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Decision Fatigue

I’m trying to remember where I heard the term ‘decision fatigue’. I believe it was in the book The Power of Habit┬áby Charles Duhigg. It’s a great book that I highly recommend. The point though is that I realy love that phrase, decision fatigue. It resonated with me so much the first time I came across it. If I remember correctly, the point the bookmakes with this term is that habits allow us to prevent decision fatigue. By having things we do routinely, without thinking, it lets us save all that decision making energy for other problmems.
I frequently find myself exausted from making decisions. When I work weekends, my husband handles dinner. He will sometimes ask if there is anything special I want. I usually answer something along the lines of, “I want to not have to think about it.” Then he gets takeout and we are all happy.
When I was recovering from my many surgeries, I had a lot of anxiety about a lot of things. I didn’t feel I was coping all that well, and I was supposed to be carefully watching my weight and following so many other instrutions I wa getting overwhelmed. I took advantage of a program my insurance provided to do phone coaching for things like weight, stress management, etc. Some of the problems I discussed with my councler/coach person were very small everyday things, like the stress of figuring out what to do for dinner all the time. She helped me come up with a system to plan ahead weekly so I knew what I needed to do each day. It seems so simple, but at the time I just couldn’t make any more decisions. I was seriously fatigued. Even better, small things like this really helped. Way more than I expected them to. To have a plan for everyday things leaves what little decision making energy I have availble for decisions that come up that can’t be planned for.

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In a Funk

It happens sometimes, right?
I’m feeling overwhelmed – with things that need doing, with problems that need solving, and that sort of thing. I’m also breaking my rule about avoiding news. It feels irresponsible to do so at the moment. Not only do I feel the need to pay attention, but to contact my representatives and tell my thoughts about it all. That’s what good citizens do, right? It’s stressful. There are people who enjoy this sort of thing. Nutty.

Looking at my calendar is depressing too. Well, everything we’re doing is great, but there’s just so much of it. Over scheduled. Overwhelmed.

So I’m not really writing much. Or sewing. Or feeling creative in any way.

I’m also having a lot of dreams. Science tells us that we’re always having lots of dreams, so it would be more accurate to say I’m remembering my dreams more. Upsetting dreams. At least, upsetting in the moment. My dreams have always been weird. I’ve had friends tell me their dreams and they sound like normal days. I dream things like – Elvis and Kermit the Frog show up in my living room to give me advice on how to get the carolers off my lawn in the middle of the summer. (They thought I should turn the sprinklers on them). So if I try to explain my dreams to other people they sound silly. Yet in the dream, there is often intense emotion or an air of menace that is unsettling, and un-restful. Some of you will know what I’m talking about. Then that unsettled, un-rested feeling clings to me the rest of the day.

It all leaves me tired, and in no mood to create.

Then there’s guilt because I’m not making progress on the quilt, or the novel, or the Friday Flash Fiction stories. That doesn’t help settle me down. Plus, the creating is such a part of me – a satisfying essential part of me, I don’t like the way I feel without it. Time to go into hermit mode for awhile and get my groove back.

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Get A Grip

I was driving along, all stressed up as usual the other day, and read a bumper sticker on the car in front of me. Well, not a bumper sticker, but one of those metal frames that go around the license plate; I’m just not sure what they’re called. Anyway, it said, “Get a grip: It’s only a lane change.”

Those words totally struck me.

I’ve been all worried about everything lately. Worried about getting healthy, looking for a new house, am I doing a good job with my kids, does my writing suck, am I getting the hang of the new office at work, do I keep my socks in the best spot, and so on ad nauseam.

What this license plate frame seemed to be saying to me was: Don’t freak out about the big picture right now. Just get in the right lane. Simple. Do the simple, small things you know you need to do. That will take you where you need to go.

I started thinking about how the lane your in can take you someplace completely different than the lane right next to you, over a long enough distance. Roads are crazy things some times. It isn’t always intuitive what lane will take you where you want to go. Some exits go one way, and others loop back on themselves to take you a different way. It may feel like you’re headed in the wrong direction for your finial destination, but if you’re in the right lane, you’ll get turned and twisted around until you make it there in the end. To get where you want to go, you don’t always have to make radical changes. Just make a lane change. Then keep going.

After I had all these deep thoughts, with “Life is a Highway” type metaphors running around in my head, one little part of may brain suggested that maybe it was only a snarky comment aimed at pushy drivers. I refuse to accept that though. It calmed me down so much, and made all my neurotic stresses feel suddenly so manageable. I have decided it was a very deep message only disguised as snark.

Isn’t it cool when you stumble on something like that?