As the world continues to grapple with the spread of COVID-19, more and more people with nonessential jobs are being asked to stay inside. And when you're home for weeks at a time, it’s easy to start spending entire days in your pajamas. But, unless you’re feeling sick, experts say it’s worth it to put some clothes on.
“The way we dress has a correlation with our emotional state,” says Elizabeth Beecroft, an LMSW based in New York. “If we’re looking a bit crusty, in the same outfit we’ve worn the last few days, that has an impact on how we feel either in general or about ourselves.” We’re currently in a time where we may feel isolated, less connected, and alone. “It could become really easy to not have the motivation to want to get out of our pajamas or just simply due to being in the comfort of our living room not feeling it’s necessary.”
“Staying stuck in your pajamas day after day sets your mood. It literally keeps you stuck,” offers Jennifer Musselman, a psychotherapist who lives between Los Angeles and San Francisco. She says that not getting dressed can also lead you to eat poorly, drink more, and reduce positivity and engagement in life across the board.
When we take time in the morning to shower and put on clean clothes (yes, comfy clothes are included) we tend to feel more put-together, confident, and ready to take on the day. And this can help us show up better in life and be more focused, even from the comfort of the couch.
Even the act of getting dressed is directly tied to your mental health. “Getting dressed in the morning can play a role in your mood throughout the day and lead to further productivity, optimism, motivation and an overall improved mood,” believes Beecroft. The psychotherapist considers putting on clothes to be an important part of mental hygiene, especially during our current pandemic.
“Just like you set a mood with music, dim lighting, candles for romance, getting ready for the day sets your mood for being productive and prepared to tackle the day,” says Musselman. According to her, putting on an outfit in the morning releases neurotransmitters in our brains including dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and endorphins, sparking a sense of purpose. These chemicals naturally boost our mental state, which is necessary during tough times.
Both practitioners agree that if you’re having trouble switching out of your pajamas, it helps to set a routine. For example, Musselman says to create a daily schedule of how you'll spend your time. “Set your alarm and wake up at the same time every day (except weekends) and get your body moving. Either exercise first thing in the morning then [get] showered and dressed or head straight to getting ready for the day before you pick up any technology or turning on the news.” For those working from home, Beecroft says a routine can help people separate their “home life” from their “work life.”
Plus, there’s also an opportunity to have some fun with your style. “Try new outfits you normally wouldn’t wear (no one will see anyway!), be silly, be bold. Make it fun for yourself and something to look forward to.” If you’re feeling uninspired with your wardrobe New York-based stylist Brandon Tan recommends identifying one piece you're into and building off of that. “There are no rules, especially in the confines of one's home. And for those WFH video conferences... keep it business up top and party down low. Nobody has to know,” he says. “What better time than now to try something new? I've just set out on an ambitious quest to elevate [my] sweatpants.”