Home Thinking Aloud Top 7 Tips For Good Decision Making When Feeling Stressed Out

Top 7 Tips For Good Decision Making When Feeling Stressed Out


by Angela Civitella, founder of INTINDE

Whether you want to admit it’s a problem for you or not, stress has infected the American workplace. Just how bad is it? According to the American Institute of Stress, the stats are troubling:

  • 83% of U.S workers suffer from work-related stress.
  • U.S. businesses lose up to $300 billion yearly as a result of workplace stress.
  • Work-related stress causes 120,000 deaths and results in $190 billion in healthcare costs yearly.

November 3 is National Stress Awareness Day, and a good time to evaluate how stress impacts you at work and in life. One of the biggest challenges I hear from my coaching clients is that stress builds quickly, especially when there is too much going on and they are forced to make decisions on a moments notice.

Next time you find yourself in this situation, stop and remember these seven tips to better decision making when feeling stressed out.

1. Take a Breath.

Even when it seems like there is absolutely no time to stop and consider all of the details, pause for a moment and make sure you are making a decision based on reason, not desperation. Even just giving yourself a silent count to 10 and taking a deep breath may help bring you back to center and evaluate the merits of the choices before you.

2. Think About Next Year. Think About Last Year.

When we are faced with choices that require an immediate decision, it might feel like such a monumental moment that we have to go for it now or else we will have either missed our one big chance or have just this one time to avoid disaster. In reality, this is rarely the case. Try and picture yourself a year or more in the future. Do you think this choice will still be so important then, or will it even still be on your radar? What about similar situations you faced in the past? If you had decided a different way, would your life really be so much worse or better today?

3. Priorities.

When we find ourselves in a stressful position, it may be easy to lose track of priorities. We might feel like everything is riding on this moment or we have to act right now. With all of this stress we might find ourselves giving up something very valuable in exchange for something that turned out to not be worth it. Make sure you stay true to yourself, your colleagues and your loved ones when making any important decisions. Always protect yourself and act in your best interests and those of those around you. Don’t act in a way in which you will disappoint them or yourself.

4. Informed Gut Decision.

You should always try to obtain as much information as possible before making a big decision, but sometimes it really comes down to going with what feels right. However, if you find that you are trying to talk yourself into something, or if you are trying way too hard to shut that little voice inside of you up who keeps talking you out of it, you may want to pass.

5. Strings Attached (Watch Out!).

Remember that there is no such thing in life as a free lunch. Any offer, no matter how good it sounds, will have some strings attached. Make sure you fully understand all of the terms, conditions, and ramifications of any decision you make, or you might find that the gold you are reaching for is really your gilded cage.

6. Don’t Look Back. Don’t Forget.

For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. This is just as true when it comes to stressful decisions as anything else. The strong impulsive urge to decide is often followed by an equal amount of buyer’s remorse after the decision is made. Instead of putting yourself through the ringer, simply accept your decision and move on. Always keep looking forward, not back. A lot of times a decision that we regret will turn out to have unexpected benefits and turn out to be not so bad after all. If it really was a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. It’s okay to keep going as long as you don’t make the same mistake twice.

7. No Pressure.

There is one factor that should be a red flag when making a decision: pressure. Never let yourself be talked into doing something if you are unsure. Listen to the sales pitch and weigh the pros and cons, but don’t let yourself be conned by a pro. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t, and pressure is a clear indication that the best decision is to walk away.

The Takeaway.

Everyone experiences stress, especially in these crazy times we are living and working in. It doesn’t have to impact your ability to make important decisions. When you feel rushed and like you have to make a choice that second, it’s okay to stop, take a moment and carefully think about what is in front of you. The best leaders will tell you this can be a difficult part of the job, but like most things, the more you work at it the better you become.


Angela Civitella is founder of INTINDE, and a certified business leadership coach. She knows firsthand the rollercoaster ride of building a successful business, managing a team and working your way up the never-ending executive ladder. Angela has successfully transitioned from being a middle manager to being a top executive in her field, having taken over a multi-million dollar business and making it thrive. She went on to build a $60million+ international real estate firm, which she actively manages.