Tuesday, August 16, 2016

DECISION FATIGUE

Recently, I have been experiencing decision fatigue though I did not realize that this was a "recognized" issue in the population until I used trusty old Google. I have been living with my husband for 21 years and, during that time, he has essentially had me make just about every decision for the household. Many may think this to be the ideal situation as you always get to choose whatever.....dinner, socialization, bill-paying, etc. The truth is that this is exhausting.

According to an article about decision fatigue in the New York Times, "Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy. The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts, usually in either of two very different ways. One shortcut is to become reckless: to act impulsively instead of expending the energy to first think through the consequences. (Sure, tweet that photo! What could go wrong?) The other shortcut is the ultimate energy saver: do nothing. Instead of agonizing over decisions, avoid any choice. Ducking a decision often creates bigger problems in the long run, but for the moment, it eases the mental strain."

I often find myself in either one of these positions. First, I tend to make poor choices as the day and week progress (most alert and refreshed on Monday morning). Second, I will often be so exhausted by Sunday that I can do nothing but eat and watch TV so that I can rest up for Monday and a new week of endless decisions.

Even if you do not have a spouse who "allows" you to make all of the decisions, we are bombarded with so many decisions on a daily basis. There are hundreds of choices of cereal, milk, clothes, schools, routes to work, etc. Have you ever renovated a home? Numerous choices about every aspect - trim, cabinets, colors? 

As an attorney, it is my job to help people make decisions regarding their legal issue. As a healthcare provider, I have to present choices to my clients about the path they would like to take regarding their health. I have to choose what options to present to them so that they can make a choice.

We do not have children but, I recently spent five days with my nieces who are 10 and 9. As is natural, they are curious and have lots and lots of questions. I don't see them often so, I kinda started off the week with a no boundaries, it is all about them kind of attitude. I was exhausted within two days. Parents are constantly having to make decisions and, I see the exhaustion on the faces of many parents. It is important for parents and, everyone to carve out some time where you are not making any decisions. Maybe an hour before bed or first thing in the morning.

We often beat ourselves up when we do not make the correct decisions. Especially if that decision is to have that piece of cake that you swore you would resist. Beating ourselves up often wears us down even more. Instead, be kind to yourself, practice self-love and, know that your lack of "willpower" could just be exhaustion from making decisions all day long