Dopamine dressing. One of my favorite habits to improve mental health. It combines self-expression, coping mechanisms, style and mental health.
Self-Expression for People with Anxiety
Self-expression for people with anxiety is hard to do. Obviously. It’s hard trying to live life unnoticed. Social anxiety makes it feel like everyone and their mom is watching you. Watching you and judging you. All you want to do is walk across campus without feeling like the world is watching you do it.
Ugh. Do people not have anything better to do than scan their surroundings?
Don’t answer that…
How Self-Expression Influences Our Mood
Without a doubt, the way we express ourselves can influence our mood. According to PsychCentral, “healthy self-expression can make your life more fulfilling, allowing you to tap into your own unique creativity, desires and passions.” It is what makes us comfortable in our own skin. And this is key for those coping with social anxiety.
If you want an easy way to improve your mental health, read on.
What is a Common Form of Self-Expression?
Fashion. Style. Clothes. Shoes. Graphic Tees. All of these textiles and more are common forms of self-expression. No one just grabs a t-shirt without making sure it matches the bottom… Or maybe that is only true for me.
Clothes as Self-Expression
Personally, I love the way that clothes and shoes can reflect my personality. It’s my favorite form of self-expression. Clothes can tell people things about me.
For example: most of my outfits have pink involved. Those who see me regularly can correctly assume that I like the color pink.
Self-expression through personal style is an easy way to communicate with others. Especially for people with social anxiety. My classmate doesn’t have to tell me that he likes working out. I can tell from his sweat-wet hair, toned body and Lululemon outfit.
What is Dopamine Dressing?
Dopamine dressing is a great coping mechanism for fashion enthusiasts. It’s also great for individuals wanting to exercise self-expression. According to Stacey Addo, dopamine dressing is “wearing colors, silhouettes, and accessories that either hold a lot of meaning or just bring you joy” (CollegeFashionista).
I can attest to this. My heart rate slows in public spaces when I am wearing something I like. My eyes don’t anxiously look about the room when I have a full face of makeup. It’s not because I am vain. Nor is it because I want to impress someone. The reason I am less anxious when I dress-up is because it makes me feel more comfortable. I get the most anxious when I am uncomfortable.
How Does Dopamine Dressing Improve Mental Health?
This question is pretty self-explanatory. An important part of improving mental health is reducing the authority of negative emotions. Notice I didn’t say “eliminating the authority of negative emotions.” If you struggle with mental illness, then you know how difficult (and perhaps impossible) that is. We may not be able to eliminate negative emotions. But we can reduce their authority.
Dopamine dressing reduces the authority of negative emotions, thoughts, and self-talk. Engaging in this form of self-expression enriches positive emotions, thoughts, and self-talk. It brings us joy and comfort. The influx of positive emotions that come from dopamine dressing improves our mental health.
Easy Ways to Begin Dopamine Dressing
Let me guess. You don’t know where to start? That’s alright. Here is a list of some easy ways to begin dopamine dressing:
Wear your favorite color
Wear items that feel comfortable on your skin
Wear items that you feel okay with others seeing you in (I’m talking to YOU, socially anxious introverts!)
Wear things that you love
Wear what displays things you love (a band, college, place, object, etc.)
Accessorize with jewelry that has sentimental value (this is yet another explanation for why couples wear wedding rings 24/7)
Invest in a nice pair of shoes (that you can actually walk in. How can you expect a good mood when you can’t even walk comfortably?)
Dopamine Dressing is a Timeless, Genderless, Ageless, and Easy Coping Skill
This is the beauty of dopamine dressing. Anyone can try it.
It might not be for you, but it’s worth a try! You may not feel the effects immediately. A routine may have to be established before you start feeling better in your own skin. What I do know is that this is a coping skill that has been working for me FOR YEARS.
And I cannot recommend it enough.
All the Peace,