By: Alexis Gomez

Every single day, we are required to make decisions. Some decisions aren’t life-or-death ones, but more like “What should I have for breakfast?” Others can be more daunting, like whether you are happy with where you are in life, or if it’s time to seek a new relationship or career shift. Making constant decisions can take a toll on you and lead to decision fatigue—a form of mental exhaustion that causes making decisions difficult and overwhelming.

Decision fatigue can happen to anyone, but it mostly occurs to those whose decisions impact other people, those facing uncertainty or a difficult life situation, and those with perfectionist tendencies. According to Kaiser Permanente psychiatric social worker Leigh Miller, LCSW, decision fatigue is “when your mind feels mentally and emotionally overwhelmed from making many decisions at one time or in a row.” This then impacts the quality of your decisions, leading to procrastination and poorer choices.

Fortunately, decision fatigue is temporary and there are ways to overcome it. Here are some tips to help you navigate the hurdles:

  • Creating simpler routines. You can make routines simpler by automating some. For example, you can try eating the same breakfast during the week to avoid having to decide every morning. You can also try creating a “daily uniform” to avoid deciding your outfits or lay them out the night before. For example, Steve Jobs and Barack Obama famously mentioned that they wore nearly the same thing every day to clear up space in their minds for more important decisions. As Leigh Miller explains, “By creating routines that then turn into habits, we reduce the number of decisions we need to make—and conserve our energy for bigger tasks and decisions.”
  • Delegating. If it’s possible, consider allowing other people to handle some tasks for you. While some decisions are necessary for you to make, others can be made by an individual you trust. You might be surprised what a relief it can be when you allow yourself to be helped by others.
  • Prioritizing sleep. This likely isn’t anything new, but those who get a good night’s rest have improved decision making. According to Cleveland Clinic, sleep-deprived people have poorer impulse control and emotional regulation skills, and their morality might also take a hit. It’s a good idea to “sleep on it” and get a good night’s rest to avoid decision fatigue.
  • Exercising. Exercising is good for the us, as we know, but it also affects the structure of our brain that’s critical for making good decisions. While getting 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a day is ideal, walking, or any exercise for that matter, is better than none!
  • Asking for advice. You may feel like you need to know all the answers for every decision you need to make, but reaching out to trusted friends and family members can ultimately be helpful. Consider their thoughts and perspectives and don’t be hesitant to ask them questions or voice your concerns. Decisions are hard, and figuring everything out on your own, without any advice or help, is even harder.
  • Finding time for self-care. Amidst days that are packed with decisions, giving your brain a break is important. Self-care can consist of a few minutes of meditation, breathing exercises, reading, listening to music, taking a walk outside, and many other low-stress activities that you enjoy. When you give your brain a break, you will be able to make decisions with a clearer mind.

Making small, but meaningful changes to your routine helps create lasting habits. Decision fatigue can entail a lot—excessive stress, overwhelming feelings, and exhaustion. However, when you establish helpful habits and nurture your brain by taking care of yourself, you can mitigate symptoms of decision fatigue and make important decisions more confidently.