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Tips for those experiencing decision fatigue during pandemic

Posted at 5:14 PM, Jun 01, 2020

Everything you do during the day comes with making decisions. With quarantines lifting, you're now faced with a whole new set of decisions on what is safe to do.

Experts say that's made more overwhelming because we still don't know everything about COVID-19 and you may be getting mixed messages from leadership.

“So, you might have a governor saying one thing. You might have a mayor wanting something different happening in the local community,” said Dr. Lynn Bufka, Senior Director for Practice, Research and Policy at APA. “So, it becomes very difficult for the average person who's not an expert in these matters to figure out how to make decisions.”

Bufka says this kind of cognitive overload or "decision fatigue" can make the simplest choices seem more exhausting, like what to wear or what to have for dinner.

Bufka suggests two ways to take the pressure off. First, accept that it's not easy right now so it's okay to be imperfect. And second, set up a new routine. Even just rotating the same few outfits can help cut down on the decisions you have to make.

“We don't really think about how much thinking and how much mental effort goes into what we do in the day,” said Bufka. “Every time we make a decision, that's a little bit of mental effort.”

Bufka says our normal routines before, during and after quarantine will all look different. So, you may not be able to just go back to what you did before the outbreak to cut stress.