Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Dressing to Impress – How Fashion Can Improve Anxiety

For years, people have scoffed at the idea that being fashionable is worthwhile. Many argue that fashion is itself a product of the media, and that being comfortable is actually more important.

They're not entirely wrong. Comfort really is important – even for mental health. If you're not comfortable, you're not going to find yourself feeling proud and upbeat when you're out and about. But comfort is also not as simple as throwing on a T-shirt and sweats. Part of comfort is about avoiding self-consciousness, and that's where fashion comes back into play.

Fashion Improve Anxiety

Anxiety and Being Self-Conscious
Anxiety is a complex disorder, and it rarely has any one single cause. But when you have anxiety, it tends to be self-sustaining. For example, if you have anxiety when you're out in public, you become more likely to look for indications that you're being judged. If you're looking for them you'll always find them, which then creates more anxiety for the future.

Dressing comfortably is important. But unfortunately, dressing comfortably and paying no attention to your fashion can also create many of these same problems. Those that are dressed too casually, or in a way that makes them look less attractive are unintentionally increasing their own self-consciousness when they go up and talk to those that are well dressed. They're aware of their poor style at that moment and they're thinking about it when they approach others.

We see this a lot in courtship. Men that tend to be poorly dressed generally feel self-conscious about the idea of going up to a well-dressed and attractive woman, acknowledging the difference in their "attractiveness," causing her to feel unapproachable. That, in turn, reinforces any anxiety the person felt about approaching her, which in turn makes it harder to approach similar women in the future.

This affects many different aspects of life – from work, to time with friends, to various life activities. If you're self-conscious about your appearance in any way, you're likely to experience greater anxiety in public, which in turn tends to reinforce any anxieties you have and make it more likely for you to experience anxiety in the future.

How Dressing Well is the Solution
For this reason, "dressing well' becomes a solution for anxiety. You don't necessarily need to be in a suit, but taking the time to choose an outfit that looks attractive can actually help you with your confidence. It provides you with:

  • Less self-consciousness.
  • More confidence in your looks.
  • Rarely feeling out of place.
Even those that swear they don't care what other people think about their outfit will find dressing in a way that is more fashionable to provide these benefits. There are also always ways to still dress comfortable or dress how you like while still dressing nicely as well. A well cut T-shirt is still a t-shirt, but looks better than an over sized band shirt, and so on.

In addition, "comfort" is often based on what you know. Those that wear suits daily rarely feel uncomfortable in a suit. It's those that haven't tried to dress more fashionably that tend to struggle the most, because they're simply not used to the feels and cuts of the fabric. The body adapts for comfort, and the more you wear these items that you previously deemed uncomfortable, the more comfortable they'll feel.

So keep in mind that while the fashion industry may be a little wild at times, trying to make sure you're confident in your appearance has some very real value. If you already suffer from anxiety or mental health issues, ensuring that you at least look your best at any given time can have some surprising benefits.
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