Anyone who has unloaded a moving van knows decision fatigue. As our daily decision quota skyrockets to critical overload, overwhelm and indecision set in. But when a podcaster exposes the root of my decision fatigue, I am stopped in my tracks.

In her latest podcast, Emily P. Freeman states indecision may be “a symptom of a deeper issue: grief, life transition, or general overwhelm”,

The associations with overwhelm and transition do not surprise me. I write about living well in times of life transition. My big why is to help readers be less overwhelmed.

But, grief?

Sure, I know there are losses when we relocate. We’ve said many goodbyes. But I’ve been working so hard at settling in that I’ve had no space for looking back.

I forgot – or stuffed – the grief.

I’m realizing this approach is hurting me and people I care about. So, I’m trying some strategies that help. They can help you, too:

STOP

Stop sign

We’ve only been back in Canada three months and I’ve been busy. Wheels spinning. Kids fighting. Solo parenting. Trying to create some semblance of routine in yet another season of transition.

The incessant demands of little people can drown out thoughts I need think. Feelings I need to feel. They can blind me to what is most important for me to do in that moment.

The frenetic activity isn’t helping any of us. When my shoulders suggest overwhelm is winning and my mind can’t settle on pasta or potato, it’s time to stop. Just. Stop.

Step away. Stand on the lawn. Sit on the porch. Look. Walk. Breathe. The HALT method. helps identify why you or your kids are spiraling. The deeper grief will need more time.

REST

Decision fatigue is half fatigue. A nap may be just what you need.

JOURNAL

Woman writing in a journal
A journal can be a safe place to process things that are hard to talk about.

I process by writing, so spewing my feelings and frustrations onto paper is great therapy.  For verbal processors, a walk or coffee with a safe friend may serve, but for me, writing is more honest.

In our travels, we collect memories and anecdotes, perspective and friendships. I like to talk about these things.

We also collect a laundry list of losses.

Friends moved away while we were gone. People with whom we shared birthdays and Christmases in a foreign land have been left behind. Sometimes we aren’t sure who are our people in this place.

These are hard things to talk about. Writing in a journal can help.

REFLECT

Emily recommends asking these two questions at the close of any season or project: “What was life giving?” and “What was life draining?” Taking time to reflect on the joys and the hard parts of this past season will help bring some closure.

RECONNECT

Card with pastel heart
Let a friend know that you miss them.

I bet at least one item on of your life-giving list is a person. The friend who showed you around. The family who welcomed you. Write them a note. Send a photo of your new place. Let them know you appreciate them. That they are not forgotten.

Back when my summer days were lazy, I’d go to camp. I’d return home to write long, rambling letters to my new friends about how I missed them.

I had no idea how therapeutic that letter writing was. How luxurious to pine and process.

More importantly, when I neglect to stay in touch, my friends may feel forgotten or ignored. I even had a dear friend ask if I was upset with her. (On the same day that I heard the aforementioned podcast. “Yes, God, I’m listening now.”) I’m so glad she asked! How many have felt that way and kept quiet?

Our words matter. Including the ones we don’t say. When I don’t say goodbye well, it hurts me and those I’ve left behind.

RECESS TIME

You already know this. Moving you body will make you feel more positive. Think clearer. Be less fatigued. Doing it outside is even better.

REMINISCE

We have thousands of photos and seldom make time to look at them. Sit with your kids, spouse, or fellow traveler. Look at your photos and remember. Reminisce. Let nostalgia wash over you. Welcome tears if they come. Sometimes you just need a good cry.

So, for you who are grieving the losses that accompany new adventures, may something here help you to process. May you rest, write, get outside and exercise this week. May you reconnect with life-giving memories and people.

Let me know how it goes.

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2 thoughts on “What to do when you can’t seem to choose

  1. I believe many will resonate with your post. Some people don’t realize how decisions can be overwhelming. True story. I prefer shopping in stores with less choices. I find larger stores are overstimulating and therefore I get drained in trying to choose from so MANY choices. I could relate to this post. Because what I do is STOP, just as you mentioned. And it takes a lot to get restarted. Better to be aware and preventative.

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    1. Yes! I feel the same! The first time I moved back home after a school year in a small Caribbean island, I was pumped to buy chocolate bars and Sour patch kids. The options had been very limited when I was away. I went to a Walmart, found the junk food aisle and was completely overwhelmed. I walked out without buying anything! The same thing happens in more subtle ways now. I can’t figure out what to do first, so I check out and watch TV instead. (Sometimes.) And yes, there is an inertia that makes it hard to get started again.

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