The popular cliché ‘dressed up and nowhere to go’ is the phrase of the moment and it has never made more sense than it does now. As we all deal with the need to work from home during this difficult time, it is all too easy to lose motivation and not pay attention to how we are presenting ourselves. It is very important that we make the effort to dress as we normally would at work and create a healthy routine to counteract the possibility of becoming complacent with our appearance.
It has been demonstrated that the way we dress can have an impact on our productivity as well as our mood. In fact, dressing casually can even lead us to feel less focused and alert according to Dr. Karen Pine, Professor of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She goes on to suggest that we can even adopt the characteristics associated with a certain piece of clothing. Our appearance, and of course the style and choice of clothing we choose creates certain frames of reference that have been conditioned from our past experiences. We have therefore created a lot of meaning to certain styles and looks and these have created strong, pervasive meanings within society and importantly within ourself.
Related to our perception of self is the view that how we appear can relate to our focus and level of alertness. So when we dress for business at home, we take on the role and behaviours of being in the workplace which for most is when we bring our most powerful and capable self to the day.
During this period, we also have the opportunity to experiment as we are in a moment in time where we are spending most of our time online and with ourselves or immediate family. Take the chance to consider the following strategies to try some innovative ways to use your existing wardrobe:
- Co-ordinate your clothes differently – switch suit pieces or pair bottom pieces with different tops than you normally do,
- Wear your watch or stack pieces of jewellery differently than usual,
- Choose pieces you haven’t worn in a while (or take the opportunity to just get rid of them altogether),
- Accessorise more – add more accessories to your outfits to completely change the final result,
- Experiment with make-up, perhaps try a new technique or colour,
- Wear an unexpected colour – remember colours can have a tremendous impact on our psychological state, and
- Consider changing the way you style your hair for a new look.
Creating boundaries to get you into work mode
If you find it hard to adjust to the new routine of working from home and need to establish the working ‘mindset’, make sure you are adhering to your usual morning routine. Proceed with your skincare regimen and apply your make up, have breakfast, get dressed, and then begin your work-day at home as you normally would if you were travelling to your workplace. When the workday is finished, changing your outfit will tell your brain that you are not in work mode anymore. Being deliberate about your work and rest/family time will really help produce the balance required when we are working and living within the same environment day after day. The new way of living and working will be with us for a while so it is critical that we create space and opportunities for sufficient recovery every day. Wishing everyone peace and health during this difficult time. Remember that being purposeful and creative during this challenging time will help us to re-think, fine-tune and plan our personal image for the future and allow us to have a fresh start once things begin to return to normal.