During a killa sweat sesh, our muscles become exhausted as we max out on reps. The following day is filled with [painful, yet satisfying ; )] victory badges of honor. We all know what this muscle fatigue feels like — sore, aching limbs, struggled movements, difficulty walking — but these muscles are not the only parts of the body that get it’s fair share of exercise on a day to day basis. Although the brain is not [technically] a muscle, it behaves surprisingly similar to one! Not only can it be trained to improve, but it can also get worn out with continuous use, particularly when it comes to decision making —
WHAT IS DECISION FATIGUE?
Let’s compare a singular rep on your fav gym machine to a single decision. A set typically ranges from 10-15 reps, after which your muscle [whatever you’re workin’!] is pretty tired temporarily, although still functional. On average, consciously aware adults make roughly 35,000 decisions per day. That’s a lot of reps for one muscle to deal with!
Decision fatigue refers to the deterioration of mental willpower as we make more + more decisions, resulting in careless choices as the day goes on [similar to how our weights get harder + harder to lift throughout the workout!]. Despite how similar the concept is to physical fatigue, we are not as consciously aware of it when it’s happening.
The process of decision fatigue involves ego depletion. This Freudian idea demonstrates that there is a limit to how well the brain can exhibit self control + willpower. Imagine having a plate of warm cookies in front of you for an hour,+ then immediately being offered ice cream as you go to leave the room. At this point, mental control is decently impaired, + thus people typically give in more easily [but who wouldn’t have a little difficulty when dealing with cookies + ice cream? ; )]. A more common example is coming home from a tough, decision-heavy day at work // school. Despite the promise that we may have made to ourselves in the AM to hit the gym post-work, it’s suddenly a lot harder to get up + go, isn’t it?
HOW TO COMBAT IT
Making smart decisions at the end of a busy day is not impossible. There are several easy, effective ways to combat the symptoms of decision fatigue —
1] PRACTICE MINIMALISM
Even the simplest decisions [like deciding what to eat for breakfast, what socks to wear, what to text back…] are decisions nonetheless. Even more so, they add up quickly to onset early decision fatigue — which is why practicing a life of minimalism [+ thus minimizing daily decision making] is an excellent way to combat it.
Some of the most powerful industry leaders in the world have already figured this tactic out: Elon Musk, Barack Obama, Carolina Herrara, ++ Steve Jobs did not wear the same outfits every day out of laziness // because they had no time [Steve jobs + his famous black turtleneck, blue jeans, ++ grey sneakers, anyone?]. Successful people often practice minimalism [even in the slightest] because they understand that fewer decisions = less decision fatigue.
Try channeling your inner business magnate + plan your days ahead of the time. It sounds simple — but you’ll be living like some of the most influential people in the world! ; )
2] FUEL PROPERLY
Just as our muscles need the right fuel to lift those *heavy weights,* our brains need the right fuel to become efficient decision-makers. Glucose is a vital nutrient that our cells need for energy — + studies have shown that replenishing glucose levels in the body correlates with an increase in willpower. Our bodies can break down this nutrient from virtually anything containing carbohydrates [score! ; )].
However, the key to healthy brain fuel is *balance* — so indulge in all the macronutrients [proteins, carbs + fats] where it’s due, + invest your time in finding the right, nutritious foods for your body.
3] CONQUER THE IMPORTANT DECISIONS FIRST
If decision fatigue is something that occurs as more + more decisions are made, + we all start out with a fresh mindset every morning, it makes sense to do the important decision-making first thing in the morning. You’ll simply be able to put the most amount of attention ++ focus on it because your mind has had less to deal with — which is probably why a lot of people prefer to go to the gym in the morning!
In today’s day + age, we are all faced with loads of choices to make each + every day. We make decisions left + right, which is why none of us are immune to decision fatigue. However, limiting daily decisions, fueling our bodies right, ++ honing a powerful routine can help our brains out big time!
Becca [@becc_inchaarg] // [UMD CHAARG]