It has become a norm in our current society to be a high performer, a perfectionist, to be expected to excel at everyday tasks and to meet high standards in our work and life.
Whilst this can be a positive influence on us it can also be detrimental to our overall mental health, especially when these high standards are difficult to “switch” off from.
So, when do you know if your personal standards of achievement are becoming a problem for you? In a general sense, perfectionist people can often be very hard on themselves, have unrelenting standards that may cover all domains of functioning (work, home, social) and when they are unable to meet their own personal expectations in these areas, there is a deep sense of failure, shame and sadness. You may experience an inability to make simple decisions, you may find yourself procrastinating or struggling with concentration and memory. Further, you may experience physiological signs of distress and panic and experience a low mood or anxious ruminating thoughts. Overall, if you feel a sense that your “normal” functioning or “sense of self” has changed or shifted negatively in recent times, this might be your first sign that you are putting too much pressure on yourself and its time for change.
Some practical guidelines that might help include:
- Stop and pay attention to your triggers. Are there specific situations (at work, home or socially) that are causing you stress and anxiety? What might be happening for you at these moments that make you to feel this way? Become aware of “triggering” situations and mentally prepare yourself on how you might cope in such moments, for example, if you know a certain meeting at work will be difficult,
prepare in advance for how you might manage and cope with it (E.g. practice what you might say in the meeting, take a walk afterwards)
- Identify some of your thoughts around your personal standards or expectations. Could these be leading to you feeling anxious or overwhelmed? Write them down and understand them, highlighting the positive and negatives of such thoughts, with the focus on how to minimize the negative aspects.
- Plan for alternatives. Could your thinking be too self-critical and is there another way you could be looking at things?
- Make a note of your strengths and achievements and take time to celebrate your wins.
- Make a well-being plan. Reach out for support from others, reconnect with your family and friends, plan an exercise regime, and schedule some “down time”. Essentially, allow some mental switch off time and practice being mindful and present in your current life moments rather than worrying about “what’s next”.
- Focus on “what you can control” in difficult, stressful and high-pressure situations and take the time to re-prioritize your areas of worry based on this.
Having high standards in terms of life performance and achievement can be a positive attribute to have, but if these standards become perfectionistic and self-critical, the impact upon your personal well-being and happiness can have a negative consequence and lead to psychological burnout.
Friendship is about mutual affection, shared values and an interpersonal connection. Such qualities are the perfect characteristics for a romantic relationship.
This is why remaining in a close friendship with your partner is important for the longevity of relationships. Knowing your partner, their dreams and values, makes for a good foundation when difficulties arise or conflict occurs in your relationship. Without a friendship dynamic we can become emotionally distant from each other, disengaged and disinterested.
Here are three simple tips to sustaining friendship in your romantic relationship:
- Keep up to date with your partner’s current likes/dislikes and worries. Being engaged in this way will show a mutual respect for each other’s opinions and thoughts. Start from the simple questions (Eg. Do you still like reading fiction? What’s your favourite running route in Sydney?), to the more complex questions (Eg. Is our mortgage still a worry for you?)
- Sharing an interest together and will create a shared experience (Eg. join the gym together, swap reading books and compare thoughts, learn a language together)
- Keep it light – laughter makes you feel good and releases endorphins in your body. By making humour a part of your daily conversations this will naturally generate a fondness towards each other.
Sustaining a healthy friendship with your partner will support not only your relationship but also your own individual mental health and well-being.
We all want a thriving, high functioning and happy relationship. We want a relationship that makes us feel nourished, supported and loved. Easier said than done right? In real life when there are so many individual demands to manage, such as family dynamics, career development, financial growth and mental health, making time for our relationship and our partner can often get left behind or put on the bottom of the list.
What we know about relationships is that when they are positive and fulfilling our individual mental health is better and personal resilience is high. So how do we ensure our relationships are thriving? The simple answer is by making them a priority and nurturing them through regular positive habits. Habits are about practice and repeat, making something so frequent in our lives that it becomes a part of the everyday. So with that in mind, its time to set some new healthy and regular habits for your relationships, ensuring that you continue to thrive as a couple and individually.
Below are five habits that you should practice to keep your relationship healthy:
- Get to know your partner again and build a friendship: Life experiences change us as individuals and therefore it is likely that our needs and wants have changed over the years. Its time to start ‘re-learning’ about each other, from the simple interests to the more intimate thoughts/ideas. This activity can strengthen your friendship as a couple and allow you to explore shared interests.
- Celebrate your mutual wins: In the busy nature of life we often forget to celebrate our wins as a couple or to remind each other what we mutually set out to achieve together. For example, did you eventually buy that dream house that you were both working for? Did your eldest child achieve academic success? Did you survive that first family road trip? Recognizing the achievements you have had as a team can create a sense of satisfaction and reassurance for your relationship.
- Understand each other’s values and create mutual respect: Core values drive our decisions and direction in life. In a partnership it is important to understand if our values are shared or different, as a misunderstanding of your partner’s values can often cause relationship conflict. Take time to explore each other’s ‘set of values’, gaining an understanding of what you each expect in family life, career goals, marriage, spirituality etc., so that this knowledge can shape your future decisions in life.
- Book a date night: It’s a cliché but dedicated date nights (or days) actually work! Date nights give significance to making time for each other so that you can engage in deeper conversations, share interests and can encourage an element of fun in your relationship.
- Have the “tough” conversations and don’t leave ‘elephants’ in the room: Communication is vital to relationship well-being so when we stop talking, we stop investing in our relationship development. Leaving important issues ‘unsaid’ can lead to resentment, anxiety and mistrust. If you find it hard to start a conversation about a tough issue, use other ways of communicating such as emails, letters or creative approaches to open up to each other. Make sure you approach these conversations calmly and with honesty, knowing that you may not solve the issue immediately but that small steps towards resolution is a positive win for your relationship.