Decision making, multitasking and stress: Who is to blame?

Decision making and multitasking are only two instances in our daily routines that put tremendous strain on our brains. The human brain is a complex muscle full of nerves and responsible for every thought, action, response, move and reaction we make. Our constant quest for more choices and the need to feel as though we have accomplished something each day puts our brains under pressure and leaving us regretting some of our actions. Think about a time in your life when you made a decision that you have come to regret now or perhaps something you said that sounded good inside of your head but came out as a smoking pile of ka-ka. Were you under stress at that moment? Maybe you were in line at the coffeehouse and on the phone with your boss while checking your watch to be sure you got to a meeting on time? This is the multitasking overload we press on our minds.

It is easy for us to find someone or something to blame for those instances that lead us down a negative path instead of looking at ourselves with the realization that we are our own worst enemy. Pick up a magazine and notice how many items are related to stress and its negative effects on your mind, heart, health and general well-being. We blame stress for heart attacks, high blood pressure, increased weight, headaches, lack of sleep, aches and pains and depression just to name a few. But, who is it that is allowing us to be so stressed that we are hurting ourselves, we are. People in the workforce feel stress, especially in this economy, just to keep their jobs. This pushes them into longer hours, more multitasking so they can stay ahead of fellow workers and less rest. Students feel this stress due to exams, meeting scholarship or financial aid qualifications so they can continue their educations and family (or ourselves) asking what we are going to do after we graduate. Parents feel stress because of how they are rated on their parenting abilities by others (is my child fat, unpopular, a bully, got a learning disability), thinking about providing for their child’s future and keeping the house clean.

I know that when I leave my house I always make sure I have my cell phone with me and find myself feeling my pocket sometimes because I feel some phantom vibration which might be a missed call. I subconsciously found myself having my phone and keys in my hand at all times when out in stores instead of putting them in my purse. The stresses that we complain about are ours to bear; however, we also have control over how much it affects us. Laughter is one amazing medicine as is spending time with a loved one, good friends or a pet. Let’s not forget how scent and sound affects our mood. It was recently stated in an edition of Good Housekeeping magazine that a study was done with mothers who were shown pictures of nature in the country and pictures of city life. The study revealed that the women who viewed the photographs of the country had a reduced heart rate and blood pressure than those women who were viewing the photographs of the city.

Lying in bed and stressing over bills, work or life can be controlled. I don’t necessarily feel that this stress is due to us having too many choices or too much information to process; I believe in fact that we are to blame for the stress we feel because we have the tools necessary to control it. We just don’t hone them. My mother always told me not to stress, but, to prioritize instead so things aren’t so overwhelming. Maybe this is good advice for us all to take.

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