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How To Stop Being A Holiday Perfectionist And Have Fun This Year


Nov. 28, 2015 Huffington Post

If you’re a perfectionist, chances are the impending aroma of turkey and the sound of jingle bells makes you a little bit nervous. Whether it’s your quest to find the perfect gift, the need to capture the perfect family moment or the desire to cook the perfect meal, the overwhelming drive to make sure everything goes according to plan is often at its peak during the holidays.

So how do you ease up on your perfectionism during such an important time? The solution isn’t about giving up control but forming a plan that works for you, says Michelle Carlstrom, senior director of Johns Hopkins University’s Office of Work, Life and Engagement.

“I would never say [to someone focused on perfection] to let go of control entirely, because having control is often what makes perfectionists feel calm,” Carlstrom tells The Huffington Post. “But there are so many moving pieces in the holiday marathon that you cannot have control over, you have to understand what you can manage and what you can’t.”

Luckily, there are ways to manage your perfectionism — without sacrificing your sanity. Below find five ways to let go of perfection during the holidays.

1. Prioritize and delegate each task and event.
When it comes to a full holiday calendar, Carlstrom says those who have a tendency toward perfectionism need to set boundaries and prioritize. “Whatever it is that you do, put your plan in place by thinking about what’s most important to you,” she says. “Is it socializing and holiday events? Is it family time? If you pick out the most important thing to you during the holiday season and how you work that in, you can remain in control of those parameters you set for yourself.”

Delegating responsibilities — whether it’s someone to help with the cooking or with setting up the party — can also help perfectionists let go without losing a sense of control. “Planning for what you’re going to do and not do helps establish boundaries,” she says. “Often times [perfectionists] manage too many commitments, but this way you still feel like you do maintain some control.”

2. Don’t overdo it.
In order to manage holiday stress, it’s important to have a plan in place — but be wary of going overboard. The challenge of putting up the perfect decorations or committing to too many holiday parties can trigger a perfectionist to break down, says Dr. Scott Bea, clinical psychologist and assistant professor of medicine at the Cleveland Clinic.

Avoidance behavior, he says, is common when perfectionists try to picture each task. “Perfectionists have a hard time starting something if they need a perfect outcome,” Bea told The Huffington Post. “If they can’t visualize the perfect end result, they’ll often start avoiding it altogether. Then things start to pile up and tasks mount.”

Establishing boundaries and only taking on a reasonable amount of work is the best way to tackle these tasks head on. “Holidays have so much to do with planning but not overcommitting — being able to say no without guilt is important,” Carlstrom said.

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