? By using quite simple strategies in your daily life. The only condition would be is that you should be consistent at implementing these strategies. And that’s the hardest part.
1. Limit the amount of information you consume
I have talked about it many times on my blog, you better stop checking the news or any triggering information first thing in the morning and right before you go to sleep. We live in the world where the amount of information we have access to can and does overwhelm us. Many of us work online, so we can’t really avoid overload during the day. The best solution: take control of what you can. Limit your information (that may trigger you) exposure in the morning and at night.
Consuming less information and being more particular about what you watch/read will also help to avoid fear or missing out (knows as FOMO). You can't possibly know everything and ultimately you don't need to, so try to limit the amount of scrolling you do throughout the day and make your time spent online more intentional (choose and subscribe to a few accounts that you really like and stick to watching them aka declutter your social media). I constantly work on catching myself mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds.
2. Have a plan
I am not always perfect at this, but planning the night before is extremely helpful if you have a long to-do list and even if you don't.
We are all in different situations, but decision fatigue and anxiety can be a problem for anyone. Let me explain. If you have a long to-do list you can find yourself overwhelmed in the moment when you actually must do all those things, so prioritizing and structuring your tasks should help.
If you don't have time-pressure and are kind of free to do whatever whenever, you will probably find yourself stressing about wanting to be productive but not knowing where to start. Let a planner become your friend in this situation as well. Come up with a baseline to-do list, that can consist of simple tasks you want to do (nobody will push you to do them, only your planner). For me it's making my bed, unloading a dishwasher, skincare, etc. I work from home and don't usually have assigned tasks, so I have to create them for myself. It helps with decision fatigue if I write them down in my planner.
It's not just about productivity but also about easing anxiety associated with desire to do something with your life. I know we all have been there. When we feel stuck and too much thinking paralyzes us. Learn to cope with that anxiety or even depression by doing even small tasks that don't require too much effort but will still make you feel accomplished.
I try to plan my hobbies as well. If I think I will have time to do something that I do as a hobby, I will put it in my planner, because when the day comes I often forget what I wanted to do, and I tend to stress about it. It's so much easier when it's already planned, and my past me made a decision for me. I can appreciate that.
I have talked about the importance of exercise for our mental health numerous times on my blog. It's one of those habits that you will not (hopefully) question, so it will save you some mental energy. Exercise helps reduce stress hormones and stimulates the production of endorphins, that work in our body as "pain killers" and mood regulators. Who would not want that? Since I suffer from chronic pain, exercise can make my pain worse, so if you have same issue, you will have to be mindful of that. But it's not a reason not to move your body. Walking is a great option for those who don't like any other form of exercise. The goal is to move, not to sit!
If you must make a decision but feel overwhelmed (tired or anxious), go for a walk or do any other form of physical activity. It will help you feel refreshed and ready for the task of decision making.
4. Go for less options
I understand it's quite obvious, but not many of us work on creating the environment of less options for ourselves. I can't always control the amount of options I am exposed to, but to a certain degree I can. One example is that I have just a few stores I normally shop at. And those are the stores with not an overwhelming amount of options. I also usually (not always) know what I am looking for. Good idea is to make a list of things you "need" and shop with intention.
I know for me Black Friday can be overwhelming cos it's just that time of the year when you know you can save some money on products you use, but there can also be so many additional things on sale that may look great for the price but I don't really need. So, I make a list of things I would like to have throughout the year and shop that list on Black Friday. I also usually know what stores to visit. I try not to browse around, looking for deals. It helps me avoid FOMO. I have a rule that I don't buy anything just because it's on sale. I buy what I need, and I try to buy it on sale.
Meditation has become a buzz word, but for everyone it will mean something different. The key is to let your brain rest. It can be hard when your brain is “wired”, so I recommend doing physical activity first (#3) and then meditate. You can use that free time from online scrolling in the evening (#2) for doing something relaxing. Check out my nighttime routine for ideas. Certain breathing techniques and Yoga Nidra may help.
Doing something relaxing before bed will help you have a better sleep, which is essential for stress management.
So, there you are - my tips to avoid decision fatigue and anxiety. Do you have better ideas? Let me know. I will see you next time, on Pillows&Trees.