If having a large number of guest at your house, each one waiting on your perfectly cooked meal, judging your christmas spirit by your decorations around the house makes you a little anxious, then this article is perfect for you! If you have even a sliver of control freak in you then you’re probably focusing on the anxiety the holidays bring and the solution isn’t about giving up control, but forming a plan that works for you, says Michelle Carlstrom, senior director of Johns Hopkins University’s Office of Work, Life and Engagement.
“I would never say [to someone focused on perfection] to let go of control entirely, because having control is often what makes perfectionists feel calm,” Carlstrom tells The Huffington Post. “But there are so many moving pieces in the holiday marathon that you cannot have control over, you have to understand what you can manage and what you can’t.”
Don’t overdo it.
In order to manage holiday stress, it’s important to have a plan in place — but be wary of going overboard. The challenge of putting up the perfect decorations or committing to too many holiday parties can trigger a perfectionist to break down, says Dr. Scott Bea, clinical psychologist and assistant professor of medicine at the Cleveland Clinic.
Avoidance behavior, he says, is common when perfectionists try to picture each task. “Perfectionists have a hard time starting something if they need a perfect outcome,” Bea told The Huffington Post. “If they can’t visualize the perfect end result, they’ll often start avoiding it altogether. Then things start to pile up and tasks mount.”
Establishing boundaries and only taking on a reasonable amount of work is the best way to tackle these tasks head on. “Holidays have so much to do with planning but not overcommitting — being able to say no without guilt is important,” Carlstrom said.
Prioritize and delegate each task and event.
When it comes to a full holiday calendar, Carlstrom says those who have a tendency toward perfectionism need to set boundaries and prioritize. “Whatever it is that you do, put your plan in place by thinking about what’s most important to you,” she says. “Is it socializing and holiday events? Is it family time? If you pick out the most important thing to you during the holiday season and how you work that in, you can remain in control of those parameters you set for yourself.”
Delegating responsibilities — whether it’s someone to help with the cooking or with setting up the party — can also help perfectionists let go without losing a sense of control. “Planning for what you’re going to do and not do helps establish boundaries,” she says. “Often times [perfectionists] manage too many commitments, but this way you still feel like you do maintain some control.”
Think about the reaction you want to have — then forget the idea entirely.
If finding the ideal gift for your partner, family or friends feels like some sort of test, it can be a sign of perfectionism. Bea suggests mentally identifying what the consequences would be if things don’t end up perfect — chances are, they aren’t so bad. “You can’t screw up giving a gift, if it’s an occasion or a material gift, if it’s coming from your heart you can’t possibly make a mistake,” he said.
According to Carlstrom, it’s important to remember that the perfect present — and the reaction to the thought behind that gift — likely isn’t going to make or break your relationship. “You can control your intentions as you look for a gift, but you can never control someone’s response to a gift,” she says.
The same goes for family dynamics. According to Carlstrom, the potential for conflict or negative reactions from loved ones often creates more pressure. The best way to manage those stressors is to face them head on and go into it with an understanding that you’re not alone. “We have in our minds that during the holidays we need to have the perfect family experience — but all of us have dysfunctions,” she says. “Managing relationships is difficult, especially with people you might only see a few times a year.”