Self-care is a word that often gets overused in popular culture. Its definition changes from person to person. For some, self-care may mean getting out and taking a break from work. For others it may mean simply saying, “no” to one more thing. Regardless of how anyone defines the term self-care, I think most of us would agree that it is an important topic that needs to be taken a bit more seriously.
The reason self-care is an issue is indicative that we as a culture are ignoring are emotional and internal needs. Less, taking care of ourselves can often lead to stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms.
For this writing piece I want to examine self-care through the use of fashion.
What You Wear Communicates A Message
Many of us have a choice in what we wear and many of us even get to buy what we wear. There is a power and independence that for most of us adults we get to exercise when buying clothes. Some put a lot of thought into their purchases and some put little thought in. Where ever you fall on this spectrum, your clothing choices and how you wear them will communicate a message to others. Now we will never be able to control what others think about us, regardless of what we wear and that’s not what I’m attempting to communicate.
What you wear can send a powerful message about where you are at emotionally. As an example consider the last time you were really sick with the flu, there is a good chance that you didn’t put on a dress shirt, sweater and tie. You likely, put on what feels comfortable. When you’re sick, you don’t feel good, you don’t feel 100% emotionally. You’re tired, unhappy and just want to be well.
Consider what you are communicating when you get dressed for the day.
Dress To Your Age
Dress your age. If you are in your 30s don’t try and dress like you’re still a teenager. This also communicates a message about where you are emotionally. Focus on pieces that are complimentary to your body type, colors that work with your complexion and simple accessories that show you are an adult. If you struggle with figuring out what looks good there are many brands that send out catalogs or online lookbooks. Oneuppedmag would be a great starting place to see what is fashionable and get a sense for what looks good for your age.
It’s Not About Impressing Others, It’s About Feeling Confident
If you’re focus is soley to get noticed by others based on how well you dress, that also communicates a message about where you are emotionally. Because clothing, what looks good, image and self-care are such subjective topics almost anyone could make the argument that because they feel confident in who they are, they dress the way they do.
Confidence is not an over inflated ego, a false humility or low self-esteem. Confidence is knowing what your values are and not straying from them. Confidence is communicating with others where you are emotionally and not feeling ashamed. These of course are examples of confidence.
Dress out of a desire to be confident in yourself, but don’t confuse a desire to impress others with the way you dress as confidence.
I appreciate clothes and fashion. I didn’t grow up with being able to afford the latest and greatest when it came to clothes. As an adult, it is important to me to dress nice and with confidence. I have seen positive changes in my emotional life as well as the clients I work with when they feel fashionably put together.
I am a licensed psychotherapist. I run a private practice where I work with families, men, women, children on various mental health issues that can range from mild anxiety to a severe personality disorder. For the last 10 years I have had the privilege of working in the mental health field and seeing the important role that dressing well can play in a persons’ emotional makeup. I know that anxiety, depression and mental health issues are broad topics and I certainly don’t want to make it sound like, “just dress nice and you won’t have anxiety.” There are many reasons for anxiety and depression and some of them are significantly clinical and for those individuals that are there they need to be seeking professional help to guide them through an appropriate treatment process. Consider evaluating your wardrobe, what you wear as a way of investing in your “self-care.” You may find that by doing this you will increase your confidence and you may simply feel better.
About The Author
Christian Bringolf is a licensed mental health therapist. He has been working in the mental health field for the last eight years in Seattle with children, families and adults. He enjoys hanging with his wife and daughters and is a fan of men’s wear/style and photography. You can follow him on Instagram at @denim_and_whiskey