How does Perfectionism contribute to Burnout?

May 24, 2022

Perfectionism can contribute to burnout in several ways.

First, perfectionists tend to set excessively high standards for themselves, which can lead to feelings of frustration and disappointment when they are not met. Second, perfectionists often ruminate on their mistakes and dwell on negative feedback. All of these factors can increase feelings of anxiety and stress, which when left unmanaged for prolonged periods of time can lead to burnout. 

Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive stress. It can lead to feelings of cynicism and withdrawal, decreased productivity, and even physical health problems.  

Often you get small signs that Burnout is knocking at your door way before it becomes a thing. We are often too busy with work and home life that we don't prioritise listening to the signals our body is giving us. Instead, we brush it off, ignore it, or pop a pill to alleviate the problem and carry on.  

Society has taught us that we need to be strong and tough out situations or we will be perceived as weak or not good enough. In the workforce, this creates a belief that we won't be seen as professional, or perhaps that we may be overlooked for a promotion. This thinking is what further drives perfectionist behaviour to get everything just right, perfect in fact.  

The problem with this approach is that it has contributed to many high performers pushing themselves to extremes and suppressing the internal alarm signals in their bodies. Health issues become worse than necessary and we spend an insurmountable amount of time, effort, energy and money to rebuild ourselves out of a state of Burnout. 

While perfectionism can be seen as a good thing, in excess it can lead to burnout. If you’re struggling with perfectionism and feel like you’re constantly burning the midnight oil, it might be time to seek some help.

There are plenty of resources available to you, and we’d love to help connect you with them. Don’t suffer in silence – there is hope for recovery.

What have been your experiences with perfectionism?  

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