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5 Ways Perfectionism Might Be Destroying Your Mental Health

Mother with her child cuddling on couch

For a lot of mothers, they try their best to not only raise and provide for their families, but also keep the boat afloat, so to speak. They are very meticulous about planning every little detail, for better or for worse. Everything has to work the way it’s supposed to, nothing can look off, discolored, crooked or wrong, and everyone must be on time - all the time. In other words, life is supposed to look picture perfect from the outside, even when it’s nowhere near perfect from within.

Unfortunately, this quest for perfectionism can have a negative effect on a mother’s heath. After all, there is only so much you can give during a certain amount of time. But for many moms, they don’t see it that way. They want to be a wife and mother at home, a volunteer at school, the best CEO they can be in the office, and their child’s volleyball coach on the weekends. They want to do it all with perfectly coifed hair and the best-looking nails imaginable. Little do they know though that the more perfect they try to become, the more miserable they end up from within.

Here are 5 different ways that perfectionism might be destroying your mental health.

1. Your Actions Are Extreme

Having a perfectionist mindset isn’t easy to live with. If you constantly find yourself advertising your own perfectionism (whether it’s on social media, Pinterest, or in person with your friends), or avoid situations where you might end up looking less than perfect, you are definitely missing out on many things. Skipping out on a relative’s wedding because you haven’t found the right dress (or lost that winter weight) or not attending your child’s soccer game because your appearance on a Saturday morning is less than stellar might be taking things to the extreme.

2. Lack Of Trust

You expect to do each and every one of your projects (along with everyone else’s) on your own. You don’t allow your mother-in-law to babysit your children, just because you’re not there. And you don’t let your husband do the grocery shopping at Costco because you’re afraid that he might screw up – yet again. When you aren’t giving people the trust they deserve, you will end up running yourself in circles trying to get everything done on your own. No one has the stamina or the energy to be a one-woman band all the time.

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3. You Fixate Your Failures

If you are constantly fixated on your failures to the point that you can’t even sleep at night, you’ll find yourself not only tired, but also regretting all of the smallest actions the next day. Remember, perfectionism is a behavioral problem. Luckily, a good counselor or therapist can help you replace your negative reactions with a positive one. No one should beat themselves up over the smallest mistakes made in life. After all, everyone makes them.

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4. Unrealistic Expectations

Many mothers want their family to look picture perfect. They set up appointments with the best photographer in town, buy matching Vineyard Vines t-shirts (in white no less) for the entire family, and expect everyone to cooperate and be on their best behavior during their family’s photography session. Unfortunately, your husband is running late, your teenage son didn’t bother to brush his hair and your 2ndgrader has chocolate (that he hid from you) all over his hands, his mouth, and his white t-shirt. And worse, the photographer charges by the hour. You now find yourself completely stressed out because you know that the photo will look less than perfect. Rather than accept your family members for who they are, you have unrealistic expectations for them. Something as small as a family portrait has you feeling stressed out more than it should. Remember, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, not the outside.

5. You Procrastinate

Another sign of perfectionism is if you find yourself often procrastinating chores, projects or responsibilities that you haven’t taken on yet, just because you are scared to. And the reason why you feel scared, is because you think you won’t do a good – or perfect job – on them. Health experts agree that perfectionism is unhealthy when you focus more on avoiding failure than on striving for success. If you find yourself procrastinating all the time, try cognitive therapy. A good therapist should help work with you and your negative patterns of thought about the self and the world are challenged. He or she should also help alter unwanted behavior patterns or treat mood disorders such as depression.

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