In a world filled with supermarkets, restaurants, and online shopping, we face a lot of choices. Ironically, we think we want more choices, but in reality, having more choices is stressing us out.
Take a seemingly innocent task like buying groceries. Think about the number of choices you have to make just to get your food for the week. First, you have to decide what you are going to eat.
Once you decide what type of food you’re going to eat for one meal, let’s say cereal and milk for breakfast, you’re not done.
What kind of cereal and what kind of milk? Have you seen how many options there are for these categories? It’s mind-boggling.
No wonder you probably feel tired after grocery shopping. You’ve just made dozens of tiny decisions and decision fatigue has set in. But there is a bit of good news.
Chances are you already have a way of coping with the number of choices you face—buying the same thing over and over.
While buying the same thing might seem limiting, this coping mechanism actually helps you survive. If you had to create a plan from scratch for what to eat for each meal every week, you’d be ready to give up on eating. Blocking out some of those choices allows you to function.
But eating isn’t the only area where we have to make regular decisions.
What about clothing? We tend to see what we wear as a way to express ourselves. But for most people, deciding what to wear is a source of stress. Their closets are overflowing, yet they have nothing to wear, and they end up wearing the same thing over and over.
If you’re a mom with young children, you’re not only in charge of your own wardrobe, but you also have to make decisions about what your children wear. As those children develop their own tastes and preferences, you have to factor that into the decision.
The Truth About More Choices
It’s ironic that we think we want more options when it comes to what to eat and what to wear and yet feel overwhelmed when we have more choices.
So are we doomed to choice overwhelm?
No, but we will have to be intentional about how many choices we allow in our lives.
Routines and cycles can be a helpful way to address the decision drama, but they require upfront effort to establish. But what if we put in the effort and lowered our stress? We could put the effort we saved into something that matters more to us.
Reducing the number of choices in our lives is one way we can be kinder to ourselves.
What’s one area where you’ve lowered your stress by reducing the number of choices you have to make?