Managing Your Perfectionism During the Holidays


Warning: in_array() [function.in-array]: Wrong datatype for second argument in /home/content/90/7894890/html/wp-content/plugins/facebook-button-plugin/facebook-button-plugin.php on line 244

Warning: in_array() [function.in-array]: Wrong datatype for second argument in /home/content/90/7894890/html/wp-content/plugins/facebook-button-plugin/facebook-button-plugin.php on line 246


Heightened emotions make the holidays a challenging time. A range of intense feelings occur at once, joy and happiness can simultaneously exist with sadness and frustration. Having multiple feeling states is not always easy; it increases stress and self-hurting defenses. One hurtful defense often experienced during the holidays is perfectionism. Perfectionism is the motivation to have things done “the best”, not “the best way possible”, but “the best”. This makes perfectionism a goal that is impossible to meet, setting us up for hard thoughts down the road like failure. So here are 5 things you can do to tackle your perfectionism during the holiday.

1. Recognize its happening. Like with anything, insight is an important part of feeling free. You first have to see it in yourself before you can take action.
2. Remember that stress and perfectionism are linked. The more stress you have the more perfect things will have to be.
3. Watch for the growing list, as the perfectionism grows so does the “to do” list. All of a sudden you don’t just need wrapping paper, but you need an exact color, and bows, and a specific type of gift tag. These details will increase your anxiety.
4. Force yourself to stop. When in the store and you feel like your house absolutely needs this or your dinner table absolutely needs that, stop yourself. Take a deep breath; ask yourself what is motivating you in that moment. The need for perfectionism is probably connected to something deeper.
5. Walk away. When you feel that need for more because things aren’t just right, walk away and take a break. Leave the store, go sit in the car, go read a book, take a nap. Allow yourself a break so you can think about it later, reassess the situation, and make an informed decision.

Anxiety can feel like it’s taking over, doing these things can help you slow yourself down so you don’t feed it. Managing your perfectionism during the holidays will help you be present more in the moment and enjoy yourself more. Don’t let it slip by on you, do these things so you can relax, enjoy yourself, and have the memories of holidays past.


Leave a Reply

Patricia O’Laughlin, licensed therapist and Art Therapist, providing EMDR and therapy to individuals, couples, teens, and adults. Silver Lake/Los Feliz, Los Angeles. therapy@patriciaolaughlin.com or (323)761-2221.