mental health

Strategies for Healing Perfectionism

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By Natalie Stamper, Psy.D

Perfectionism is a concept that plagues a wide array of people. When in full effect, it can provide both positive and negative benefits. In the long run, however, it is important to ensure it does not become an overwhelming force. Perfectionism can come from numerous sources, however, it can be dealt with by using several strategies.

Firstly, perfectionism can come from disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder (Star). It is typically brought out by an internal need to be better or in an ideal state created by one’s mind. It can also come from nagging fears about others’ perceptions of oneself. Living with a perfectionist mindset can become both mentally and emotionally exhausting. Additionally, perfectionism can hinder one’s ability to properly manage anxiety and the other symptoms that come with it (Star). Perpetuating the negative emotions of perfectionism by feeding into it will only bring more distress. When the desire to be perfect comes into mind frequently, it becomes a problem.

Let’s try being more mindful by addressing perfectionist thoughts head-on and recognizing when feelings of doubt and/or embarrassment are irrational. Furthermore, perfectionism can be challenged by an array of mindful methods. Professionals in mental health, as well as simple self-help practices, work well in combating anxiety (Star). Thinking about the “need” or “want” to be perfect, what it entails, and why one wants to reach perfection is another method that challenges oneself to delve into the root of perfectionist anxieties. Through deeply considering the nature of one’s anxieties, it becomes easier to dismantle them and deal with the thoughts that push us so hard to be perfect (Jacobs & Antony). If one is feeling courageous, seek out small things that can trigger feelings of anxiety due to perfectionism (Jacobs & Antony). These things can be as simple as missing a spot while cleaning the floor or “forgetting” to put a book away. In doing this, it becomes easier to get comfortable with imperfection and come to terms with it.

Perfectionism is a tricky feeling to deal with. It provides motivation, yet also leaves stressful and negative emotions in the back of one’s head. Managing it can be made trivial by trying to be more mindful and reducing stress. Perfection does not exist; in chasing after it, anxiety and stress will only follow. Remind yourself to relax sometimes and remember that mistakes aren’t inherently bad. Without them, no one would learn a thing.


References

Jacobs, Andrew M., and Martin M. Antony. “Strategies for Coping with the Need to Be Perfect.” Beyond OCD, BeyondOCD.org, beyondocd.org/expert-perspectives/articles/the-search-for-imperfection-strategies-for-coping-with-the-need-to-be-perfe#.

Star, Katharina. “How Perfectionism Can Contribute to Anxiety.” Verywell Mind, Verywell Mind, 20 May 2019, www.verywellmind.com/perfectionism-and-panic-disorder-2584391.

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Decluttering for Better Mental Health

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By Natalie Stamper, Psy.D

Cleaning can be a dreadful but necessary chore. We tend to put things like cleaning off. However, taking the time to declutter has proved to be a way to create harmony not only in your physical space but also your mental space.

Clutter can cause stress and is distracting, as additional objects within one’s line of sight can easily avert attention away from the task at hand (Swedish Medical Center). Additionally, stress from putting off cleaning can lead to different stress reactions, like stress eating (Swedish Medical Center). In turn, decluttering is capable of reducing triggered responses to high stress and leaves time for other, more engaging activities. The additional amount of time gained from having an organized home will aid in other healthy and productive habits, as well as reduce anxiety.

One well-known guru of home tidying is Marie Kondo, creator of the “KonMari Method™” and host of the Netflix original series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” “The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’ If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it,’” she writes in her #1 New York Times bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Goodreads). Kondo developed this method to help her clients and readers rid themselves of their needless possessions. It is important to ask oneself if everything one owns is essential for keeping.

Decluttering is an activity that creates a multitude of desirable benefits. Positive effects will become apparent as one goes. Having a clear mind and a clear space are two traits of a mindful individual. One will find that a cleaner environment may lessen stress and its symptoms. Take a moment to look around your things and clear out anything taking up too much space. It will feel good to know that action has been taken not only to make one’s space look nicer, but also to grow closer to gaining a more positive and stress-free mindset.


References

“How Decluttering Can Improve Physical and Mental Health.” Swedish, Swedish Medical Center, 16 May 2017, www.swedish.org/blog/2017/05/how-decluttering-can-improve-physical-and-mental-health.

“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Quotes by Marie Kondō.” Goodreads, Goodreads, www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/41711738.

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