Decision Fatigue: What Is It and How To Combat It

Decision Fatigue: What Is It and How To Combat It

Did you know: the average person makes around 35,000 decisions in one day by the time they go to bed? 

From what you eat, the route you drive, to what you wear, or what to do with your free time, we are faced with a multitude of decisions through our day. You may not realize it, but this amount of decision making could be overwhelming and wearing on you without you realizing it.

You may or may not have heard of what the AMA (American Medical Association) calls Decision fatigue.

What exactly is decision fatigue? Decision fatigue is “the idea that after making many decisions, your ability to make more and more decisions over the course of a day becomes worse,” said Dr. MacLean, a psychiatrist. “The more decisions you have to make, the more fatigue you develop and the more difficult it can become.” Note that “there are four main symptoms: procrastination, impulsivity, avoidance and indecision.”

Suffering from decision fatigue can have impacts on many areas of your life. 

Think of this scenario: you want to eat healthier and lose about 15 pounds. You feel motivated and make great choices earlier in the day, but after a long hard day at work, daycare stop to pick up the kids, and a 30 minute drive home in a thunderstorm, you find yourself mentally exhausted and slipping in the evening. You didn’t have time to pick up groceries or prep your meal and end up making nutrition choices that were not in your plan. Not the end of the world, but if it’s happening every day, it is going to deter you from sticking to your healthy eating plan and ultimately delay reaching your goal. Fortunately, there are things you can do to avoid moments like this.

If you are trying to make positive habit changes, like improving your health by eating better and exercising, one of the most helpful things you can do to set yourself up for success is plan ahead. That way, you have fewer decisions to make day to day. With desired change, comes challenge, so it will only boost success in your path to living healthier.

You might be thinking, what are some other ways you can make fewer daily  decisions? Keep reading to find out how you can plan ahead to not only get on track, but stay on track, in many areas of your life:


⚫️Hone in on developing your routine (health, sleep, etc.) Despite making nearly 35,000 decisions per day, habits actually account for around 40% of your daily actions. This means if you can work on creating healthy habits and set up a good routine (these habits will lessen the decision loan), you can conserve energy for other important things in your day.

⚫️Make your grocery list before you go to the store or do order pick up to avoid impulse buys as you scour the aisles in store.

⚫️Make important decisions earlier in the day. You know what they say, never make a big decision without sleeping on it first.

⚫️Electronics and social media can be extremely draining. Limit your device times.

⚫️Meal planning: don’t overthink it or have too many options. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply choose 1-2 carb, protein, veggie, and fat items and use those to create simple meals through the week. Use the plate template: 1/2 plate filled with veggies, 1/4 plate filled with protein, and 1/4 plate filled with carb.

⚫️Pick out your exercise clothes/shoes and pack your bag the night before. Put the bag in your car or lay the clothes out for first thing in the morning. 

⚫️Make a daily to do list of important things you need to accomplish the night before.

⚫️Exercise at the same time every day.

⚫️Cut out things that are not important in your life and learn to say no.


Those are just a few simple ways you can get started building positive habits and lessening the daily decision load. Remember that an individual’s stress levels can heighten or lessen decision fatigue, so you may not suffer from it much at all, but a loved one may easily struggle with it. 

Do you find yourself feeling the effects of decision fatigue? What can you make part of your daily habits so you have less choices during the day?




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