This article provides information about unhealthy perfectionism, and how to tackle it.

Perfectionism is often seen as a positive thing, but setting yourself unrealistic or relentlessly high standards could be causing you problems and damaging your mental health. You don’t have to give up your high standards altogether, but you can learn to pursue healthy high standards that will not negatively impact your life.

It is always advisable to let your personal tutor or course leader know if you are having difficulties affecting your studies - they are there to help, and can offer useful advice and support. It is also advisable to consult your GP if you are feeling persistently low, or if your difficulties are significantly affecting your daily functioning.

The Student Wellbeing Service is available to all students free of charge and is experienced in providing confidential support to students for perfectionism. You may find one or more of our courses and workshops helpful in teaching useful skills to promote your wellbeing. The list of recommended resources will give some ideas for other strategies or sources of support:


Workshops and courses

The Student Wellbeing Service hosts a range of workshops and courses for learning skills to tackle common issues like low mood and depression.

Our popular 'escaping the perfectionist trap’ workshop is regularly fully booked, so we run it several times each year. Other relevant courses and workshops might include ‘from procrastination to productivity’, and ‘introduction to compassionate mind’, and 'stress less, stay well’. Consult our events, courses and workshops programmeto find out more.

All students also have free access to a set of online courses, called SilverCloud, to learn evidence-based strategies for tackling common issues. The 'Space from Stress' course might be helpful in learning to set realistic goals and take care of yourself. These courses can be accessed confidentially and completed independently, in your own time and at your own pace. Find out more and register directly from the online resources article.


Student Wellbeing Service

The Student Wellbeing Service offers confidential help with a wide range of personal and emotional concerns and is available to every student at the University, free of charge. All kinds of students find their way to us from all over the University and for all sorts of reasons.

The service has three strands: wellbeing advice, counselling, and mental health advice. They are all linked together so when you apply you only have to approach us once – we will sort out which one is most likely to meet your needs.

To contact us or register for support see our article on accessing support from the Student Wellbeing Service.


Library books

The University library has copies of the following books which could be useful:

  • Addis, M E & Martell, C - Overcoming Depression One Step at a Time - 616.85270651/ADD
  • Germer, C. K - The mindful path to self-compassion : freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions - 153.83/GER
  • Shafran R, Egan S & Wade T - Overcoming Perfectionism - 616.89142/SHA

You can search the Library Catalogue here.


Other resources

If you would like to research more around the topic of perfectionism, the Student Wellbeing Service can recommend the following self help resources:

Perfectionism in Perspective

From a very well-regarded Australian site, these popular downloadable CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) workbooks provide clear, easy to read information along with short exercises and activities to learn and apply skills for tackling common issues - in this case perfections, but also look for the one on procrastination. Many students have found these materials helpful.


University of Portsmouth Student Wellbeing Service Contact Details:

Phone: +44 (0)23 9284 3466


Location: Nuffield Centre, Second Floor, St Michael's Road, Portsmouth, PO1 2ED

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