One-Third of Americans Report Having a Harder Time Making Basic Decisions Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

It goes without saying that life has seemed more complicated since the pandemic began. New research shows that common, ordinary tasks and everyday decision-making have actually become more of a challenge for at least a third of the population due to COVID-19. For people of color, the problem is even more pronounced.

Elizabeth Chuck of NBC News reported that “stress from the pandemic has people struggling to make decisions large and small, with nearly a third of adults questioning even basic day-to-day choices.”

According to Chuck, the American Psychological Association’s new “Stress in America” survey, which was conducted by the Harris Poll and involved interviews with more than 3,000 individuals, “found that 32% of adults are so stressed by the pandemic, they sometimes wrestle with daily tasks, such as choosing what to eat or what to wear.”

In an interview with NBC News, Vaile Wright, a clinical psychologist and the senior director of health care innovation at the American Psychological Association, said, “our bodies don’t differentiate where the stress is coming from — they just know we’re stressed. So, when that level of uncertainty starts to overwhelm our coping mechanisms, even the smallest tasks can start to feel overwhelming.”

Chuck reported on some of the survey’s findings, which include:

  • Parents, young adults and people of color were the most likely to report feeling overwhelmed by common everyday tasks
  • 47% of parents reported that they regularly struggle to make basic decisions vs. just 24% of nonparents
  • People between the ages of 25 and 42 were the most likely to have their decision-making ability impacted due to COVID-19, with 48% of respondents saying they felt an immense impact from the past two years. Thirty-seven percent of Gen-Z adults between the ages of 18 to 24 also said they struggle to make decisions. In contrast, just 3% of respondents 76 and older said they had been significantly impacted.
  • In addition to problems with making decisions, 74% of adults said stress from the pandemic also regularly left them with headaches and feelings of being overwhelmed. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed also said the pandemic forced them to examine how they live their lives and what they want to change about it. Forty-nine percent of individuals felt the pandemic made planning for the future impossible.

The survey also revealed that individuals’ behaviors had also changed dramatically throughout the pandemic. “Twenty-four percent of the survey respondents were avoiding social situations, 23% were altering eating habits, and 22% were procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities or changing their physical activity levels,” Chuck reported.

Researchers found that a person’s race had a significant impact on how they dealt with COVID-19 stress.

“Hispanic and Black adults were more likely than white adults to say they are sometimes so stressed about the pandemic that they struggle to make these basic decisions,” Chuck reported. “Hispanic adults reported the highest levels of stress, on average, over the past month related to the pandemic.” 

Fortunately, most people continue to have hope things will eventually get better. Of the individuals that Harris polled, 70% said they were “confident that everything will work out after the pandemic ends.”


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