How Perfectionism Impacts Mental Health

When I wrote last week’s post about why I feel like I’m always playing catch up, I thought a lot about perfectionism. It’s not something that crosses my mind often, but when I have time to reflect on how I treat myself, that word comes up. When I was growing up, no one ever made a connection between perfectionism and mental health. Perfectionism was a personality trait, and some people had it and others didn’t. But the more I learn about mental health, the more I’ve learned that it’s not so black and white. It’s always existed, but perfectionism effects our mental health in very unique ways in 2021 – and that’s what I want to talk about today.

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Going A Little Easier On Myself

One of the things I’ve learned on my mental health journey is that I can be extremely hard on myself. When I make mistakes or experience setbacks, I am quick to place the blame squarely on my shoulders. When I succeed, I’m reluctant to take any of the credit or share in any part of the praise. And while I know many of the reasons behind this (and since I don’t want to turn this post into a pseudo-therapy session), I’ve never really known what to do about it – which is what I’d like to talk about today.

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When It Comes to Mental Health, Simple Doesn’t Mean Easy

People say it all the time – easier said than done. That phrase can extend to a lot of different situations for a lot of different reasons. In fact I don’t think I realized just how often I said it (to myself or to others) during my day-to-day life. And while I think that this extends to plenty of situations in our lives, there’s no area where this plays out for me in a clearer way then when my mental health is involved. When it comes to mental health challenges and finding ways to improve my mental wellness, it is always, always, always easier said than done. Because even though mental health solutions might sound simple, they are anything but easy.

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The Challenge of Celebrating Yourself

This past week was my birthday. I’ll be honest – historically speaking, I’m not big on birthdays. Actually, let me be more specific: I’m not that big on my birthday. I’ll help anyone else celebrate the day they were born. Name the time and place and I am in there, ready to do it up big. But when it comes to my own birthday, there have always been a few challenges that have gotten in the way of enjoying my birthday the way I’d like to. There are plenty of reasons for why I feel this way, but since this is a mental health blog, I’ll focus on what one of the most challenging reasons that birthdays are difficult for me, which is one of the simplest aspects of a birthday: celebrating yourself.

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Walking Out of the Darkness in 2021

This year, for the fifth year in a row, I raised money and participated in the Washington, D.C. Out of the Darkness Community Walk, an annual event held by the National Capital Area Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). I was very fortunate to learn about this organization and the work they do and every single year, I’m reminded about how much I’ve learned and grown from being part of this event.

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When Relaxing Is the Point

As any reader of this blog knows, I tend to overthink things. Maybe it’s my anxiety, maybe it’s just part of my personality, who knows – either way, decisions aren’t made lightly when it comes to how I live my life. That’s one of the reasons I struggled over the weekend, but also one of the ways that I was taught a valuable lesson in how to spend and enjoy my time. I operate with the mindset that every single moment of my day has to have a vague, undefined sense of meaning and importance, and I’m starting to learn that this doesn’t have to be true. Sometimes, the only reason we do things is to feel good and enjoy ourselves – and that can be a very good thing.

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Fighting My Instincts Toward Negative Thoughts

I think a lot about instincts. Whether it’s the instinct to think something or feel something, I’m pretty fascinated by the concept of instantly having a thought or feeling throughout my body because of something I’ve experienced. Unfortunately, people who experience mental illness can often have natural instincts that create negative thoughts or feeling, which can be very frustrating. It’s difficult to live in a world where every instinctual thought about yourself is negative, but that’s the reality for many people who experience depression.

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Focusing on What’s Effective for Mental Wellness

When I write about mental health, I often use the word effective to talk about a certain technique or method that I’m researching or using. I’ve started to use this word more and more in the past few years, and it’s become one of the biggest ways I’ve measured mental wellness and how I manage mental health challenges. By putting a focus on how effective things are, I’ve been able to prioritize my mental health in a way I hadn’t been able to do before. Here’s why that’s important.

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Why I Always Make Room for Mental Health Improvement

Over the years, I’ve learned a number of methods and techniques to manage my depression and anxiety. Some of those have worked very well (meditation and talk therapy), while others haven’t been as effective (I’m hoping to come back to journaling one day, but it’s not soon). Either way, I’ve learned a lot about what’s helpful for me on my mental health journey, and used those lessons to continue building my mental health toolkit and growing more certain in how I manage mental health. But as I’ve learned recently, there’s always space to find more ways and improve that relationship with mental health, which is what I want to talk about today.

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Making the Mental Shift Into Fall

Every year around Labor Day, I start to make the mental shift into the fall season. I know I’m not alone in this (and I’m not here to talk about how amazing fall is, I promise), but I think there are important adjustments we make heading into this part of the year that aren’t always talked about. Seasons don’t only mean a change in weather; they also mean a change in lifestyle and a shift in our schedules. Fall is much more than back to school and changing leaves – it’s another opportunity to work on our mental health in a changing space.

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