When I was younger and first starting out my career, I loved getting dressed for work.
Clothes for me were not just for covering. I am a visually creative person, I am energised by beauty around me and enjoying dressing up in clothes for any occasion. Creating professional outfits with a personal unique touch to show my personality was a huge joy for me.
When I was first encountering strong pain and illness, I lived in my pyjamas for months which is to be expected when you are spending your days in bed resting and have no extra energy to get changed. After a while, I hated the sight of my pyjamas. They were no longer a source of comfort but of pain and bad memories and moods. I felt sloppy and unmotivated and depressed. I didn’t feel like myself. I was going through a huge period of transition and uncertainty, and my sense of self had been tied to things that were becoming less stable – my independence, my work, my income, my social life, my mental health, the list goes on and on.
To make matters worse, I had willingly and easily given up something that made me feel better without realising it and a ritual that I could have kept doing with a little assistance.
The real power of clothes comes in the form of being able to transform your mindset and mood in an instant. Clothes help us to transition into different states of being and doing, especially when we don’t have any other cues.
We wear our favourite and most flattering outfit when we need to feel confident for a job interview or a date. When we change our clothes in the first few minutes when we get home after work, we are signalling to ourselves that the work day is over and it’s time to relax, and we automatically put on something comfy. We use it to energise for exercise by wearing our favourite gym gear and tying up your shoelaces. Putting on a uniform for school or for an organisation helps us feel a sense of unity with others and one part of a bigger picture. Being well dressed and presentable may be social conditioning but it is also a sign of respect – it can say ‘I respect you and will appear clean and appropriately dressed for the occasion’.
It becomes a lot less obvious the need for different clothing when we are confined to our house because of illness or injury. We are only moving room to room, so why bother? But we need to consider, is our mindset changing to be of best benefit for the next activity?
We are so used to routines and rituals in our days that when we stop doing them, we subconsciously stop changing our mindsets. We have been programmed to know that it is time to go to sleep when we put on our pyjamas every evening. If we have been wearing her pyjamas all day, what is signalling to our brains that it is time to wind down? The absence of that cue can lead to delays in sleep and if you are already struggling with pain and illness, you probably don’t want to add that too. If you are working from home, how do you transition into a professional working ability and presence, if you are still in the clothes that you sleep in or exercise in? With the increase of working from home and attending appointments via video call, sometimes getting dressed can help make us feel normal and we can pretend until it feels real that we are at the workplace or venue, even if we are just walking to and sitting down at the computer in our study.
Probably the most important part of the exercise of getting dressed each day is to preserve the simple joys especially when we are in times of difficulty, pain or struggle. There is so much joy in waking up on a weekend morning and staying in your pyjamas while eating breakfast and relaxing with a newspaper or watching cartoons with your kids. This is a novelty and a joy that we don’t want to lose. Important moments like these are what great memories are made out of, and it is the good memories and little things to look forward to that get us through times of crisis.
So each morning, even if you plan to go back to bed during the day or not leave the house, change into some comfortable clothes. Save your pyjamas for the evening as a source of comfort and reward that you got through another day. If you are having a hard day put on something that uplifts you. When you are cooking in the kitchen, put on an apron so that when you take it off you know that the work is done and you can sit back and relax with your meal and loved ones. Do your best to preserve the joy wherever possible.
As with any suggestion, do what you are able to do and use it as an experiment. Try it and see if it works for you. I would love to hear your thoughts and results so please leave a comment below.
Take heart Readers, I’ll keep the light on.
What do we do when the days all start to feel the same? How do we get ourselves out of a funk?
A few words on driving, medical conditions and compromises.
So often we can fall into the trap of assuming that someone is naturally gifted with skills, habits and traits. But what if they weren’t born like that and worked hard to be that person?
We all just want to be seen and heard for how we really are.
After a long day of trying to keep your head up and survive, it can be hard to remember the good little things that happened during the day. Gratitude becomes a giant exhale for the day. Get the bad stuff out of the way, and let’s focus on the good things and lighten the load.
In the second instalment of Take Control Of What You Can Series, I’m talking about regaining control of an environment to make you feel happier, healthier and safer.