Why Perfectionism Can Be Terrible for your Health

Although there is definitely a nobility behind perfection, seeking it in an overzealous way can be a huge detriment to your physical and mental health.

Simply because you will never actually be perfect. We should always try to get closer and closer to it, but we must understand we will never complete the quest for perfection.

We should also be mindful on how we define perfect. An unhealthy definition of perfection can lead to dire consequences. Perfection in ourselves has many facets. “ Attractiveness “is probably the most sought after facet probably also the most commonly misdefined. Even though there is scientific data illustrating how the majority defines “attractive” doesn’t mean that the definition is synonymous with what the “perfect” definition is.

Remember popularity does not equal perfection or correctness.

Here are just a few of the reasons that you may want to temper your pursuit of perfection to the point of making yourself sick.

  • The body as well as the mind are both made to work best with rest.

The body and the mind are able to work best when there is rest in between intense periods of work. The obvious example of the weight room comes to mind: If you do not allow your body to rest in between the days of heavy lifting, you will never achieve the gains that you are looking for. Rest is just as important as the lifting when it comes to gains, and this is the same principle that defines your mental pursuits as well!

 Many people who are in the pursuit of perfection believe that they must “pay their dues” by running themselves ragged. The truth is that the 10,000 hours that statistician Malcolm Gladwell says that you must put in in order to achieve perfection can be put in at any time.

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– Productivity does not always occur in a linear fashion.

 The body does not naturally work for eight hours straight. Most of us have been fooled into thinking that if we cannot maintain top performance between the hours of nine AM and five PM, something is wrong with us. We fill our bodies with all kinds of synthetic sugars and energy bars in order to “correct” this problem, and this is a problem in and of itself that will be discussed later in this article.

 There are many new options available for people who are looking to get off of the rat race schedule. Many companies will now allow their employees to work remotely. Still other companies will allow their employees to work on their own schedule as long as a certain quota of productivity is kept. If you are chasing perfection in the corporate world, see if you can reorganize your schedule with your employer to more perfectly match your actual body schedule.

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– Putting synthetic chemicals in the body to improve the performance of the body or the mind is always detrimental in the long run.

 There is no drug that gives a net positive effect to the body over the long run. Even completely natural fruits and vegetables can become poison if they are eaten with too high of a frequency. Some perfectly legal products that are full of synthetic products and augmented “natural” chemicals are more detrimental to your overall health than crack cocaine and heroin.

Your body schedule does not likely match your professional schedule. The best solution is to simply give your body and your mind rest when they need it. However, if your schedule does not allow this, the second best solution is to fill your backpack with healthy snack foods before you leave home for work each day. This will keep you away from the temptation of quick fix energy drinks and high sugar chocolate bars. Do not be fooled by the so called “health bars” that are nothing more than candy injected with a nutrient that your body may absorb about 10 percent of in total. This does not mean that there are no good supplements or products available, it just means you need to be careful. Make sure you know what ingredients are in the products you’re looking to take. The best pre workouts for instance generally don’t have a lot of caffeine, and instead have a lot of nutrients that you’d find in most vegetables.

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– What do I do next?

It has been said that “moderation in all things” is proper. However, it should be noted that you should have moderation in moderation as well. This means that briefly stopping your pursuit of perfection in order to rest is not only healthy, but it will likely bring you to your goal more quickly! Keep in mind that the body and the mind need rest, and productivity does not always occur in a straight line. Protect your mental and physical health above all for your best performance at all times.


Ryan Blair is a freelance writer who has spent 12 years in the fitness industry doing just about everything including personal training for 6 years.  He now spends his time combining his love of writing with his experience in fitness.  If you want to contact him you can do so at: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/ryan-blair/a5/230/674


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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