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Clothing and Mental Health Connection

How Fashion Can Improve Your Mental Health

For many people, fashion is a vital part of the human experience. We decorate our bodies, express our creativity, and connect with others through the clothes we choose for ourselves. 

Fashion can influence social networks and professional opportunities, or it can create a much-needed creative outlet and confidence boost. For anyone who is struggling with their mental health, fashion can provide a way to improve their life. 

From societal pressure to body shaming in the media, there are so many aspects of daily life that are hurting mental health for everyone — no matter their gender. However, fashion can spark the confidence, productivity, and creativity that many need to cope. 

It Promotes Creativity

One of the primary benefits of fashion is that it can provide men with a much-needed creative outlet. Experimenting with new patterns, such as a checkered flannel, can help you to get out of your comfort zone and express your individuality. 

The pursuit of fashion doesn’t necessarily mean you have to completely reinvent your entire wardrobe. Instead, layer your existing clothes with new overshirts to express yourself. You can also try new colours, whether they are old favourites like navy or a unique colour such as light pink. If you don’t want to experiment with colours or textures, you can also try out new fabrics for your work shirts

It Can Boost Your Confidence

Advertisements and movies can give a false perception to the public of what the ideal body looks like. Again and again, plenty of studies show how dangerous this false perception is — eventually leading to unattainable and harmful fitness goals, body dysmorphia, and even disordered eating habits.

Although there may not be an escape from this onslaught of media, fashion can be a tool to help you find confidence in yourself by accentuating your best features. It can also be a bridge to finding your confidence outside of your comfort zone. A new colour or style can be just what you need to boost your confidence and help you stand out from the crowd. 

It can be easy when you are feeling low to fade into the background. But putting yourself out there and trying something new through fashion is a great way to work on building a better sense of self-love. 

It Makes You More In-touch With Your Emotions

Fashion also allows you to play with colour, and observe how it affects your mood. According to researchers at the Tibb Institute, colour affects your autonomic nervous system, the part of your nervous system that functions involuntarily. This means that colours can affect your brain that you have no control over. Choosing colours that will positively affect your emotions and the emotions of people around you is a unique way of improving your mental health. 

For example, researchers at the University of Melbourne have found that blue is the world’s favourite colour. It is associated with nature, with dependability, and often gives people feelings of calm. It may seem counterintuitive when you’re feeling blue, but picking fashion items with this same colour may help you find serenity. 

It Can Be Used As a Hobby

In a society that transforms individuals into human capital, it’s important to find value in yourself by investing in your hobbies. Hobbies are incredibly important for mental health. Thankfully, fashion can be an interesting hobby to throw yourself into. 

You can learn more about fashion history and textiles. You can try making your own clothing. You can even share new pieces that you purchase on social media and make connections. 

If you spend enough time outside of work on your hobby, you might choose to turn it into a side hustle or a new career. There are fashion-related jobs in social media, design, management, and more. 

It Creates More Opportunities for Social Connections

Fashion is not an isolated activity. Fashion exists on a global scale, with trends stretching through time and across geographic borders. Because fashion is such a widespread art form, it is easy to find opportunities for social connection within this space: 

  • Local store openings: Independently owned and operated stores are a great resource for finding new pieces that you love. When these stores open, or host events, you can attend, check out their work, and meet other people in your community who are interested in fashion. 
  • Fashion shows: Depending on where you live, you might be able to attend fashion shows held by local designers. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to meet local artists, designers, and fashion enthusiasts. You might even work with local talent to host your own fashion show! 
  • Virtual communities: If you live in a rural area, or you are hesitant about reaching out to the local community, you can always take advantage of virtual communities that you can find online. Making friends with other people who are interested in fashion can expand your social network on an international level. 

If you are trying to improve your mental health, then focusing on social connections is a necessity. According to the School of Public Health at Tulane University, isolation leads to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. 

A lack of a social network can even lead to sleeplessness and a compromised immune system. By making friends and finding others with similar interests, you are taking an active role in the improvement of your mental health. 

It Helps You Feel More Productive

One of the leading ways to improve productivity is to implement a daily routine. Performing certain tasks to prepare for your day can help your day to start right. 

Taking the time to choose your outfit is a fun addition to your morning routine. It promotes feelings of self-care and requires a level of attention to detail that will help to get your brain moving in the morning. 

You can also choose clothes while following the mantra of “dress for success.” By curating a professional wardrobe that fits your goals, you will be creating a positive mindset and will take a more active role in making those goals a reality. 

Retail Therapy Is Real and It Helps

Many people swear by retail therapy, and in a way, they may be right. According to researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, retail therapy causes our brains to release dopamine, can distract from anxiety, and is a valid form of stress relief when done in moderation. 

However, it is important not to shop in excess, and not put yourself under too much financial pressure. Shop responsibly, don’t over-consume, and dedicate money for fashion items outside of funds for necessities like rent, food, or savings. 

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