Wednesday, September 16, 2015

When Feeling Blue, Dress in Gold: How Kicking Off those Sweats Can Improve Your Mood

Unmotivated? Check.  Lazy? Check.  Feel miserable about everything not going your way? Check, check, check.  Let's throw on those sweats!

Sweat pants, baggy clothes, pajamas, uncombed hair, and unshaven legs (don't worry, I'm not going to feel them, so I'm not judging you) seem to have some sort of magnetic force to us when we are feeling a little down.  When we are in a bad mood, sometimes we gravitate toward ill-fitting clothes and an unkempt appearance because one - we want some kind of comfort, and two - no one understands what we are going through so why are we going to cater our appearance to their standards, trying to please them when we can't even please ourselves?!  Or so we tell ourselves.  Of course, we also might be in a bad mood because the laundry has piled up and we don't have any decent clothes left, but I digress.  Those two thoughts cause even more trouble for our already gloomy selves and thus need to be squashed, or simply groomed away. 
Like the yearning of a fuzzy blanket to shield us from the cold, we look to comfortable clothes as a blanket for our problems.   We want comfort in our lives, but just like wearing a ball gown doesn't make you an instant celebrity, wearing your comfy pajamas to do errands won't make you feel any better.  Underneath the clothes, you are still you, with the same problems as before.  So, you might be saying to yourself, just because you put on nicer clothes and comb your hair doesn't mean your problems will be magically solved.  Well, unfortunately, you are right.  However, putting on nicer-looking clothes and fixing yourself up even just a little bit has one advantage over a slouchy, unkempt appearance -  care. 
When we are hurt, we need care.  By taking a few extra moments to ready yourself, you have already begun that healing process; you are taking care of yourself, and thus your problems in the long run.  You are showing yourself that you are worth a few extra minutes.  You are giving yourself more attention.  You are rising above the problems and emotions that are trying to bring you down.  Nicer looking clothes are kind of like that bright-pink Barbie or tough-looking monster truck band-aid that kids want at the doctor's office.  Most kids don't want the boring old, beige band-aid, and they are smart.  The colorful, fancy band-aids seem to take all the pain away from the shot!  They make kids feel cool and special, so they're ready to go back out into the world!  The same goes with how we dress ourselves.  You can choose the beige band-aid and still feel the pain, or you can pick the glittery one that gives you something to feel good about.  And when we feel good about ourselves, others will notice and will feel good about you, too, which brings us to our second thought.
By no means do I think that we should mold ourselves into a facade  just to please others.  However, we need to be aware that as humans, we thrive off of some sort of acceptance and we do judge others based on appearance.  It happens, no matter how "independent" or "self-confident" we are.  People will react to you based on how you treat yourself.  If you don't care about yourself, people won't care about you either.  If you don't notice what you have going for yourself, people sure as heck won't either.  In fact, they probably will be turned off by your lack of self-confidence. 
"So Michelle, you are telling me to care about what people think of me?" 
Well, reader, in a way, yes.  Unless you live out in solitude in the mountains and never see humanity, you encounter and live with people all the time.  No matter how social you are, you have to find a way to interact with them at some point throughout the day or week.  If you are ignored every day of your life or if you notice that people are hesitant to talk to you because you look like a bush monster with horrid breath that came out from under some abandoned bridge, guess what - you will feel even MORE miserable about your life. 
While dressing up or grooming yourself may seem like you are using clothes to gain appreciation from others, in actuality, it is the self-appreciation that you had for yourself that morning that attracts others to you, not necessarily the outfit of choice.  The positive reactions from others is just an added bonus that stems from you taking care of your appearance.  As mentioned above, the care and self-worth you have given yourself by dressing up is one improvement toward a better mood.  Having positive social relationships or interactions is another way to bring you out of negativity.  Think of it this way - if you are out running errands and someone you don't even know smiles at you, holds the door for you, or even waves to you (all in a none-creepy way...that is a WHOLE different scenario), you typically feel good about the interaction. 
"Hey, someone noticed me.  That was nice.  I must be worthy of their attention. "
That is the thought process that subconsciously goes through our minds.  When we dress up, truth is, more people will want to give us that kind of positive interaction.  That is just how humanity works.  Yes, it is almost as if we are basing our own self-worth on how others perceive us, but they only perceive us positively because that is how we perceived ourselves, even if for a few extra minutes of combing our hair or putting on jeans instead of pajama pants.  Our positive action receives a positive action, which in turn, helps to boost our mood even more!  Our self-worth and the worth give to us by others are in this intertwined relationship; both feed off each other to improve our mood.   
You don't need to go grocery shopping in heels.  You don't need to wear a dress shirt to mow your lawn.  All you need to do is brush your teeth, comb your hair, and spend a few seconds thinking about what piece of clothing does your body more justice - a sweatshirt or a cuter top.  If you find yourself digging deeper and deeper into a hole of negativity, put on that fancy band-aid.  Draw people to notice you for a good reason.  Just a few extra minutes spent on yourself will start bringing you to a happier place.

Photo Credit: Maegan Tintari

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