Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes
Well-being Week lecture by Anita Jansen
MAASTRICHT. ‘When I do something, I want it to be perfect’. It seems like a good characteristic, but if it is up to Anita Jansen, dean of the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, we need to rid ourselves of this as soon as possible. In extreme cases, perfectionism can lead to death. Within the framework of Well-being Week – an annual event around the theme of physical and mental health, with lectures and training sessions on such things as study techniques, yoga, mindfulness, sports (see photo) and stress – she gave a lecture on stress and perfectionism to an overcrowded Akenzaal on Universiteitssingel 40 last Tuesday.
“For a large part, stress has to do with expectations,” says Jansen. A little bit of stress is good; it makes you more focused and improves your performance. If your expectations of yourself are too high, you experience more stress. “In perfectionists, it is so bad that their self-esteem depends almost entirely on realising their – often unrealistically high – objectives.” At the expense of everything, including their personal health, they push themselves to achieve their goals. In extreme cases, stress can lead to a burnout or even serious eating disorders such as anorexia; “7 per cent of the people suffering from anorexia dies as a result of this disease.”
The solution is obvious, but is easier said than done. Think differently: don't be too strict on yourself, concentrate on positive things, change your ‘all-or-nothing’ attitude, embrace your shortcomings and – very important – don't set your expectations too high. Jansen: “Returning to the idea that a six is good enough, which was prevalent when I was a student, could be a solution for the problems of stress among students today.”
Jansen finished her lecture with a short video by the Indian monk Gaur Gopal Das, who explains that worrying is unnecessary:
“Do you have a problem in life? No? Then why worry?
“Do you have a problem in life? Yes? Can you do something about it? Yes? Then why worry?
“Do you have a problem in life? Yes? Can you do something about it? No? Then why worry?”