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                        Forget Perfection!
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The holidays are upon us. It’s a time for jolly good tidings — and stress.

Joy is abundant during this time of year. In fact, according to one study, 78 percent of people report feeling happy often, and 60 percent describe their spirits as “high” (as in happy, not stoned).

Unfortunately, there is more to the story when it comes to our mental health. Sixty-one percent of people report feeling stressed often or sometimes during the holidays. Specifically, 47 percent describe feeling pressure about gifts, 62 percent are concerned about a lack of money, and 67 percent worry about a lack of time.

What holiday character are you? Take the quiz to find out.

So, is stress a requirement over the holidays? I don’t really think so.

In my personal and professional life, I have come to realize that the reason why most of us feel stress over the holidays isn’t the holiday season itself. It is actually perfectionism.

Perfectionism is an all-or-nothing mentality, where we believe that something is either perfect or it’s a failure. It's either right or wrong, with no middle ground.

How does perfectionism affect your holiday stress? Do any of these sound like you?

  • “I have to find amazing gifts for everyone.” [perfect present]
  • “No need to bring anything; I’ve got it covered.” [perfect hostess]
  • “My family should all get along over the holidays (even though we never do).” [perfect family]
  • “I gave in and ate one cookie, so I might was well have the rest of the plate.” [perfect, all-or-nothing diet]
  • “We have to travel for the holidays; it is what our family expects from us.” [perfect daughter/daughter in-law]

What if this holiday season, instead of striving for perfection, you decided to be better than perfect?

Better than perfect means you focus on what's important to you (happiness, gratitude and being with family) instead of perfectionism (stressing out about finding the perfect gift or being the perfect hostess or keeping to a strict diet).

Instead, why not choose to give yourself a break and, in doing so, help yourself and those around you to have a happier holiday?

For example, instead of stressing out about buying the perfect gifts and overtaxing your credit card, try giving friends and family something meaningful. A photo album, created online while you’re in your jammies, is time- and cost-effective — and it’s also a touching keepsake.

Rather than making everything from scratch, try buying some (or all) of your holiday meal. Or ask guests to each bring a certain dish. (“Aunt Barbara, will you please bring your homemade cinnamon rolls that we all love?”) 

Try adopting a new holiday tradition that you adore and dropping the ones that cause you extra headaches. If traveling during December stresses you out, why not stay home and visit family during a less hectic time? Instead, you might choose to volunteer locally as a family.

So how about you? What will you do this year to drop the stressful perfectionism and be better than perfect?

Go to my Facebook page and post a video or picture of how you are being better than perfect this holiday season. Please share with us, so that we can be inspired by you.

Let's create a revolution where we don't feel like we have to strive for perfectionism but instead can embrace being better than perfect.

See you on Facebook. And remember, you are better than perfect!

About the Author

Elizabeth Lombardo Ph.D.

Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D. is a Licensed Practicing Psychologist with an MS in physical therapy who combines research findings, real-life stories, and humor to provide actionable tips for individuals.

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