“When I was a little girl, my wish was always . . . to know everything about everything,” shared Jennifer Wallace, Scoot podcast’s fourth episode guest. “I wanted to understand why we do the things we do, why we think what we think, why we feel the way we feel and get to the root of it.” This combination of intellectual curiosity and drive to accomplish can be a recipe for stress because it touches something many of us struggle with: perfectionism.
Merriam-Webster defines perfectionism as “a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable.” Sadness, stress, and anger are just some of the emotions that can accompany perfectionism. Releasing these feelings allows us to release the pressure of being perfect, while also encouraging self-compassion and igniting joy. According to Play, Stress, and the Learning Brain “play continues in adulthood and is a major contributor to successful problem-solving.” Mental health is a serious matter; at the same time, it takes a sense of play and wonder to combat perfectionism and address our well-being holistically.
Play Is A Natural Stress Reducer
Wallace discussed the link between a sense of play and success in adulthood: “Play is a stress reducer and successful people know how to play.” Play can encompass a number of activities and even communication styles. The National Center of Bio-Technology describes the concept of play as an antidote to: “real-life stressors [that] trigger the release of both epinephrine and cortisol ….. play does not increase cortisol, [a stress hormone].” Stress, in its many iterations, has the capacity to greatly impact one’s mental health. “A sense of play is different for every person. [It can be] any activity where you lose track of time [and]where you feel flow,” explains Wallace. Creative Flow notes that “flow is a mental state that leads to being fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of an activity.” This flow “leads to joy, fulfillment and spectacular progress in the task you are performing.” Finding one’s flow can help inspire and perpetuate joy; it can also help defend against the stressors in our lives and minds that fuel perfectionism.
Wallace shares that play in adulthood can take many forms. “Hitting a tennis ball…even [just] playing catch with my son, I find it very therapeutic.” Wallace recalls feeling “less stress” and realizing that play “also bonds you with people.” There are a plethora of playfully healing activities we can engage in. SimplyHealth.Today notes that activities like exercise, meditation, or dance can be an excellent mental vacation from the pressure to perform and help encourage flow. Attending musical or comedic performances, as Wallace does, can also offer a healthy escape from daily stressors. If you are seeking more ideas for how to incorporate playful healing into your life, check out this article. We encourage you to start incorporating play into your daily wellness practice and share with us if and how it helps alleviate stress and perfectionism. You can submit your reflection and thoughts here.
For more insight on Jennifer Wallace’s story and work, you can listen to her interview on Scoot, wherever you listen to podcasts. Here is the Spotify link:
The Effects of Perfectionism with Award-Winning Journalist - Jennifer Wallace - Scoot | Podcast on Spotify
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