HomeHealthPandemic-Related Stress Can Cause Decision Fatigue: What to Know

Pandemic-Related Stress Can Cause Decision Fatigue: What to Know

Feeling tired or even exhausted at the thought of making decisions are the primary signs of decision fatigue.

“When your brain and body is taxed from making multiple significant decisions in a short span of time, it sometimes needs time to decompress,” said Paraskevi Noulas, PsyD, a psychologist at NYU Langone Health. “So we reach a point where we don’t want to decide anything anymore. It’s as though the frontal lobe shuts down and our executive functioning skills are tapped out for the moment.”

Some people may experience decision fatigue as frustration, anger, anxiety, or depression. Individuals who are feeling burnt out emotionally may also experience changes in their behavior.

“They might disconnect from social events and perhaps be less productive or engaged at school or work,” Noulas said. “They might let little and big tasks slide which can be concerning as the tasks pile up.”

Psychosomatic symptoms such as nausea, headaches, chest tightness, a sense of lethargy may also come up.

Two years of collective upheaval is bound to take its toll on all aspects of society. Returning to a semblance of normal life will be different for each individual and family.

“If someone has significantly changed their life during the pandemic, such as moving to a new state or country, new job, newly married or separated/divorced, they’ll have to redefine what their new normal looks like,” Noulas said. “It might be harder naturally to make certain decisions that impact their life and their loved ones. Do I move back home? Do I place my child back in their prior school district?”

She encourages anyone struggling with complex decisions to take their time and feel out their options.

“There’s no clear right or wrong here and each person will travel their own path. Take the time you need to sort out next steps,” she said. “There’s no pressure to set an artificial deadline for yourself.”

If you’re feeling exhausted or living with decision fatigue from the pandemic, it’s important to know that it’s a completely normal reaction and that you are not alone.

“Be kind to yourself and recognize that we’ve all been through the wringer these past few years and the world stressors don’t abate,” Noulas said.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your daily decisions, Yeager recommends starting out with concentrating on the smallest ones first, like what you will have for breakfast or what you will wear for the day.

“Seek input from trusted loved ones in making more complex decisions,” he said. “And talk with others and understand you are not alone. There are many others experiencing exactly the same thing.”

Finally, don’t forget to take a break from life’s daily stresses and care for yourself.

“Carve out time for yourself, be it quiet alone time, socializing with a friend, taking a yoga class whatever works for you to slowly re-energize yourself and replenish your well again,” Noulas said.



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