Stress and anxiety play a vital role in the way we make decisions. Stress controls every part of our lives. We make decisions all the time, and many of those decisions are made under stressful conditions. It is not always easy, especially when choosing between two options that have both positive and negative components. A good definition of stress, which summarizes its relationship with decision-making, is that stress is a demand made upon all the components of the mind and body.
This definition shows that stress could be both good and bad, it is our reaction to the stress that matters, and if our minds are well, we will respond well.
Symptoms of stress with the most impact on decision-making are those of which affect the process of thinking. Under great stress, the process of thinking is characterized by loss of concentration, unable to perceive new information, short-term memory, lack of initial planning of actions, and decision-making. Stress can lead to mental confusion between choices that could or could not be worthwhile, and could last for months.
For example, you could have a high paying job but have to work exhausting hours, or on the other hand have more leisure time but with a lower paying job.
Stress is a normal reaction to life’s many challenges. In 2015, a study showed that over 30% of individuals undergo high levels of stress. Some people can manage stress better than others, but excessive stress tends to affect everyone’s health. Danger and fear for ones own life, serious threat to important values and goals, life, health, environment, fear of failure and weight of responsibility.
People can get stressed when they have to do so many things at one time, or have to make many decisions at once. Multitasking interferes with decision making because you’re not giving your brain the chance to focus for long enough on the problem. Stress harms decision-making by making your brain develop information in a less stable way.
Stress can also affect financial decision-making, with an increase cost of living, personal debt, rising inflation rates and stagnant wages. Financial matters cause stress to almost everyone. Some have a healthy anxiety around money matters that help them make smart financial decisions, while for others that stress can lead to bad financial choices. Living paycheck to paycheck can make you extremely stressed about making payments on time, and too much debt makes it difficult for you to get a mortgage or a loan. Financial problems can have a large effect, the deeper you get in debt, the harder it becomes to get out. In horrible cases, these circumstances can lead to bankruptcy or foreclosures. Financial stress affects all ages, millennials are dealing with student loans at the same time people are finding out they didn’t save enough money for retirement. Lack of money or the hardship of debt impact long-term decision-making. The younger generations are choosing to put off marriage and buying a home together, and older generations are postponing retirement.
Stress is the most leading cause to not making the best decisions. Next time you are feeling stressed out try avoiding any important decisions until you are clear of mind. Being more relaxed when you are stressed will help you make thoughtful based decisions rather then emotion decisions. I have endured life challenges, symptoms of stress and financial struggle, which is why I chose to talk about these in my essay.