4 CBT Based Tips for Overcoming Perfectionism

The extra demands combined with the typical stress around the holidays can cause most of us to fall into the trap rigid thinking and the belief that life should be idyllic. If you struggle with anxiety, this season can be an especially difficult time. Perfectionism is something cognitive behavioral therapists see often. Here are some good  CBT-based tips on how to help yourself during the rest of 2017

Do Not Strive For Perfect

 Perfectionism is a self-imposed unrealistic expectation and the subsequent stringent judgments CBT skills for perfectionismon you, others, or a situation. You are with yourself every day and you see every mistake you make, so we tend to have quite a long checklist of our real and perceived mishaps. When you focus on self-defeating thoughts, you become hypercritical and begin to put more weight on the negative aspects of oneself. Inevitably, this leads to depression, low-self esteem, and a sense of frustration.  Of course, this isn’t beneficial to you and the people who love you. When you find yourself revisiting that list of mistakes, it’s time to combat them by a CBT technique termed a ‘positive data log’.  Write down events that were ‘good enough’, or events that were just fine in spite of being imperfect you begin to be more flexible, and your all or nothing mindset can be reduced.

Stop Comparing

With so many social media apps, unrealistic advertising, and other messages promoting perfectionism, it’s impossible to not compare your life with an idealized sample of others. For perfectionists, it’s not easy to remember to take a step back and assess reality. When we engage in perfectionistic comparison, we typically measure ourselves next to someone we already think is ‘better’ in some way. However, all that time comparing can have real consequences. A recent study among Facebook and Twitter users showed 62% feel inadequate and 60% feel jealous when using social media. The same study found half of participants from 18-34 felt ugly due after time online.

Are co-workers, ex’s, or family on social media fueling your feelings of inadequacy and stress? If you want to kick perfectionism to the curb, un-follow your “competition”, and kindly remind yourself that social media is not a representation of reality, even if just over the holidays.

Temper Family Expectations

Family can cause a lot of distress around the holidays, and even more so when you have lofty expectations.  There is already enough pressure around this time of the year without adding perfectionism to the mix. Remember, you can’t control the actions of your family, but you can control your own. Part of walking the walk is that you can identify and reduce acting and thinking in ways that are not productive.

Trying to change others can be akin to entering a faulty debit card pin at checkout. You are in a hurry, and your code won’t work. Instead of admitting defeat, you continue to enter the same thing with growing frustration. Your blood pressure is rising, as is that of the cashier and the people behind you in line. All of this stress and anxiety could have been avoided if you simply stopped repeating the same unproductive habits and expectations.

Beat Perfectionism by Shifting Perspectives- An Experiment in CBT

 On days when everything goes wrong, take a minute to consider how much worse things could be to shift your negative perspective. The following are three other tricks to engage your positive lens.

1.Incorporate a daily gratitude practice. According to CBT research, gratitude improves mental health, emotional health, sleep, and self-esteem. Each morning, night, or both write down 5 things you are grateful for, and that is all.

2. Acknowledge Your Power. Cognitive behavioral therapists emphasize that it’s vital to recognize that we all have control to choose our perspectives.  We choose which thoughts to pay attention. Reorienting yourself to the positive can add more value and warmth to the way you experience your life.

3.Take a Breather. Meditation is helpful not only in shifting perspectives but reducing perfectionism and anxiety. You don’t have to sit and hum for an hour to access this relaxed state. Check out this blog to find useful techniques: Can’t Meditate? Think Again: 10 of the Best CBT Hacks to Trick Your Brain into Bliss.

In Part 3, I’ll be discussing cognitive-behavioral approaches to coping with loneliness over the holidays. As always, please let me know how these tips work for you. Other ideas? Please share. Enjoy the rest of your month and experiment with your new tools.  What to know more about cognitive behavioral therapy? Click here for an FAQ: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy/CBT in San Diego

Part I: How to Keep the ‘Happy’ in your Holidays

Part 2: 4 CBT Based Tips for Overcoming Perfectionism

Part 3: 10 Ways to Ward off Loneliness

Part 4: 7 Secrets to Making Your New Years Resolution Stick

How to Keep the ‘Happy’ in Your Holidays – Part 1 in a 4-Part Series

 

Look around in any store and you’ll find early reminders of what’s ahead of us- spending quality time with we people love, great food, awesome parties, and the list goes on. Of course, these are what we all hope our holiday season will be made of, but that’s not always the case. Even in the best of situations, people struggle with excessive commitments, unrealistic expectations, and financial pressures. If any of those sound familiar, you may be wondering how to manage holiday stress this year. In this 4-part series, you will find a way to manage the top holiday mental health concerns and start your 2018 fresh instead of frazzled.

4 Tips on Coping During the Holidays from a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist in San DiegoPart 1: Start Now, Not Later

 Early November can feel too early to even consider digging into holiday preparation, but if you want to enjoy some bliss this December start the ball rolling now. Planning helps you take back control, and the time to plan your upcoming holiday season is here! It is much easier to attack the extra demands on your time early in the game. Why? You are more objective when you are not in a time crunch.

Tip #1: Give Yourself Time

One of the most effective ways to kick the holiday dumps is to use planning to your advantage. An important rule to use during this time of the year is to assume everything will take 2 times as long as you think. When you pull out your planner to arrange your upcoming errands, it can be hard to remember how time-consuming many of the demands are. This can lead to overbooking and excessive commitments, which leads to unnecessary stress and anxiety.

Tip #2: Don’t Forget Yourself

This may be the most important tip on the list. It is easy to get so caught up in the swirl of holiday activities you forget to spend time with yourself. However, reserving chunks of personal time will help you keep what is important in perspective. When we neglect to care for ourselves, falling into the familiar holiday blues becomes easier. Need ideas? Check out some clever ways to enjoy the moment in front of you. 

Tip #3: Prioritize

This holiday season ask yourself honestly: what and who is truly important? What can go to theside if I begin to feel overwhelmed or rushed? Although it can be hard, learn to say no to things you do not actually want or need to do. If you are having trouble figuring out how to prioritize, look to your values. Values, not external expectations, will guide you during this time. Don’t know what your core values are? Here is a great exercise to use to figure out what is truly important to you, so that you can put your priorities in order.

Tip #4: Practice Mindful Gifting

We all know this state of awareness is the best way to go about our day. What you may not have known is you can also practice mindful gifting. When we have time to be leisurely about purchasing gifts, we tend to think more deeply about the person we are gifting for. If you take this time now, the gifts you give will mean

much more to the recipient and yourself. Set aside some chunks of time as soon as possible for reflection. During this time, make a list of each receiver and write down what they truly like and enjoy. If you do not yet know, keep an eye out for clues.

Holiday Stress and Depression

Holiday stress and depression can extend into your new year if not dealt with sooner than later. The aforementioned tips and tricks have helped me answer the question of how to manage holiday stress through planning. However, there may be times when you need more help to deal with your anxiety. Finding the best cognitive behavioral therapist for you can be another important tool in your box when dealing with the holiday blues.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, you may want to read Combat the Holiday Blues by Helping Others for additional tips and ideas.

Part I: How to Keep the ‘Happy’ in your Holidays

Part 2: 4 CBT Based Tips for Overcoming Perfectionism

Part 3: 10 Ways to Ward off Loneliness this Season

Part 4: 7 Secrets to Making Your New Years Resolution Stick