Lifting the pressure on holiday party perfectionists

December 11, 2000

Good news for Martha Stewart wannabes who find holiday planning more stressful than enjoyable. A study by U of T at Mississauga (UTM) psychology professor Kirk Blankstein offers hope for lifting the pressure to be perfect.

"The study found that perfectionists, particularly those motivated by the expectations that others place on them, experience anxiety and depression when minor hassles start to pile up, when they avoid dealing with these hassles and when they perceive they have little support for their situation from family and friends," says Blankstein.

When it comes to the holidays, he says the best strategy is to plan the details ahead of time, start the work early and perhaps most important of all, get others involved. "Perfectionists should structure their lives so there are not going to be a lot of minor hassles. They should get others to help by doing jobs around the house and running errands," he says. "Let someone else pick up the Christmas crackers this year."

It's advice he recognizes may be difficult to follow. "Perfectionists try to do it all themselves because they believe no one else can do it better. They can be difficult to treat."

Blankstein's study on perfectionism, based on a series of questionnaires involving 443 university students, was conducted with McGill PhD candidate David Dunkley and a group of UTM students. It is published in the October issue of the Journal of Counseling Psychology.
CONTACT: Professor Kirk Blankstein, Department of Psychology at UTM, 905-828-3874, or Judy Noordermeer, U of T Public Affairs, 416-978-4289,

University of Toronto

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