Everyone wants to set good standards and be considered a good person with a strong work ethic. Setting standards for yourself can help push you to reach the next level in your performance and can result in achievements such as a job promotion, a deeper understanding of another language or an instrument, or a great academic record. 

Unfortunately, all too often, people, especially women, set standards that are so high there is no way to meet them. This is referred to as perfectionism. Perfectionists not only set standards that are incredibly challenging or impossible to achieve, but they believe that anything short of that is a catastrophe. For that reason, overcoming perfectionism is important to your overall mental health.

How Perfectionism Can Impact Mental Health

Adults who struggle with perfectionism can eventually reach a point where they have a legitimate mental health disorder related to their need to set impossible standards and avoid even minor imperfections.

Even without developing a diagnosable mental health disorder, perfectionism can have a severely harmful impact on your overall mental health. It can cause the following:

Mistake Avoidance

Adults who struggle with perfectionism typically believe that they should never be allowed to make a mistake because a mistake indicates they have failed, disappointed others, or are in some way a horrible person.

This means that even simple mistakes can carry a great deal of fear with them.


Additionally, that fear of making a mistake or letting someone down can cause significant stress. This stress can have physical and mental ramifications, including contributing to high blood pressure and affecting sleep quality.


Perfectionism often influences personal ideas of self-worth. When individuals maintain tight, impossible standards, their sense of self-worth diminishes in many cases because minor mistakes are seen as a reflection of their personal worth.

On the other hand, individuals with perfectionism might start to develop an exaggerated belief that they are better than other people because they have higher standards than others do or they don’t openly admit to or recognize mistakes that are made.

Emotional Issues

The inability to recognize or admit to mistakes because of high risks of diminished self-worth and stress can stunt emotional development. Women who haven’t figured out how to overcome their perfectionism or even to recognize it as something potentially harmful rather than helpful are more likely to close off emotionally and have issues with communication or expressions of love, as those expressions are tied directly to achieving impossibly high standards not only for themselves but for their spouses, children, extended family, and friends.

Recognizing Perfectionism

There’s nothing wrong with always pushing yourself and setting high standards, but when standards are set too high, they can impact your overall life fulfillment, relationships, as well as career or academic progression.

Learning to recognize that you struggle with perfectionism is the first step in getting the help you need. Asking questions like “How can perfectionism impact mental health?” doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem with perfectionism. 

Ask yourself:

  • Do you often have trouble meeting your personal standards?
  • When you try to meet your standards, are you anxious, frustrated, depressed, or angry all the time?
  • Have people told you that your standards are set too high?
  • Do your own standards get in the way of meeting deadlines, trusting others, finishing tasks, or enjoying spontaneous and fun activities?
  • Do you believe that needing help from others represents a weakness in yourself?
  • Do you think that if you make a mistake in front of your co-workers, the humiliation will be too much to bear?
  • Do you often think that you can’t tolerate someone being upset with you?
  • Do you always assume that if you take sick days or time off, people will think you are lazy?
  • Do you believe that you should never come across as anxious or nervous?
  • Are you overly cautious in the tasks that you do, such as spending hours on a task that other people would be able to complete in a matter of minutes? 
  • Do you excessively check things, such as dedicating 30 minutes to reviewing a two-sentence email to your boss for any possible mistakes?
  • Do you constantly rewrite or redo things in order to make them perfect?
  • Do you have elaborate to-do lists that include tasks such as getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, or putting on pants?

If most of these apply to you, it might be time to reach out to Casa Serena to learn more about how perfectionism can impact your mental health and what treatment programs are available.

Overcoming Perfectionism with Casa Serena

Casa Serena is a premier women’s drug and alcohol rehab in Santa Barbara offering both inpatient and outpatient treatment.

We provide women-only recovery programs for addiction and mental health. We believe that every woman should have the opportunity to learn about the relationship between mental health and perfectionism and receive the tools they need to overcome it.

At our women’s mental health treatment center, we teach all of our clients tools to help them overcome perfectionism, such as implementing realistic thinking by using positive and realistic statements like “Everybody makes mistakes. If I make a mistake, I’m not a failure; I’m just like everyone else,” or “No one on earth is liked by everyone, so it’s okay if some people don’t like me.”

Perfectionism can become a significant mental health disorder, but with treatment from Casa Serena, you can overcome the harmful effects it has on your overall mental health and live a happier, more fulfilling life.

Reach out to our team to get mental health support for women.

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