Nobody's perfect. Honestly! (Even Sarah.)
Recently I opened the oven and found the (rather expensive) piece of beef I was cooking for a supper party had shrivelled and burnt… Actually, it was a dream, but the worry was real. I was due to cook beef for friends and was in a fret about it not being perfect. In fact, the meat was delicious, perfectly cooked, and we had a lovely evening. But I had devoted several hours of my life to fretting about it. Eventually I managed to wrap my brain around the reality of the situation: it was friends coming for supper, who wouldn’t have minded if they had ended up eating baked beans because they care about me.
I feel a bit daft admitting to it but the majority of women are prone to thinking like this. New research commissioned by Sanctuary Spa revealed that almost 80 per cent of women say they put too much pressure on themselves to be perfect. And the biggest source of pressure comes from? Yes, you guessed it – ourselves. Brands and the media are also blamed for loading on the expectation to be perfect, as are family and friends. (I grew up believing I had to be the best – not do my best.)
Interestingly, while four out of five women feel they are never quite good enough, the remaining 20 per cent believe they are always good enough. So how do you get to this way of thinking? I’m tipping my hat to Sanctuary Spa for launching its hashtag #LetGo campaign, which is aimed at challenging ‘the perception that success equates to busy-ness, leaning-in and being a superwoman’. Far from encouraging us to do it all (perfectly), Sanctuary Spa counsels us to lean out, turn off and stop worrying.
Here are some tips to set you on the path, starting with an apt one from life strategist Jenni Trent Hughes:
• Remember that people value the moments you create with them, not the things you give them.
• Whenever you start judging yourself, think what you would tell your best friend in the same situation.
• Take time for you. If you commute, read a frivolous book, crochet a scarf, meditate – do NOT plan your next work day, worry about the children’s homework or compare yourself unfavourably to Angelina Jolie.
• Perfectionists often procrastinate, so prioritise the tasks you don’t want to do – and complete them.
• Acknowledge how much you do get done and give yourself a hug for it. The average British woman completes 26 tasks daily.
• Remember no one is perfect; we love people with imperfections.
• Learn from a little film about the older women who’ve been there, done all that and got the sweatshirt; visit www.sanctuary.com/letgo.
A reader’s father, who has heart problems, has been advised to find a gentle, older dog, which would encourage him to take light walks and also manage stress (there is lots of research on this and some health professionals ‘prescribe’ canine company). I suggested they contact the Dogs Trust for a dog that needs rehoming. Dogs Trust has 20 centres in the UK which offer different sizes and ages of dogs to carefully matched owners. For more information, visit www.dogstrust.org.uk.
WEBSITE OF THE WEEK; www.cmt.org.uk
CMT stands for Charcot-Marie-Tooth, the names of the three scientists who discovered this inherited neurological disease, which causes uncontrollable pain, chronic fatigue, twisted ankles, balance problems and falls. People with CMT can have a reasonable quality of life with normal life expectancy if they have the right advice and support, but the charity CMT UK believes that about 20,000 of those with the condition have not been diagnosed, and is launching a search for them so they can obtain support.