Do Your Clothes Reflect Your Mental Health: Continuing The Return To Work Conversation

The work-at-home trend is on the rise, and more companies than ever are allowing their employees to work from home as a way to help employees maintain work-life balance. Also, there is increased competition for qualified employees, as hiring has been a challenge for many businesses, especially since the pandemic, so this discussion is even […]

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The work-at-home trend is on the rise, and more companies than ever are allowing their employees to work from home as a way to help employees maintain work-life balance. Also, there is increased competition for qualified employees, as hiring has been a challenge for many businesses, especially since the pandemic, so this discussion is even more critical.  But with so many back-to-work options, it can be hard to decide what’s best for you. One of the essential factors. that I believe everyone who is in this predicament should consider is your mental health.

The article will discuss how clothing can reflect your mental health and give you insight into your moods or emotional well-being.

It is said that clothes make the man [woman]. 

But what about when you work from home? 

How do your work-from-home clothes reflect your mental health? 

With so many companies discussing work options, from full-time in-person, hybrid, or purely virtual work – this isn’t necessarily an easy decision to make. There are clear pros and cons with each option, and then those risks and benefits need to be analyzed.  

First, one has to look inside themselves to review how they responded to working from home during the early months of the pandemic. One has to objectively evaluate your response after the initial shock of the pandemic went away. As humans, we are creatures of habit, and we are more predictable than we often realize. Social isolation is a growing problem that can lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicide. In the pandemic period, when many people complained of loneliness or feeling isolated, it’s no surprise they had adverse responses like anger issues, among others. After we have a better understanding of this COVID 19 pandemic, we have to choose between personal collegiality over being virtual hermits.

Socialization has been an essential factor in avoiding these negative impacts from isolation. As employees, we love having “water cooler talk” at work, getting caught up about what’s going on inside your company – meeting new faces while also staying connected within the organization. However, working from home doesn’t give one these one-on-one interactions.

In this article, I will focus discussion on the work from home option. Working from home has its many perks, but it is not a long-term solution for most people. Working at your own pace and enjoying freedom are just some of what working outside offers. However, without an intrinsic motivation or passion in one’s work – which can only be achieved with great boundaries– this may not last too much longer either! Working from home requires an individual to receive great intrinsic motivation from their work. They need to be passionate about their work, extremely motivated, and organized. These individuals need to have great boundaries. As humans, we are creatures of habits, and we need a routine to stay healthy. There need to be anchors in our environment to help train the mind to be ready for work.  

Our work clothes are one of the anchors or physical or emotional triggers to perform a certain task. When we are in our work clothes, those around us know we are at work, and we know as well. Even as tiny toddlers, my young children have learned the visual cues to know that mom is going to work. They associate certain clothes, my purse, my car keys as triggers that I will work. When I wear PJs or my yoga clothes, they do not associate that with me at work, nor do they ask me if I am going anywhere.

Dressing up can take extra effort, as one has to shower, groom, and for some of us, put on some make-up and something that makes us feel and look good. A study outlines in GoodTherapy suggests what many women have experienced: dressing in nicer clothes makes you feel better. According to a recent news release, one study has shown that women who are depressed or sad are more likely to wear baggy tops, jeans, and a sweatshirt or jumper. For many women, what we wear is often a reflection of our mood, and in my life, this has shown to be a pretty clear indicator of how I am feeling.

If you are struggling with work from home, loss of motivation, or even depression at work, this article is for you. It’s time to look deeper into the root of these issues that may be impacting your work-life balance and wellness. The first thing first is awareness- we have to be open-minded and self-aware. We have to ask ourselves, what are the triggers to negative feelings or self-talk? Another question to consider is what type of clothes do I wear when feeling down? Am I wearing baggy clothing on days where I feel like my self-esteem has taken a hit? Once this information is clear, one can begin working toward finding solutions for how to improve mental health while continuing your role as an employee outside of office hours.

As some companies offer different types of work options (i.e., partial work), some people find themselves more motivated than others in making sure they dress well. I encourage those who have the opportunity of the full-time, work-from-home option to make sure that you are wrapping the part-and you dress just as if you are going into the office. If you find it more and more challenging to get motivated to work and dress, please listen up. It is essential to check in without yourself and objectively evaluate your feeling? How is your mood? Energy? Are you still finding pleasure in the activities that generally excite you? Or, do you find yourself losing interest in other things?

For other people, getting dressed into work clothing is a challenge because they notice that the clothes no longer fit because of weight gain. Physical activity and movement are so crucial for optimal mental wellness. Making time to prioritize health is critical. I decided to put my health and wellness first in my calendar, building my schedule around it.

I hear arguments that turning off the camera on virtual meetings makes it less uncomfortable for some people. The question is, why? Is there something in the camera that you do not like? What makes it awkward for you to keep the camera on? What can you do to improve the situation? I do not believe that running away from an uncomfortable situation is a permanent solution. I believe in dealing with concerns before they become a problem and holding oneself accountable for that process.

Our clothes and styles, the way we carry ourselves, and our body language are indicators of our mental health. As a physician, who has documented thousands of physical exams for mental health, part of the mental health exam is commenting on the presentation of the patient. The way the patient is dressed is something we comment on. The ability of the patient to make eye content, their tone, body language are all cues into their current mental health status. I encourage you to look your best every day you get ready to work, even if, your office, is in your home office.

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