Growing up with a generalized anxiety disorder has led to plenty of unhealthy decisions. One of (if not the) worst one is the insurmountable pressure I put on myself every day.
It took me quite a while to realize what self-pressure is and why it was so harmful to me because I didn't know that what I was doing was wrong.
I'm sure this happens often to my fellow anxiety-ridden folk. We feel the need to boost our self-image so incredibly high that it ends up topping over and crushing us under its weight. The way my personal self-pressure revealed itself was through my perfectionist nature. I had (who am I kidding . . . have) to simply be the best at everything otherwise it wasn't enough. Sometimes I felt as though I wasn't enough for my teachers and professors, my friends, my significant other, or even my parents.
Deep down, I knew this wasn't true. I knew my family and true friends accepted and loved me no matter what. But there was this voice in my head telling me, "You're never going to be enough. You can try your best, but it won't be enough." Oftentimes, the voice telling me to give up fights against the one telling me I need to be the best, and this leads to quite the headache. It takes a long time to figure out why your neck is always stiff or you constantly have a knot in your back, but eventually (I hope), you figure out that you are trying to be something you're not - perfect.
No human being is perfect, and striving for perfection wears on us through the horrible effects of stress.
The longer you put off looking for a solution to the pressure you put on yourself, the more harm you will do to your body. I'm sure you already know at least some of these, but stress can do a lot of damage: stomach ulcers, muscle tension, back pain, neck pain, headaches, and more. Those of us who are experience severe and constant stress are even prone to an early death. If this doesn't give you an incentive to work on your self-pressure than I don't know what will.
I don't have the solution to this epidemic. I barely know how to keep myself functioning with the weight of my perfectionism. You really need to experiment by trial and error to figure out what will be best and most healing for you. Now I'm not talking about the "self-care" you see all over the Internet like taking a bubble bath or sleeping in. Real self-care takes effort. It's not easy to do what your body needs you to do when your brain is screaming at you to run in the opposite direction.
The road to releasing yourself from self-pressure is arduous, and I'm not going to pretend like it isn't a lifelong journey because it is. It's something we can all be constantly working on. Give yourself a break when you get a B- instead of the A you wanted - you probably had a really long week and couldn't focus as well. That's okay, you did your best. If you forgot to send that attachment on an email to your coworker, don't sweat it. Remember that it happens all the time and is an easy fix.
What it all really comes down to is grace.
Give yourself some! We are generally caring people who will give other people the grace of a second, third, or even thirteenth chance; so why aren't we giving ourselves that same treatment? Take some time today (and for the rest of your life) to remember that you're human and constantly working on yourself. Loosening up on self-pressure takes time, but it will be well worth it in the end.