To be overwhelmed or not to be overwhelmed, that is the question. This is no Shakespeare, but considering what we decide to be in certain moments and situations should sometimes feel like a script for a good play.
Being overwhelmed is a common occurrence and interconnected with decision fatigue. This connection leads to a vicious cycle of stress and mental exhaustion. This type of exhaustion has unforeseen negative consequences and will affect the quality of the daily lives of ourselves, our loved ones, and beyond.
Understanding Overwhelm and Decision Fatigue
Decision fatigue is a psychological phenomenon where the quality of decisions deteriorate after a lengthy decision-making session. Nothing is surprising about this understanding of decision-making, but consider how people become mentally drained and start making poor decisions. You see the ripple effects of this type of fatigue. A sign that this is happening is if you have to make too many daily decisions. Sometimes, I feel my brain shifting gears, and the sheer number of daily decisions and how many shifts can lead to being overwhelmed.
How can you break the cycle of what I have coined “the grind” in my professional or personal life? That’s been a big question for me as I build my life professionally and personally with more intention and joy. I still have a grind day here and there, but I recognize them and ensure they are not the norm anymore. I stay busy but look for productivity over busyness in a new way.
The impact on mental and physical health can be damaging if we do not set up ways to recognize overwhelm and decision fatigue. The mental health consequences are increased stress, anxiety, and reduced cognitive function. The physical health consequences can manifest physically, leading to fatigue, sleep disturbances, and chronic health problems.
Strategies for Navigating Overwhelm and Decision Fatigue
Prioritization: Prioritize tasks and decisions to reduce the cognitive load. Set clear goals and objectives for yourself weekly and daily. Ensure you know what items are essential and have a sense of urgency and what items are not necessary or urgent. That can help you decide what to take off your list.
Limiting Choices: Reduce unnecessary decision-making by simplifying daily routines, such as meal planning and wardrobe choices, and automating repetitive tasks.
Time Management: Find strategies for effective time management, including using to-do lists, time blocking, and setting boundaries.
Mindfulness and Self-Care: Remember the importance of mindfulness practices and self-care to alleviate overwhelm and decision fatigue. Find techniques for relaxation and stress reduction. I’ve recently learned that I need active rest more than regular rest, so I have developed a new practice of “Going to the Mat.” Yes, I know going to the mat means something different than rest, but it works for me. I make sure I find my way to my yoga mat at least once a day and have some time to renew and process my thoughts and feelings.
Seeking Support: Reach out to friends, family, or professionals for support when dealing with these challenges. This is how I found my way to going to the mat. I sought out a life coach to help me. If you ever need someone, Michele Gooch with Life by Design is exceptional. Michele helped me recognize what once helped me and moved me forward now hinders me.
Navigating overwhelm and decision fatigue are common issues, but they can be managed effectively with the right strategies. I encourage anyone reading this to take proactive steps to break the cycle and improve their overall well-being.