How to Keep the Happy in Your Holidays 2023: Part 2 in a 4-Part Series- CBT Based Tips for Managing Perfectionism
The extra demands combined with the typical stress around the holidays can cause many 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 2023 and into the New Year.
Do Not Strive For Flawless
Perfectionism is a self-imposed expectations and the subsequent stringent judgments on 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 it’s easier to see things in a more useful way.
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 TikTok users reflected disruptions in sleep, low self-esteem and overall lower life satisfaction after approximately 30 minutes of scrolling through social media.
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 (or kindly mute) 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. The behaviors may be known and comfortable, yet stress and anxiety could have been avoided if you simply stopped repeating the same unproductive habits and expectations.
Beat Perfectionism by Shifting Perspectives- A CBT Experiment
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. Apps like 5 Minute Journal can remind you to practice journaling, and it’s easy to complete.
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 3: 10 Ways to Ward off Loneliness