My Life Hacks: How I Deal with Stress and Decision Making

I've never been good at making decisions. I've always struggled with making day to day decisions such as “what restaurant should we eat at.” So you can only imagine how stressed I became when it came time to make life changing decisions such as career options, school options, starting a family, financial decisions, etc. My normal go to phrase was “sorry, I suck at making decisions so you choose,” or I would procrastinate until the decision opportunity was either decided for me or passed me by. Which in return would only cause me to feel stressed and overwhelmed during the whole process. I’ve slowly learned new ways to help me figure out what I want and make decisions instead of

letting the stress of not making a decision overwhelm me. I’ve listed below things I do that help me and I hope some of them may help you if this is something you struggle with as well. 

1. Practice Makes Progress

I didn’t wake up over night and start making decisions, it took time and still something I’m constantly practicing. I’ve started out by practicing making decisions in my everyday life with smaller opportunities such as what to make for dinner, what activities to do on the weekend, or where to go for date night... etc. Most of my smaller decision struggles involves other people because I fear others may not like or agree with what I have chosen. My first step in becoming better included giving a person a list of 3 ideas and have them make the final decision. Then I moved to asking the person/group to give me a list of 3 ideas and then I would decide.. Slowly from there I started to just make 1 decision and stick with it. 

2. Embracing Alone Time

An important part of my process is finding a moment in the week to be alone and really connect with myself. I use my alone time to gather my thoughts, feelings, for prayers, and making a list. I normally choose to go for a walk, sit on our patio, or take a bubble bath. I find the key is to make sure it’s just me and no one else. During my walks I enjoy everything around me and just think. While on the patio I use that time to write and make checklist to help me organize my thoughts and feelings. While taking a bubble bath, I have instrumental music playing in the background and I let myself really embrace my emotions and then start going through my checklist. Personally, during all those moments I use the time to pray and talk with my Lord. 

3. My Checklist 

The bigger the decision usually the more stress I would feel. So I’ve learned instead of stressing about the decision, I needed to take time to sort out why I was starting to feel overwhelmed/stressed, what I wanted from this opportunity, and what was required to make a decision/de-stress the situation. For example, going back for my masters. I always start with my questions:

A) Why was a I feeling overwhelmed or stressed? I was worried about money, going back to school and everything that entailed such as homework, and could I do it and work full-time.

B) What’s my main goal? I wanted to positively teach skills to children with Autism so they would have the opportunity to function within our society. 

C) How can I take action? I started doing research into schools with special education master programs, research on cost, talk with friends in the programs, and make a financial budget. 

  • this is an important part because I do research during this time, I make a goal list, and I look at my pros and cons list

Making a list helps me to sort out how to make my decision and helps me to feel less stressed because I see achieving it is possible, I discover my real goals, it helps to visually see the steps I need to take to de-stress the situation and helps me to make a decision. 

I realize everyone is different,but I hope reading my strategies helps you find your own ways. Life is too short to be spent dwelling on stress. So let’s take control and live our best happy life. 

Much Love, Reba




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