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Perfection is Overrated: Why Prioritizing Your Health Should be Your Top Priority

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on March 11, 2023

In today's society, perfection is often seen as the ultimate goal. We strive for perfection in our careers, relationships, and even in our personal lives. However, this constant pursuit of perfection can take a toll on our health and well-being. While it's important to set high standards and goals for ourselves, it's equally important to prioritize our health above all else. And this process is a journey, not a destination.

Perfectionism is often associated with high levels of stress and anxiety, which can lead to physical and mental health problems. (1, 2) When we push ourselves to be perfect, we may neglect important aspects of our health, such as getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly. We may also neglect our mental health, failing to take time to relax and recharge.

Research has shown that perfectionism is linked to a variety of health problems, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and even cardiovascular disease. (3) In addition, the pressure to be perfect can lead to burnout, which can negatively impact our work and personal relationships. (4)

So, what can we do to prioritize our health and well-being while still striving for excellence? One important step is to let go of the idea of perfectionism. Recognize that perfection is unattainable and that it's okay to make mistakes and have flaws. Instead of striving for perfection, focus on doing your best and learning from your mistakes.

Another important step is to prioritize self-care. (5) This includes taking care of your physical health by eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. It also means taking care of your mental health by taking time for yourself, practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga, and seeking help when you need it.

Finally, it's important to recognize that your health is more important than any goal or achievement. It's okay to take a step back from your work or other responsibilities if it means prioritizing your health. Remember, you can always come back to your goals once you're feeling better.

In conclusion, while the pursuit of perfection may seem appealing, it's important to prioritize your health and well-being above all else. (6) Let go of the idea of perfectionism, focus on doing your best, and prioritize self-care. Remember, you only have one body and mind, so take care of them and the rest will fall into place.


  1. Wang Y, Chen J, Zhang X, Lin X, Sun Y, Wang N, Wang J, Luo F. The Relationship between Perfectionism and Social Anxiety: A Moderated Mediation Model. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Oct 10;19(19):12934. doi: 10.3390/ijerph191912934. PMID: 36232234; PMCID: PMC9566146.
  2. Handley AK, Egan SJ, Kane RT, Rees CS. The relationships between perfectionism, pathological worry and generalised anxiety disorder. BMC Psychiatry. 2014 Apr 2;14:98. doi: 10.1186/1471-244X-14-98. PMID: 24693946; PMCID: PMC4234287.
  3. Nazari N. Perfectionism and mental health problems: Limitations and directions for future research. World J Clin Cases. 2022 May 16;10(14):4709-4712. doi: 10.12998/wjcc.v10.i14.4709. PMID: 35663083; PMCID: PMC9125265.
  4. Spagnoli P, Buono C, Kovalchuk LS, Cordasco G, Esposito A. Perfectionism and Burnout During the COVID-19 Crisis: A Two-Wave Cross-Lagged Study. Front Psychol. 2021 Feb 1;11:631994. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.631994. PMID: 33597905; PMCID: PMC7882691.
  5. Ayala EE, Winseman JS, Johnsen RD, Mason HRC. U.S. medical students who engage in self-care report less stress and higher quality of life. BMC Med Educ. 2018 Aug 6;18(1):189. doi: 10.1186/s12909-018-1296-x. PMID: 30081886; PMCID: PMC6080382.
  6. Søvold LE, Naslund JA, Kousoulis AA, Saxena S, Qoronfleh MW, Grobler C, Münter L. Prioritizing the Mental Health and Well-Being of Healthcare Workers: An Urgent Global Public Health Priority. Front Public Health. 2021 May 7;9:679397. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.679397. PMID: 34026720; PMCID: PMC8137852.

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