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How Perfectionism Affects Anxiety

by Laura Dickman, BSW Intern


According to verywellmind.com and writer Katherine Star, PhD, published Sept. 20, 2020,

  • Medically reviewed article


What is Perfectionism?

Perfectionism is the deeply held desire to live in a flawless or perfect way in many aspects of life. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “perfectionism may be hard-wired in your system.” Therefore, this trait individuals are born with actually impacts the ways in which they perceive the world around them.


Common Things Those Living with Perfectionism Experience:


  1. Setting extremely high standards for themselves that may even be impossible to achieve.

  2. Being overly critical of themselves and others even.

  3. Being obsessively concerned with how others view them.

  4. Having their self worth determined by unattainable accomplishments.

  5. Becoming so overwhelmed by tasks that they don’t know where to begin.

  6. Fearing failure so greatly that it can lead to procrastination and avoidance of the task at hand.


Individuals suffering from perfectionism and other disorders such as OCD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorder often face a wider range of symptoms of perfectionism. Perfectionism is often a result of attempting to live up to an internal ideal. This result of perfectionism is motivated by fear or worrying how others may be perceiving them.


A result of these behaviors are:

  • Loneliness & isolation

  • Depression

  • Jumping to conclusions, which stems from negative thinkings patterns

  • Thoughts of self blame, resulting in the individual believings it’s their fault that they cannot achieve the desired goals they set out for themselves


These symptoms may impact the individual’s ability to manage anxiety and other panic disorder symptoms. Through practice and dedication to tools such as mindfulness, those suffering from perfectionism may be able to lessen some symptoms of the disorder and extra anxiety that coexists with it as well.


Tools to Cope:

1. Overcome negative thoughts

  • Through the use of psychotherapy provided by a licensed professional

2. Practice mindfulness

  • Increase self awareness with the use of mindfulness tools

  • Mindfulness allows you to better understand your thoughts without reacting to them

3. Improve self-esteem

  • Perfectionism commonly affects self-esteem

  • Instead of engaging in self-criticism, search for ways to boost your self esteem:

Ways to boost self esteem:

— Social support

— Self-care

— Assisting others in need

4. Reduce stress

  • Perfectionism can be a huge contributor to stress

  • Stress can lead to a loss of energy, which increases anxiety and panic symptoms as well

  • There is a need to release stress tied to perfectionism, which would allow the nervous system to relax and reach homeostasis


If you are seeking help for coping with anxiety or perfectionism, please reach out and schedule an appointment via our website www.gracefultherapy.com.

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