I wrote earlier in the month about how exhaustion can impair our ability to make good, clear decisions. As single parents who are often doing and managing more than the average person, we can have a tendency to let ourselves get run down and so tired, we have trouble thinking clearly and meeting the needs of our families. BUT, we can also be susceptible to a great deal of stress and making decisions under stress can be disastrous.
The problem is, however, we often cannot put off making decisions and solving big issues, just because we are stressed out or going through a crisis. Even though our judgment may be lacking, our temper short, and our ability to see out from under or around the current stresses is impacting our ability to function–we still need to be able to function. As solo parents, we have families and lives to run. So, what can be done about making decisions under stress?
Well, first we really have to tackle the stress issue–trying to find ways to get ourselves calmer and more healthy. Sure, we’ve heard that we need to eat right, try to get enough sleep, exercise or move, avoid alcohol and caffeine (blah, blah, blah, right?)–but it is important. Any way we can help ourselves lesson the stress and let go of all the tension will help.
Next, we need to have some coping strategies in place for times when the stress is unbearable. One woman I know says that when she is under stress, she makes sure to slow things way down and get every single fact before making a decision. When things are smooth and good, she says, she can trust her intuition more, but when she is stressed she needs to really get all the facts and pay attention. Another person told me once that when she is stressed out, she relies on a few trusted friends to help her see problems more clearly. When she is so stressed she can’t see the forest for the trees, she asks her friends for a reality check and actually listens to their advice and more objective viewpoint.
Finally, I like to rely on some positive language and pep talk. Since I tend to be someone who can beat myself up with the self-judgment far worse than anyone else could ever do to me, I’ve learned over the years that when times are stressful, I can “talk” my way through it with lots of positive affirmation and self-encouragement. For some reason, just reassuring myself that I can do it, that I’ve done it before and that everything will work out in the end seems to help.