Making decisions in early recovery, however big or small, can drain your energy. When incorporating your recovery regimen to work into the everyday decisions of choosing what to eat, what to wear and how to manage your work and leisure time, you can soon develop stress, anxiety and fatigue. Becoming overwhelmed in recovery sets you on a dangerous path toward relapse. Every decision you make requires time, energy and willpower.
Decision fatigue is different from physical fatigue. You might not be consciously aware of being tired and low on mental energy; however, the more choices you make in the day, the harder each becomes for your brain until you eventually look for shortcuts. Seeking shortcuts begins to develop bad habits that could cause you to become reckless and impulsive in your decision-making, thus threatening your health and wellbeing. Luckily, there are multiple ways you can keep decision fatigue from happening. It just takes careful planning and sticking to that plan, and soon you can replenish your willpower and productivity in your day.
Make Fewer Decisions
When first leaving treatment and entering your new life of recovery, you likely feel a lot of energy and optimism. While you might feel great, the reality is that these feelings will begin to balance out as you acclimate back into your daily life. However, before this happens, you might find yourself trying to take on all these new challenges and pursuits because you feel capable of doing anything. Before long, your day becomes packed with all these goals and responsibilities that you need to tackle. Over time as your enthusiasm and energy decrease and balance out, you could start to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. You might even begin to resent recovery.
A better approach to recovery and life, in general, is to reduce the number of decisions you make daily. Creating a list of the necessary things you need: sleep, exercise, work and self-care, and establishing a time for which they will take place, helps you make better choices. When persistent, you will also free up mental space. For example, when it comes to eating, you won’t have to wonder what you will eat and what time you will eat because you have set mealtimes. Making small changes as such allows you to focus on more pressing tasks and decisions in the day. When you arrange and set plans, you create a GPS guide to help you navigate your day instead of wondering which route to take.
Make Big Decisions in the Morning to Reduce Decision Fatigue
Studies show that the time of day impacts judgment and the ability to make the best decisions. It might make sense that morning people make the best decisions in the morning while night owls make their best decisions at night; however, this is not so. For many, the best time of day to tackle significant decision-making is in the morning. One of the reasons is that most people hit a plateau by the afternoon and evening and become susceptible to making riskier decisions. You may have also discovered that you change your decision-making policies throughout the day. Therefore, in the morning, you are probably more cautious and meticulous with choices. If you have a big decision, aim to make it in the morning and stick to it.
Limit Your Options
Too many choices can stress anybody out. You become mired in your decision-making and begin to second guess yourself. Think about when you purchase an item with many options and alternatives, soon your decision fatigue becomes heightened by your desire to shop around for the best deal. Having too many options in your day creates the same fatigue. Try paring down your options so you have a limited number of choices. Spending a great deal of time exploring options and determining which will motivate you to accomplish the task creates anxiety.
During the planning process for your daily regimen, pick two or three options surrounding a necessary task or goal and how to get there. Don’t spend too much time weighing the pros and cons, especially if this is a task you need to get done daily. When you make your decision, stick with it. For example, say you want to set your meals at 7 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. with three additional snack times between each meal and before bed – stick with these times. Your body might tell you it’s hungry at first, but over time your body and mind will adjust to these times until you no longer have to think about when you will eat.
Stop Second-Guessing Yourself
It is easy to become trapped into second-guessing yourself in recovery and life, placing undue pressure to make the “right choice.” When you choose something that you are not confident with or second guess, you stand to regret that choice and wallow in it. However, like recovery, it is all about moving forward with confidence. While there will be challenges and setbacks, the idea is to keep looking ahead and never dwell on the past.
When you stop going back to ponder your choices to see if you prefer something else, you will no longer regret all the time you have wasted. Often the first choice is just as good if not better than any other choice. For example, you want to exercise. However, you are tired, and therefore, you might think of other choices that justify not exercising that somehow leave you feeling content with the idea. The truth is, there is no other option that can leave you with the same sense of accomplishment after exercising as just choosing to exercise.
Establishing a plan that minimizes and simplifies your choices will help bring balance, focus and motivation into your recovery. Remember, recovery and success are not things you can accomplish in a day or week or year; they are lifelong journeys that help you continue to grow and learn. Therefore, placing all your stock into one day only sets you up for burnout and frustration. Tending to your needs is essential and requires learning how to balance them and set reasonable goals that will keep you motivated for the long term. At New Hope Ranch in Manor, Texas, we believe that the best recovery plan incorporates balance, simplicity and consistency. We offer treatment and therapies that are both conventional and alternative to assure that your individual needs get met. If you find it challenging to create a plan that keeps you focused and motivated without feeling burned out, then it is time to seek help. Call us today at (737) 600-8565.