Is Perfectionism Bad For Your Health? Yes, Actually

Posted May 18, 2020 by in Health + Fitness
woman standing in the shade

We all know somebody who is a perfectionist in this life. There’s the woman who never stops working because she’s terrified of letting her boss down. Or, there is the dad who is always down at the gym because he’s worried about changes to his body. 

The pressure to be a perfectionist is real in the modern world. We live in a society that emphasizes the achievements of the people who are at the top of their game—those who excel. It makes the rest of us feel as if we should be striving for what they have. The underlying message is that we should try to get there at all costs. 

Being a perfectionist, though, is not good for your health. Perfectionists tend to have an all-or-nothing mindset. They’re propelled by a fear of failure that tends to consume them. And it can be bad for their health:

Is Perfectionism Bad For Your Health?

Perfectionism Can Lead To Stress

People who take the online Enneagram test for free and discover that they are perfectionists tend to suffer from high levels of stress. The reason for this is that the perfectionist always has goals and aspirations that are just out of reach. It doesn’t matter how far they come; it still feels like they have many miles to go, even if they reach the peak of achievement. 

Continually striving and never resting activates the body’s stress response centers. This activation is okay in small doses, but it can lead to all kinds of knock-on effects when it becomes chronic. Many perfectionists, for instance, suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.

The brain transmits conscious stress that they experience to the bowel via the vagus nerve, and it can go into spasm. When this happens, it feels knotted and twisted, and it can cause discomfort that lasts for days. 

Perfectionism Can Lead To Eating Disorders

Perfectionism can also lead people to develop eating disorders. For those who seek excellence, having a great body is an integral part of their life’s project. They want to ensure that they look great, feel great, and remain healthy for as long as possible. 

Unfortunately, many individuals who are perfectionists can take this too far. Their diets start moderate but finish extreme, and they often wind up losing massive amounts of weight to the point where it becomes dangerous. 

Perfectionists also have a habit of combining their extreme eating regimens with exercise protocols that would make Usain Bolt balk. The effect of this behavior is usually a combination of malnutrition and exhaustion – neither of which is ideal. 

Perfectionism Can Lead To Fatigue

Clinicians note that people who are perfectionists tend to experience a higher rate of fatigue and chronic pain conditions, like fibromyalgia. Sometimes, perfectionists will say things like, “I don’t have time to look after myself. I’m too busy being the perfect person.” When this happens, they neglect self-care, and eventually, their bodies just give out. 

Being a perfectionist, therefore, can be dangerous to your health. Striving for excellence is a good thing—but doing it at all costs is not. In fact, it’s quite far from perfect. 

woman putting flower in pocket

If you’re a perfectionist, make sure you regularly take time out of your busy schedule to take a deep breath and take care of your wellbeing.