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We have changed our name! Kids on the Spectrum is now called Living on the Spectrum

Decision Fatigue-Understanding and Overcoming the challenges

In my work with carers via Living on the Spectrum, I’ve seen decision fatigue’s prevalence and its mental health impacts. With 55.2% of caregivers experiencing low well-being and individuals making 35,000 decisions daily on average, caregivers are especially vulnerable. Sharing strategies, fostering support, and providing resources can mitigate impact and empower caregivers effectively.

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What is Decision Fatigue:

Every day, we face a multitude of decisions, ranging from mundane choices like what to wear to more intricate ones at work or home. Surprisingly, the average person makes about 35,000 decisions daily, but caregivers contend with even more. This staggering figure underscores the significant mental exertion required to navigate our lives. However, amidst this constant decision-making, there’s a lurking challenge: mental and physical strain and overwhelm.

Decision fatigue refers to the difficulty in organising thoughts to make necessary choices for oneself and loved ones. It’s an overwhelming sensation often accompanied by stress, anxiety, and sometimes fear, leading to both physical and emotional challenges with potential long-term consequences.

This phenomenon silently creeps up on us, manifesting as mental exhaustion after a series of decisions, rendering us incapable of even the simplest choices. Drawing from my experience as a caregiver for my two autistic children, I aim to share insights into recognising and overcoming this issue.

My Experience:

Despite being a familiar concept, it hit me hardest during a period when I was responsible for organising care and support for my autistic son. This happened amidst significant stress and anxiety, amplifying the mental load of managing his needs alongside other responsibilities. Every decision, no matter how trivial, seemed to compound the exhaustion, reaching a point where even the simplest choices became daunting tasks.

Impact on Health and Well-being:

The effects permeated both my physical and mental well-being. Physically, it led me to postpone essential medical appointments and neglect self-care tasks like dental check-ups. Mentally, it left me feeling inadequate and incompetent, straining relationships and hindering my ability to fulfil my parental and work duties effectively.

Recognising and Addressing Decision Fatigue:

It wasn’t until I experienced the consequences firsthand that I realised the severity of decision fatigue in my life. I learned to identify its signs and implemented strategies to overcome it. Recognising my limitations and seeking support from family, friends, and support groups became essential tools in navigating the fog.

Improvements and Coping Mechanisms:

Since addressing decision fatigue, I’ve noticed improvements in my ability to cope with stress and make decisions more effectively. Building a support network, practicing self-compassion, and prioritising self-care have been instrumental in managing decision fatigue and maintaining well-being.

Tips for Managing Decision Fatigue:

For those struggling with decision fatigue, I offer the following tips:

  1. Prioritise self-care and seek support from loved ones.
  2. Set up support systems before reaching a breaking point.
  3. Join supportive online communities for validation and encouragement.
  4. Explore mindfulness techniques to stay grounded amidst decision fatigue.

Supporting Caregivers:

Decision fatigue is a common yet often overlooked aspect of our daily lives, particularly for caregivers and individuals managing complex responsibilities. By recognising its signs, implementing coping strategies, and seeking support, we can mitigate its effects and cultivate resilience in the face of overwhelming decision-making demands. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help and prioritise self-care amidst the chaos and fatigue.

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