Last week, I started the 17th grade. As much as I try to manage stress- and trust me, I am WAY better at this now than I was in high school- I still cried a good amount this past week. But that’s nothing new in the life of a perfectionist…
We put way too much pressure on ourselves, expect the impossible, and shoot for whatever is beyond the stars. I don’t think you can ever stop being a perfectionist, but I do think there are ways to manage the tendencies. Despite best efforts, you know what really tempts those hard-to-squelch impulses?
Moving to a new place and having to establish yourself at a new job…oh that sounds familiar
In order to combat my inherent perfectionist habits, I have been proactively taking action before anything has a chance to spiral into a deep, dark hole of despair (with which I am well acquainted).
- I take myself out to ice cream on a weekly basis. Yes, I still do eat a mostly paleo-style diet. However, because of my history with restrictive eating, I know that if I put too many labels on my diet, good intentions will lead to a not-so-healthy mindset. Plus, it’s important to be comfortable enough to take yourself on a date. Put down your phone (after you take a picture of your cone duh), people-watch, and savor that ice cream.
- I am devoting a lot of energy to triathlon training and putting in about 10 hours a week. Yes, I understand that people can use exercise in an unhealthy way to relieve stress and literally run away from their problems. But don’t worry, I am very intentional with every session. Training is comforting for me. I love setting goals, signing up for cool races, and sweating. I can’t just have school or I’d go insane. So when I get out on my bike, lace up my Hokas, or jump in the pool, I leave work/school stress behind. I don’t aim for the ‘perfect’ workout, just taking whatever my body can do on the day. It was only a year ago when my hip issues started (little did I know it would require surgery to fix), and body appreciation was low because I felt so physically limited. Now, I am full of gratitude for every mile I can cover. My body rocks.
- In addition to ice cream, I am intentionally eating more carbs every day. I love experimenting with my diet (as if you didn’t know that already), and I don’t think that less than 100 grams of carbs per day is best for my body. The perfectionist in me was tempted by going even more extreme and trying a ketogenic diet, but I put my foot down. I still eat a relatively high fat diet, but after reading up on women’s health blogs and talking to friends, it seems like women do better with more carbs. For me, that means plenty of bananas, peaches, potatoes, squash, and beets. I still don’t know how I feel about gluten, but I don’t really mind not eating it a lot, so most of my carbs are starchy and from fruits or root vegetables. Carbs can help with sleep and hormone regulation, both of which will minimize stress!
- I had my IUD taken out. My inherent perfectionist ways want to control my body with birth control, which is why I’ve never experienced my body’s natural cycle. But after 5 months of mysterious bleeding, I was desperate to get to the root of the issue. You know what?? I FINALLY STOPPED BLEEDING! Amazing, I know…but also scary. Because I am out of control and at the mercy of my body. So instead of focusing on the fear, I am trying to get psyched for my real, natural period and synthetic hormone-free body. I downloaded the myFLO app. I ordered a Diva Cup. I’m ready to embrace my cycle.
I will never not be a perfectionist, but I want to minimize these negative habits and channel the strong work ethic. I can’t apologize for who I am, and some of my greatest strengths stem from my over-achieving nature. But a balance must be reached. I’ve experienced that tipping point, and I have no desire to go back. I’m still learning how to relax and will probably always need to put in this effort.
There is no end goal; this is a lifelong process. So enjoy the process, and fill it with ice cream and self love.