Dressing During COVID 19 Matters

16 Apr Dressing During COVID 19 Matters

We are finding ourselves in unusual circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic. A large percentage of the population is working from home, often for the first time. We are  faced with new challenges, where we are combining our professional life with home life. Getting dressed for work may be one of those challenges. Generally most employees will not mind how you are dressing at present- as long as you are productive. And a few “comfort days” are sometimes needed in these unprecedented and stressful times. That is to say that wearing your yoga pants all day- occasionally isn’t so bad.

However, we do know that getting dressed for work helps us prepare mentally for the day and establishes a routine, hence often increasing our productivity. So in this new pandemic era having a routine can be key in time management. Also in creating a distinct divide between work and play or downtime. Keeping a morning routine- including getting dressed for work can help us maintain a sense of control and a degree of normality. Despite it sometimes feeling far removed from that during this uncertain period.

For some dressing down at home allows extra energy and time to complete other tasks. For example for some people the grooming routine can consume an hour or more. So not dedicating as much time could be beneficial. Nevertheless still having distinctions between work hours and down time- defined by dress sets healthy boundaries. Perhaps not spending as much time- but still having a work wardrobe that varies from exercise or leisure wear encourages the definition between work and play.

Trying to set routine time frames around getting ready for work, and ending work, can shift mental states and define boundaries. Selecting times similar to your regular work schedule sets predictability- something we crave in uncertain times. That may mean getting dressed into formal attire at 9am and then actively changing into more relaxed clothing and shoes at 6pm. One of the challenges when working from home is disengaging from work. Changing clothes and shoes will help you feel like you’re not always working and it is all blending into one- and cognitive active behavioural boundaries are being observed.

Additionally many experts believe that the garments and footwear help us feel good and dictate and influence our mood. So, it isn’t just about setting a routine but about choosing the tone of our day based on what we wear. When we dress and feel put together we are more likely to act that way.  Research has found that people feel more competent when wearing business attire.

In these uncertain times our clothing and footwear can be a source of comfort. Whether that means wearing your favourite cashmere sweater, or the shiny new shoes you have waiting for an outing- now is the time to pull out the things that make you feel positive. Being aware of how you feel each morning before you get ready for work, can help you prepare for the day. Experts suggest wearing warm tones like orange, red, yellow or reddish-purples can promote energy. And when you want to wind down and be a little more relaxed then cooler tones can be soothing. For example if you feel it is a little like groundhog day, then pull out that bright shirt, slip on those heels and see how just doing these simple things can help boost a mood.

It is also worth noting that just because we are home doesn’t mean that we can’t have a sense of occasion! Wearing your party pants and fancy heels- even when it’s a virtual event allows us to feel its special. Also date nights can include getting dressed up. Our clothing and our shoes have an enormous impact on how we view ourselves and how we come across. Even when we aren’t really leaving the house- lets keep our heels high, clothes fancy and make the most of this most unusual moment in history!

Alinda Small

BPsychSc., MastersScMed.