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How can you deal with decision-making stress?

Good Question: A Charlotte counselor says there are some tools you can use to help you make decisions and feel a little better about them
Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 4:50 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2021 at 5:01 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - How can you deal with some of that decision-making stress?

That’s tonight’s Good Question.

On Your Side Tonight’s Jamie Boll asked Charlotte counselor Juliet Kuehnle.

She says there are some tools you can use to help you make decisions and feel a little better about them.

Jamie Boll: Why would the pandemic be having an impact on our ability to even make a simple?

Juliet Kuehnle: “So many things have been and felt out of our control but it’s made some of the things that actually might be in our control feel more fragile and waited, so the pandemic has really involved the need for constant risk assessment.

And every task in choice has been reoriented in the context of the pandemic, so, decision making typically happens really quickly, almost unconsciously, where we build a list of possibilities, and then we execute. But during the pandemic, the factors influencing our choices have been constantly changing, so we have decision-making fatigue. Boll: Is there a difference between taking your time making a decision versus something that’s a little more paralyzing if you will.

Kuehnle: “I think that it’s when you feel the stuckness around it or the weight of kind of stress or anxiety, so our bodies can’t make the distinction of where stress comes from or even how threatening the stress really is.

So when we’re faced with a level of uncertainty that we’ve all been faced with, it overwhelms our ability to cope. So as I always say, uncertainty is the foundation for anxiety. So, indecisiveness is a form of anxiety because we’ve attached a meaning to it, right? So it may mean that there’s a wrong choice or that It means something about me if I make that wrong choice or the stakes are higher, so it carries this heavier stress to it.”

Boll: Does it feed on itself then?

Kuehnle: “Yes because then we kind of buy into that narrative. And so that’s why I always say take action. And even if it feels like there is going to be a consequence, taking that action and continuing to do so will get you out of that loop.”

Boll: So you mentioned coping, so let’s give people some, maybe some ideas on how they can cope with this and women they’re struggling with making a decision.

Kuehnle: “So indecision becomes a bad thing when it lasts too long or it paralyzes us or increases that anxiety or we’re dwelling on it. So just we need to reclaim our power of choice around those things that are in our control.

So I often say, we often say in psychology, name it to tame it, so if you can name that, that’s what’s happening that you’re sort of having that analysis paralysis or decision, you know paralysis.

Then sometimes you can snap out of it and that can help. You kind of narrow your options. So you can also play out what’s the worst-case scenario and that can help you discern.

Are there actually consequences? Are the stakes really that high? So, you could ask yourself things like what am I afraid of? What will I do if that fear comes to pass? How will I cope? And then you can identify what are some of the things that you can put into place for you personally to help you out of that? Much of life is learning how to be comfortable with discomfort and uncertainty, so taking action even when you’re unsure, is critical.”

Boll: If you start small, do you gain confidence then? Is it almost like you know you’re working outright and I’m getting stronger. I can now run three miles where I couldn’t run a mile a week ago?

Kuehnle: Yes, especially because a lot of these things they’re talking about in this survey are relatively inconsequential things, so you have the what we call corrective experiences each time you kind of start small and build up. When you realize, oh, the world didn’t fall apart because I picked the red shirt, not the blue shirt so, you do start to kind of trust your instincts a little more.

Boll: Any more helpful tools that you would suggest for people you know on dealing with this?

Kuehnle: “Yep, I would say most of the time we can work ourselves out of this rut now, knowing that the why behind it. But you know, you might want to seek professional help if you do find that you just can’t get unstuck or that you really are dwelling on it because a therapist can help you identify if there are other underlying causes or triggers that can help you create an action plan to change it to change the pattern that can work through any other anxiety or depressive symptoms that may make the overthinking.

“Have more grace for ourselves and each other, even as we’re stuck in our decisions.”

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