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The Perfectly Imperfect: Dealing With Holiday Perfectionism

Despite being a season of joy, two in five Brits feel stressed during the festive season, and 51% of women report stress during Christmas. Holiday perfectionism is one of the major causes of this stress. Whether it’s sourcing the perfect present, making the most delicious meal or hosting the most fabulous event, we want the holidays to be flawless.

However, with Christmas set to look very different this year for many people, it has never been more important to embrace the perfectly imperfect. With Coronavirus set to disrupt many visions of a perfect Christmas, how can we better manage our expectations for the holidays and nip holiday perfectionism in the bud?

What Is Holiday Perfectionism?

Holiday perfectionism can lead to high levels of stress, unhappiness, and disappointment if everything around the festive season doesn’t go to plan. Typically, perfectionists will go all out in every holiday activity. Often, the reason is not to make it perfect for themselves, but others. Unfortunately, the Christmas build-up then involves high demands and busyness, with very little enjoyment.

It is important to differentiate holiday perfectionists from holiday high-achievers. Holiday high-achievers want to fill the festivities with lots of activities to create lasting memories. However, they don’t mind if not every activity happens or goes according to plan. The focus is on having fun, rather than worrying that everything has to get done.

The Problem With Perfectionism

It is no wonder that many of us have high expectations for Christmas. With Christmas films, adverts and social media, it is easy to think that the festive season has to be magical. These ideas are often impossible to live up to. Instead, many people run themselves into the ground, trying to create the perfect Christmas. This is a job that is even harder this year when there may be many more restrictions on whom we can see and spend Christmas with.

The pressure to create Christmas perfection causes a huge amount of holiday stress. Added with the fact that Christmas may not look quite how we want it to, it may mean you miss out on any enjoyment during the festive season.

While sharing and celebrating may look a little different this year, it is important to treasure the moments of joy in the holidays and feel satisfaction at what is possible, such as video calls, for example. After all, a happy Christmas is what you’re seeking, not a time of overwhelm, resentment and unhappiness.

How To Beat Holiday Perfectionism

Be Imperfect!

This will go against your nature, so it will be something you need to practise. However, practising doing things mostly-well rather than brilliantly will give you more control. For example, it may be worthwhile setting time limits for certain tasks, and if it’s not perfect but good enough, then you leave it and move onto something else.

See how it feels to deliver something good but not ideal. If it’s a struggle, try journaling your thoughts around it and why you are trying to achieve perfection – is it for you or others? If it is for others, will they notice?

Consider Your Mood

If you’re trying so hard to make others happy, consider how your emotions may affect the people around you. If they see that you are unhappy, stressed or overwhelmed, this may affect their happiness. By focusing on feeling happy yourself, you create a happier, more comfortable atmosphere. This puts others at ease so they feel they can enjoy themselves.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t own how you feel, and it is completely OK to feel whatever emotion you have. However, if your unhappiness stems from a fear that others are not enjoying themselves, then consider that finding happiness within yourself may be more important to your loved ones than you working tirelessly to create unachievable ‘perfection’.

Share The Load

The festive season is all about sharing with loved ones, even if that can’t always be in person. With this, you can lighten the load on yourself by calling on others to help. It could be as simple as calling a friend to talk about your stress levels. Perhaps your partner can share cooking duties or adopting a Secret Santa for gift-giving rather than buying for everyone.

Remember, the holidays are about making happy memories. Looking back, people will remember how they felt, rather than all of the finishing touches you were stressing over. With all that has gone on in 2020, it is so important to end this year on the highest note possible!

If you need more support managing perfectionist tendencies or if the festive season is causing stress and anxiety, then hypnotherapy can help. Together, we can work out where these feelings stem from and how to reprogram your behaviours and responses for a calmer, happier Christmas.


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