Routines. As human beings, we’re prone to them. We have an affinity for them. We low-key freak out when they’re thrown out of whack. And with the current COVID-19 epidemic, a lot of people’s routines have been disrupted. For some of us, it’s as simple as having to keep a distance at work. For most of us, though, it means wearing a mask in the office at best, or self-imposed isolation at worst.
At first, it seemed like a blessing in disguise. An excuse to wear pajamas all day? Work from the comfort of your bedroom? Get started with productive tasks before you’ve even had a shower? Maybe even...spending your “commute time” getting a little extra shut-eye?
But now, the novelty has worn off, and we’re finding the drudgery of being perpetual homebodies is toxic to our mental health. So how do we fight back?
Getting Dressed for Mental Health
There’s a lot to be said for keeping as much of your daily schedule as possible. A lot. Some of it has to do with those darn routines. One of the things humans have tried to do for millennia is make the future more predictable. Routines are one way to make that possible, and when they’re disrupted, all the uncertainty we’ve tried to banish from our lives comes rushing back in. It can leave us anxious and feeling emotionally off-balance.
There’s something else, though. Our brains take cues from our routine to know what mode to be in. For example, when we switch into loose-fitting cozy PJs and turn off all the brighter lights in the house, our brain starts preparing for sleep. The opposite happens when we get ready for the day. Showering, grooming, and dressing tells the brain it’s time to be productive, and skipping those steps can leave us mentally roadblocked.
So even when we’re working from home, these “stimulus controls” can help us feel like we’re sitting in our office chair, ready to take on the day. You just have to be willing to treat your stay-at-home routine as the real thing.
The Importance of Comfort
Does that mean you have to iron your pantsuit and wear heels all day? We don’t think so. After all, what good is the work-from-home life if you can’t make the most of it?
While some fortunate individuals get to enjoy relaxed dress codes at work, quite a few of us have to deal with strict guidelines that are a bowtie and a cumberbund away from “black tie” affairs. So when we have the opportunity to relax a little and enjoy more comfortable clothing, should we really waste it?
Killing Two Birds with One Stone
What we’re advocating here is a balance between the two. By all means, do your routine—shower, makeup, the works. Do as much as feels necessary. But when you reach into your wardrobe for something to wear, grab something that walks the line between ready for work, and ready for action.
What do we mean? Simple. Wear something that gives you the freedom to do other things for your mental health, whether that be a catnap or a workout. Like yoga wear, for example. With flexible, comfortable clothing like yoga wear, you don’t have to worry about changing clothes when it’s time for your oh-so-critical lunch workout (which we strongly recommend for mental health reasons).
Wearing yoga gear means you can contort yourself into whatever position that’s needed to get comfortable in your home office chair. It means you can get up and stretch every 30 minutes like you’re supposed to, without worrying about being too revealing or ripping a seam. And it means at least a little bit of rebellion against the dull corporate culture.
So as you’re getting up for another day of remote work, go ahead and keep your routine, wear something both fabulous and functional, and don’t sweat the rest (until it’s time for your work out, of course).