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    Keep Your Mental Energy Up

    There's a problem out there you might not even recognize--decision fatigue.

    "What?" you might ask. I did, too. And I learned that it's something that could certainly affect the health of Florida Career College students, who often work outside of school and have families as well.

    Decision fatigue is what happens when you have too many decisions to make at one time. For example, let's say you keep a tight budget. You know how much money you need to pay the rent, your phone bill, electric, car payment, and so on. These bills are predictable and usually stay about the same each month.

    Now it's time to go grocery shopping. Even though you have a list, you have all these decisions to make. There's a sale on your family's favorite cereal but you have to buy four boxes and you really need just one or two. You don't have that much cabinet space to hold all those boxes. You didn't expect to spend $12 on cereal. But the savings is 75 cents a box. You have to decide, right now, if  you afford the "savings."

    And this happens over and over again. By the end of the shopping trip, you've spent so much mental energy on fast decision-making that when your son points out that the Nestle's chocolate-cookie drinking straws are on "special," you give in. You don't really care that this is a ridiculous thing to buy, or that your son hardly needs more sugar with his chocolate milk. You've had enough.

    You also used up a lot of mental energy you need for other things like studying. As an FCC student, your time is probably pretty tight and precious. Getting time in to study is incredibly important.

    Decision fatigue may have caused you to make bad decisions that impact both your time and finances.

    Is there anything you can do to avoid or control this? Yes there is. First, eat foods that slowly release sugar into your system.  Second, schedule the heavy decision-making work for when you're most mentally alert.

    It turns out that eating lightly throughout the day can help prevent decision fatigue and save your mental energy. Foods like low-fat cheese, fruit, and granola bars are good for many people. You don't want a sugar or carbohydrate high because you'll crash, so avoid candy and chips because they deliver too much too quickly to your system.

    Try to schedule decision-making events just like you schedule your study time. It's best to do anything that requires a lot of decisions when your mental and physical energy are highest. For most people, this is earlier in the day.

    Major decision-making events like grocery shopping is best to do after a snack or meal so you aren't tempted to make snap decisions because you're getting hungry. If at all possible, do it in the morning as well, after a healthy breakfast.

    And if you buy the Nestle's sticks, walk right past the cookie aisle!

     

     

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