Updated: Aug 29, 2019
The holiday season is supposed to be a time for peace, love and togetherness, but for holiday perfectionists, stress and discontent can often over shadow the holly jolly feelings generally associated with this time of year.
Being a perfectionist does not mean you necessarily do everything right. It means holding yourself to impossible and unrealistic expectations. Even when others brag on your efforts and work, you find yourself less than satisfied with the finished product. You are overly critical with yourself when you make a mistake, or simply think that you did. The standard you live by is the “mythical perfect", as quoted by Katherine Broadway, published author and Licensed Professional Counselor in Raleigh, NC.
Having unrealistic expectations of yourself and others during the holidays can literally suck the happiness and joy out of you, as well as, those around you.
Whether you spend weeks searching for the perfect gifts, fret and fumble to capture the perfect holiday moment on your cell phone, or over work yourself into a frenzy, attempting to prepare the perfect meal, the overwhelming urge to make sure everything is one-hundred and ten percent is often at its peak during the holiday season.
So, how do you ease up on your perfectionist tendencies during such an important time of year? Below are five tips designed to help holiday perfectionists, lower stress levels and keep the majority of their sanity, throughout the holidays and well into the New Year.
1. Decide on a budget- Often times, perfectionists go above and beyond in the gift giving department. Stop it. Before you begin preparing for the holidays, first you must decide how much you can afford to spend without breaking the bank. Spending less money and more quality time with loved ones is not only acceptable, it's actually preferred by those who love and care for you for the right reasons.
2. Prioritize and organize- Think about which holiday tasks are most important and make plans to complete those things first if possible. Map out a seasonal prep schedule by allotting time frames for things like cooking, shopping and Christmas card writing. Organizing future tasks helps create a sense of inner calmness and calmness most generally promotes sanity, unless you happen to be at a George Straight concert, in which case, calmness nor sanity lead a southern woman’s list of top priorities.
3. Delegate tasks- Delegating a few responsibilities, whether it is recruiting help with wrapping, cooking or decorating can save you valuable time, make you feel less overwhelmed, while still maintaining a sense of control over the big holiday picture. Don't be afraid to put your kids to work. Don't have kids? Ask to borrow the neighbor's.
4. Set boundaries- Limiting yourself to x,y,z will keep you from over committing to events and tasks that deep down you really don’t care to be responsible for. Being able to say no without feeling guilty is necessary to set boundaries with others, especially during the holidays. Learn how to say no gracefully, click here.
5. Acknowledge the good- Focusing on what you are thankful for is crucial in letting go of commonly felt stress to perfect everything during the holidays. Spending time acknowledging things you are grateful for and what is right with the world is a wonderful way to distract yourself from those undone minor details. (Pssst… it really is okay that you didn't get around to baking your mail carrier a loaf of banana nut bread this year. He probably didn’t need the extra calories anyway.)
Misti Luke is a licensed mental health professional currently in private practice in beautiful Broken Bow, Oklahoma. For questions, or to schedule an appointment www.mistiluke.com