How Clothing Therapy Can Help Your Mood.
Ok, so the majority of us have experienced "cabin fever" of late and no doubt have felt that we are being pulled this way and that with family needs, work commitments/worries and generally feeling like we 'should have' made better use of our time. Watching Tiger King and drawing eyebrows on your pets (yes it's a thing) only provided a temporary distraction.
Throw onto the pile, your mood swings and then trying to get a hair appointment and what you have is a potential ticking time bomb set to explode, unexpectedly now we feel that we are being released back into the world slowly.
Granted the daily 30 mins of the outdoors, be it a walk, trot or bike ride can delay your screams for a bit, but I want you to realise that there are ways you can give yourself some respite as well as actively working on 'you' whilst you're at it. What's more, you don't have to spend a penny and you already have the tools at home and they're waiting for you folded, sitting or hanging. Enter clothes therapy.....
Er no, this is not the same as retail therapy, though that also has it's place for some. I'm talking about how your clothes, as well as shoes, bags, jewellery and that favourite lippy can help boost your mood, give you inspiration and even set the ball rolling for further actions.
As an Image Consultant and Coach with an holistic approach to ones self and body image, it's important to understand where I'm coming from on this. I generally link the following three areas of self development - the mind (what you think about yourself), the body (what you're actually rocking) and the wardrobe (your clothes and style presets) as a process to help you identify, embrace and utilise what you already have in order to grow and work from the inside out positively.
In the case of Clothing Therapy (that's what I call it), I'm going to share with you 5 ways that you can plant positive seeds with what you already own, from today.
1) START YOUR DAY WITH INTENTION
Let's be honest, most of us have probably not given our external image much focus recently and may well have used the isolation experience to experiment with bright hair dyes or undergone the scissors under the instruction of YouTube.
For the most part, pj's, dressing gowns and lounge wear were most appealing, but did you know that the action of getting dressed and putting on clothes mindfully can actually help you focus and feel motivated? It's an activity that feeds your self image positively by nurturing your value because you are indeed WORTH THE EFFORT.
Ok, so clothes for some of us are just pieces of cloth stitched together to cover up our modesty as well as being functional protection from the elements, but they also serve as non verbal cues to the outside world about who we are.
It's also a fact that when you wear something you love and feel good in, it will actively help you to perform better. Think about compliments you get, pride from uniforms and kits and professionalism you may feel from wearing certain clothes and these are just a few examples.
So let's do a few things to help us tap into our happy whilst we're at home and from the moment we decide to get up.
Dress to match your emotion - If you've woken up feeling perky and fairly contented then it's a great idea to keep that going, so reach for garments that reflect that happy. Your feel good stuff but something other than what you wore to bed please if you're not going out today.
Dress to change your mood - When you awake and feel anxious, unhappy or pretty 'meh' then you can consciously pick out things from your wardrobe, drawers and jewellery box that will put a smile on your face. Think colourful, bright and/or anything with positive associations or memories to them.
Dress for your day ahead - If you've laid in bed and considered what you want to do with your day or are still working from home, then dress for your tasks or goals. For example, if you have virtual meetings scheduled, then dress as if you were still in the office. You don't need to go full suited and booted as it were, but you will feed your focus and get you in the zone, not to mention show your professionalism and commitment to clients or employees if you make an effort.
It's also an optical plus to giving a focal point to your face, neckline and top half at least with a natty necklace or pop of pattern, this will spread the joy and lift morale for all parties. Alternatively if you want to tidy the garden, put your scruffs on as soon as you can so that the momentum kicks in and you will focus on the task in hand rather than get distracted in your pj's. Same goes for any exercise you want to do, yoga, a run etc.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing the duvet days and sitting around in your comfies because sometimes they serve us well and help us to relax. However, if you find it's becoming more commonplace then it may feed your melancholy and leave you feeling lost and without focus.
Alternatively, you could treat yourself to a pair of special 'slump day' pj's or lounge-wear sets that will help you feel more valuable on 'those days'. So a hearty slogan, a sprinkling of sequins or a bright print could do the trick for you.
2) ENCLOTHED COGNITION IS A SUPER POWER
Some may argue that "clothes do not maketh the man" but I want to point out that they sure do seem to have magical effects..
Enclothed cognition is a fancy term for "The systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer's psychological processes" (Adam Galinsky) As we know clothes can have symbolic meanings eg. doctors white coats and a policeman's uniform - an officer of the law in pink or a pilot in his pj's, I don't think we'd feel the same way about their roles?
Plus, we can emotionally feel differently wearing certain things - a suit in an interview or that little black dress on a date can help us hit the road running.
Therefore, as we've touched on earlier, you can pop on something you already own to mimic positive feelings. A top that's always rewarded you with compliments (feel attractive), a lucky t'shirt (feel confident) or gifted piece of jewellery (feel loved).
3) EMBRACE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE
This is an easy thing to do and fun at that. I wan't you to go up into your bedroom or dressing room, open those wardrobe doors and reach for the item, intuitively, that fills you with the most joy when you look at it and/or when you wear it.
You can do this first thing and put it on for the rest of the day, or you can just get it out and enjoy it. Think about why you love it? Is it the colour, the fit, the pattern or something else? Maybe you have a positive association with it because of how it made you feel?
Was it a gift from a loved one or a treasured heirloom? Did you wear it to a fabulous event or get many compliments when you don it? Mindfully, sit with all of those lovely memories and feelings and know that you can access them anytime and when you need them going forward after we are released from our homes. They are your foundations to 'wearing your happy' and should be loved and appreciated, even if they don't have a use at the moment.
Wear the shoes, swish about in the holiday maxi, rock the sexy undies or strut around in your little black dress. This can apply to your potions and lotions drawer and all those lovely scents and products you love. Give them a whirl. You can't beat a face-pack and a good book.
4) REVISIT YOUR WARDROBE
Giving ourselves time amongst things we own and love can also trigger us to sort and manage, if at least to give us a welcomed distraction. For example, getting out a top you love may make you realise that you don't wear it very much because there's less things to go with it, which can then action us to try putting an outfit together using it or feel inspired to purchase something now (or at a later date).
We can also feel inclined to sort our wardrobes, drawers and shoe boxes into those we love and wear alongside items that don't fit, don't make us feel good or need replacing due to wear and tear.
Jewellery boxes can undergo the same process as well as your undies, coats and shoes.
Now is a perfect time to sort the wheat from the chaff ready for the new season and also when you're ready to fill some gaps.
You may have items too that you believe you can't get rid of:-
a) you think you will lose weight and get back in them,
b) they cost a lot at the time or it was an absolute bargain!
c) have strong emotional ties with
If this is the case then think about the following steps to help you make some wardrobe space both emotionally and physically.
Out of sight, out of mind. Vacuum pack them or store them elsewhere. If they're still packed up in a years time and still don't fit, let them go. Looking at them daily and feeling sad isn't helpful.
Take a photo of them or collect pics of you wearing them for prosperity and then sell the item. The money you make can be put to something that you WILL wear. Cost per wear is only savvy if they're used. Alternatively, if it was a great deal and you just had to buy it. then consider that it was not a bargain but an impulse.
They are no longer giving you the joy by just hanging there. Make someone else's day and share the love by passing the joy on, they could help them feel amazing. Alternatively, have them made into something else by a seamstress or crafty person. I've had clients make sequin skirts into gorgeous purses or jewellery wraps.
5) COLOUR POWER
Lastly, I can't leave without mentioning the importance of Colour on your mind-set. It has such an impact on our day to day that we just take for granted. I've talked before about how to find your colour love , how to be a Colour Ninja with your outfits and it's psychological affects but I just wanted to put it into context within this post.
You see the process of reaching for colour is so reflective of your both your personality and tastes. We may love a soft palette and a neutral rather than a bright or dramatic contrast and that's totally fine but we sometimes tend to stick to what we know for fear of looking 'overdone', 'too old' , 'too young' or just prefer to feel safe. We all know black acts like a protective blanket sometimes.
Therefore, the next time you visit y our wardrobe or drawers, just be mindful of maybe what's missing? Arrange your clothes into colours and see what happens? You might get a surprise and realise that the gorgeous colours you love so much and use everywhere else or not in your closet.
My advice if this is the case... start small and inject a bit of colour into nail polish, jewellery or accessories.
So, there we have it... the things we wear, own and cherish really do make us who we are and the good stuff can certainly perk up your mood whenever you need it. Enjoy them and be grateful for what you do have and reacquaint yourselves with them again. Anything that doesn't fill you with happy...let it go.
By the way if you would like to learn more about how you can feel more energised about yourself from the comfort of your own home and in your own time, then check out my Online Image Service here As an Holistic Image Coach and Body Positive Advocate I'm here to help you build a happier self image .