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Overcome the stress of perfection

Overcome the stress of perfection

Having high expectations for yourself can be a good thing. It can help you excel at your job and in class. But having standards that are too high can lead to stress and feelings of frustration when they’re not met.

Perfectionism is the tendency to set standards so high, they’re unattainable or only met with great difficulty. Someone who has perfectionist tendencies believes that anything short of perfect is a problem and fears making mistakes.

The effects of perfectionism

Feelings. Perfectionism can cause you to feel depressed, frustrated, anxious, and even angry. If you tend to criticize yourself for not doing what you think is a good job, these feelings can be more intense.

Thinking. You might think anything less than perfect is a failure. You may believe your self-worth depends on your achievements and that others judge you based on your accomplishments.

Behaviors. Perfectionism can cause you to chronically procrastinate, have difficulty completing tasks, or give up easily on something because you don’t feel it’s perfect. Perfectionism can also keep you from being creative and innovative.

Mental health. Perfectionism is related to eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and stress.

So how can you tell if perfectionism has gotten out of hand? Ask yourself:

  • Is it difficult for me to meet my own expectations?
  • Do I feel frustrated, depressed, anxious, or angry when I try to meet my standards?
  • Do my standards get in the way of doing what I want or need to do?
  • Do they make it difficult for me to meet deadlines, finish a task, trust others, or be spontaneous?

Tips for overcoming perfectionism

Think realistically. Challenge negative self-talk with realistic statements and self-compassion. For example, when you start to be overly critical of yourself, try to be kind and remind yourself nobody is perfect.

Try a new perspective. When you don’t meet your own expectations, try and view yourself as a friend would. They’d probably highlight positive things. Sure, you didn’t work out five days last week, but you made it to the gym three times and that’s a perfectly reasonable amount.

Conquer procrastination. Perfectionists tend to put off to dos because they may be unsure how to do something perfectly. Try practicing self-compassion for overcoming procrastination.

Create realistic expectations. You have a limited amount of time and energy. Try to spend these resources on projects, assignments, and other things that are most important. Prioritizing your to do list and setting SMART goals can help you set realistic expectations.

Allow yourself to make mistakes. You might fear making mistakes, but making them is a completely natural and expected part of human existence. After you make a few mistakes, you’ll realize it’s not the worst that can happen.

The content in this post is adapted from Anxiety BC®’s guide on “How to overcome perfectionism.”

6 tips for creative self-care

6 tips for Creative Self Care

We’re almost halfway through the semester! At this point, staff and students alike are feeling drained and worn out.

It’s easy to not take care of ourselves as well as we should. Of course, classic self-care techniques like exercise, a healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep are essential for a successful term.

If you’re looking to boost your self-care practice and find some much needed motivation and energy, try some of our creative self-care strategies.

  • Learn to say no. It’s okay to be picky with your commitments! If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed with everything you have to do, prioritize which activities are essential to your values, goals and wellbeing. And then practice saying no to the rest.
  • Unplug for an evening. Reduce mental clutter by turning off your phone and getting off the internet. Reconnect with a friend, take a quiet walk outside, go to a coffee shop and read for pleasure, or people watch.
  • Practice gratitude. Studies show taking time to express gratitude for others in our lives increases our overall happiness. Try it out! Write a brief letter to someone you’re grateful for. Be sure to write specific reasons why you’re thankful for this person and how they make you feel. You could even give them the letter and brighten their day as well.
  • Get cleaning! Having a clean, organized space for living and working can reduce stress and even depression. Clutter is distracting and causes unnecessary stress in your brain. Plus, cleaning can be relaxing and even give you a little exercise!
  • Take a different route to class. Routines can help us stay organized, but sometimes they make us feel stuck in a rut. Small, intentional changes in your daily routines can help you cope with day to day stress. Plus, maybe you’ll see something new on campus, or meet someone new!
  • Write a list of your best tips. Self-care is all about you! Sit down and write a list of things that help you feel relaxed and restored. It could be as simple as taking a shower, taking a walk, or petting a dog. Keep this list on hand as a cheat sheet for when you’re tired and stressed.

Do you have any creative self-care ideas of your own that you’d like to share? Come visit us on Facebook at WSU Coug Health and share your favorite self-care strategy.

Looking for ways to better manage stress and improve well-being? Check out our full list of helpful workshops on CougSync.