Did you know that letting go of perfectionism comes with one unexpected result?
*cue nail-biting suspense*
I’ve written about how perfectionism negatively affects us many times before. Well, my friend, there’s one way perfectionism shows up for us, that we haven’t talked about yet.
Perfectionism doesn’t only affect us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It doesn’t only show up in our relationships, in our work, and in everyday life situations. It affects us physically as well.
That’s right… overcoming perfectionism helps relieve stress, tension, and physical pain.
Now, I realize the topic of stress relief is very broad. In this blog post, I’m not going to give you EVERY single tip when it comes to dealing with stress or go over EVERY stress-busting strategy there is, but just the ones that I’ve found to be helpful in overcoming perfectionism.
Let’s get to it.
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How overcoming perfectionism helps relieve stress
As with any fear, perfectionism manifests itself in our body. You might not have realized it before, but the anxious, stressed-out feeling of perfectionism shows up as stress and tension in different parts of our body.
Let’s talk a little bit about how.
Perfectionism can cause:
A lump in your throat
Tightness in your shoulders, neck, and jaw
Clenching of the jaw
Grinding your teeth
Painful shoulder muscles
Rapid and shallow breathing
Shortness of breath
Heart palpitations or chest pains
A pit in your stomach
Clenching of your fists
Tightness in your legs, and/or
Flexing or pointing your feet
One or two of these symptoms might jump out for you. Or you might recognize all of them.
These symptoms aren’t exclusive to perfectionism. This is how fear and stress typically shows up for us.
The problem is, though, that we rarely pay attention to these symptoms. We don’t see them as warning signs, because we’re so used to just ‘muscling through’.
We let the feeling of being rushed that we feel in our body invade every aspect of our life. Our life feels rushed. We feel like we need to rush through our work and work harder, do more, get more done. Our body hurts, but we don’t know how to make it stop hurting. We aren’t able to shut off our brain at night, because the thoughts keep rushing through our mind. We go to bed later and get up earlier and don’t get nearly enough of the rest we so desperately need. We’re always ‘on’ and never ‘off’.
All of this makes it more difficult to fight off perfectionism. I don’t know about you but I need all of my mental faculties to recognize when my perfectionism creeps in (it can be a sneaky bastard!) and stop it dead in its tracks and I can’t do that when I’m rushed, tired, stressed, sleep deprived, and burnt out.
Stress relief tips for perfectionists
1. Know your symptoms
From the list of symptoms of stress, tension, and physical pain mentioned earlier, pick the ones that jump out for you.
Do you regularly have tension headaches or extremely tight and painful shoulder muscles? Consider if these symptoms are caused by your perfectionism.
Hopefully knowing your symptoms is helpful for you, because it isn’t always easy to identify if we’re affected by perfectionism when we’re in the middle of it. Usually, looking back is when we see what we couldn’t see in the moment.
Now, when you find yourself clenching your jaw, you can ask yourself: “Is this my perfectionism at work?”
2. Loosen up
If the answer is YES, then there are some helpful things you can in that moment when you’re caught up in perfectionism.
The first thing you should do is to physically loosen up. Stand up and walk around. Dance a little and shake your limbs. Loosen those muscles.
Now, I realize that some of this isn’t possible when you’re at the office or in the middle of the grocery store. But, at the very least, you can roll your shoulders to loosen them up.
3. Box breathing
Another technique I’ve found to be really effective is box breathing. Box breathing means you breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, and sit still for four seconds before taking your next breath.
Do this four times and you’ll find yourself easing up, both mentally and physically.
4. Daily practices
And finally, there are many other things you can do to de-stress on a day-to-day basis. Think about things like journaling, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness exercises.
Another great thing to do is to use anti-perfection affirmations. Not only do affirmations create major shifts in your mindset, but they also remind you that being your perfectly imperfect self is enough and that you’re good enough just the way you are.
Okay superstar, I hope this post was helpful and, at the very least, thought-provoking. Next time you find yourself caught up in a perfectionism-induced stressful moment, use one or more of these 4 tips to help you snap right out of it.
Need a little help letting go of your perfectionism? Then make sure to download your FREE copy of my perfectionism-busting workbook. Just click the button below.
Hi there! I’m Wendy, perfectionism coach and host of the #perfectionistproblems community for recovering perfectionists. I’m insanely passionate about helping you overcome your perfectionism, so that you can stop caring so much about what other people think and finally take on those dream projects that you've been putting off for so long.