No one is perfect… that’s why pencils have erasers. – Author Unknown
Being a perfectionist can crank your stress level during the holiday season. Folks go the extra mile or two to create those perfect holiday touches. But when are those extra touches too much?
What can kick holiday perfectionism into motion?
Holiday time triggers different feelings and memories in all of us. Holiday stress can start with trying to get back that feeling you had as a child. Television commercials or other advertisements can push guilt buttons and create an unrealistic idea of what makes a perfect holiday season.
To make matters worse, there is such pressure to get into the holiday spirit earlier each year. Decorations are out in retail stores in October, lurking behind the Halloween pumpkins and skeletons. The anxiety to get everything done gets kicked up a notch two months earlier.
What is perfectionism?
According to the dictionary, perfectionism is a tendency for being unhappy with anything that is not perfect or does not meet extremely high standards. In this case, the perfectionist focuses on what isn’t done and can feel let down if the expectation was not met.
There is a fine line between going the extra mile and perfectionism. There are some activities that people just love to do every holiday season. Some people enjoy baking a special family cookie recipe every year. Others love to wrap gifts, adding handmade bows and ornaments. The need to be perfect can be invasive, and bleed over into everything you plan or do. The high demands of perfectionism can truly increase your stress, exhaustion and disappointment,
Being perfect is not a real goal
Shannon, mother of two shared her overwhelming holiday stress. She told me how she stayed up late every night to prepare for the holiday, only getting four hours of sleep. “I just want everything to be perfect.” I asked her what a perfect holiday was like and she sat in silence for a moment. “I’m not quite sure,” she said. “I see a home with the extra finishing decorating touches-candles, perfectly trimmed tree and everyone thrilled with their gifts.” She then went on in detail how dinner, time with her children, other family, office parties and other activities were to play out. Shannon sat exhausted in her chair with an empty, hollow look in her eyes. She felt disappointed, despite all the work she had done.
Warning signs of holiday perfectionism
Here are some warning signs that you might be a holiday perfectionist:
• There is no room left on your calendar, especially time for you
• You push yourself past your physical and emotional limits
• You put yourself down for not getting a task completed to your standards
• You feel like everything you are doing is just not good enough
What can you do from here?
Do what matters most. Look at what the holiday season means to you. Be clear about your priorities of what is most important in how you want to spend your time. This will help you fill your time with people, places and things most important to you.
Be aware of perfectionist tendencies. Now that you are aware of some examples of perfectionism, you might see some thoughts or behaviors you’d like to change. Know what triggers you tp procrastinate or push yourself over the limit
Ask for help. Be careful not to fall into the trap of doing everything yourself. It’s easy to slip into thinking that no one can do the task like you. Or, it takes too much time for someone else to do the present wrapping. So it would be much easier for you to do it. Those are signs that you might have taken on too much.
For every yes, say no. Scan your calendar and make sure you have blocked off time for you. It’s so important to fill you up so you can keep going during this stressful time. Know that if you try to do everything, you leave yourself open to exhaustion and possible illness
Falling into holiday perfectionism can spoil the joy of the season. Be aware of the warning signs and free yourself from the high stress this holiday season