Here at Flow Magazine, we have made it our goal to help the world slow down a bit. Not a modest undertaking, we know, but let’s start with some insights on the struggles we face in this day and age, and how slowing down can benefit us.
The rise of burnout is perhaps the result of a cocktail of factors: technology creating an ‘always-on’ culture, constant social media imagery depicting enviable lives, and an increasing expectation that we should be all things to all people. Basically, we are expected to be perfect.
We are bombarded with images of perfection everywhere we look. Scroll through your social media, and you’ll no doubt see carefully curated images of other people’s lives. Go to the movies or turn on the TV, and you’ll watch adverts selling a better life before watching beautiful, polished people on the screen, providing examples of how to be the perfect partner, perfect colleague, perfect parent… the list goes on.
Dr Thomas Curran is an academic specializing in perfectionism and burnout at the University of Bath in the UK. He believes that ‘people are seemingly internalizing a pre-eminent contemporary myth that things, including themselves, should be perfect’. In a cohort study carried out with York St John University, Curran and his co-researchers discovered perfectionism is closely associated with burnout—a syndrome associated with chronic stress. It manifests as extreme fatigue, a sense that you can’t ‘perform’ as well as you could in the past, and eventual feelings of cynicism and detachment.
‘As psychologists, we have been fascinated by the effects of perfectionism—a personality trait encompassing excessively high personal standards and harsh self-criticism,’ they write. ‘It is a common trait, and it is likely that you will know someone with it: a co-worker gripped with the fear of making mistakes, a teammate excessively self-critical following a poor performance, or a child brooding about missing a school deadline. These are all defining characteristics of a perfectionist.’
- Read the full story ‘Why it’s okay to slow down’ in Issue 28.
Text Jocelyn de Kwant Illustrations Sanny van Loon