New Research Says A 10-Minute Meditation May Help Suffering Perfectionists

mbg Editorial Assistant By Christina Coughlin
mbg Editorial Assistant
Christina Coughlin is an editorial assistant at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2019 with a degree in psychology and music.
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Image by Kike Arnaiz / Stocksy

Perfectionism is a trait with both positive and negative aspects that can affect just one person or everyone around them. When it's positive, it pushes people toward their high-achieving goals. When it's negative, however, the feelings of failure and stress can be overwhelming. According to new research, meditation may be an effective way to help perfectionists deal with negative thoughts and recover from failure. 

Researchers administered a personality questionnaire to a large group of university students, identifying which students rated high for perfectionism. Those students were then assigned to four different kinds of groups: regular mindfulness, nonjudgment-focused mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation, and a control group that did nothing. They measured the heart rates of the participants starting with a baseline, completing a task and failing, and then a 10-minute meditation session afterward depending on the group.

According to the results, participants in the nonjudgment meditation group had "marginally higher" abilities to recover from stress compared to the other three groups.

While researchers were aware that meditation could help negative thoughts, the "nonjudgment" aspect of the meditation proved to be a key for perfectionists. "This study extends the findings of mindfulness researchers and suggests the potential importance of nonjudgment of emotions and experiences during mindfulness practice for perfectionists," says author Hannah Koerten.

This is important because perfectionism can be associated with mental disorders like anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Struggling with failure is already a tough thing to endure, and being a perfectionist makes that failure even harder to recover for them. 

In the future, researchers hope to study more ways to improve stress and negative thoughts in perfectionists and hope to delve deeper into the ways that various meditation techniques can affect cardiovascular responses.

Although there may be some benefits to being a perfectionist, it's important to stay grounded and mindful when it comes to those high expectations and negative thoughts. And remember to keep an eye out for when perfectionism may be disguising a larger problem

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