The Mental Health Benefits Of Getting Dressed For Work

·5 min read

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has become more aware than ever of the importance of hand-washing, disinfecting surfaces and taking care of our immune systems.

But while you’re physically separated from your social support systems and your routines are disrupted, minding your mental health is just as important as caring for your physical health. Major mental health organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness recommend keeping your “getting ready” routines intact as a way to do just that.

So, why do waking up at your usual time, showering and dressing for work will help you stay mentally well? De’Von Patterson, a psychologist at Baptist Behavioral Health, said humans like knowing what’s going to happen next and that uncertainty can lead to anxiety.

“A lot of what people are experiencing right now is a disruption of their routine,” he told HuffPost. “When you don’t know what’s coming next, that can be a challenging thing for some people, so a lot of it is about having some semblance of what your day and week looks like. Knowing what’s coming next can be comforting.”

“There’s something called stimulus control where your behaviors are determined by a certain set of cues,” psychologist De’Von Patterson said. “Some people may have an easier time being productive if they recreate the cues associated with their productivity." (Photo: allensima via Getty Images)
“There’s something called stimulus control where your behaviors are determined by a certain set of cues,” psychologist De’Von Patterson said. “Some people may have an easier time being productive if they recreate the cues associated with their productivity." (Photo: allensima via Getty Images)

Whether it’s because of the social isolation, lack of productivity or drop in physical activity, working from home can make you feel anywhere from a little blue to downright depressed. So by waking up at your usual time, getting dressed (in something other than pajamas) and doing your hair and makeup as usual, Patterson explains that you’re actually getting your brain ready for a better workday.

“There’s something called stimulus control where your behaviors are determined by a certain set of cues,” Patterson said. “Some people may have an easier time being productive if they recreate the cues associated with their productivity. If they’re getting dressed, that puts them in the mindset to work or study.”

Ryan G. Beale is a licensed psychotherapist and the CEO of Therapy.Live’s Prepare U mental health curriculum. He explains that getting dressed for different parts of your day is going to help break up the weird time warp that is quarantine.

While you don’t have to wear formal business attire or a work uniform to reap the benefits, it’s important just to get dressed.

“I don’t think it’s critical to put your suit on, but you could go ahead and put on khakis and a polo, something that is different from your lounging clothes,” he said. “It tells your brain something new is about to happen and helps you shift gears. That’s why it’s important to shift throughout the day. The reality is if you don’t, you’re likely going to be in a bit of a Groundhog Day and it can put you in a funk.”

It's not necessary to wear a suit at home, but anything a level above your pajamas can help your brain to better anticipate the day's events. (Photo: skynesher via Getty Images)
It's not necessary to wear a suit at home, but anything a level above your pajamas can help your brain to better anticipate the day's events. (Photo: skynesher via Getty Images)

Stefanie Schwartz, a psychologist at Baptist Behavioral Health, recommends figuring out what you enjoy about your current getting-ready routine and planning from there.

“It’s individualized, what makes you feel good,” she said. “If makeup makes me feel good, or doing my hair makes me feel good, I’ll do it. If not doing your makeup feels good right now, instead use that time to do something else. Otherwise, it can become a chore and have the opposite effect.”

“For some people, it’ll be, ‘Look, I get to wear my casual clothes I never get to wear this week. Is that something that’s going to make me feel better right now?’” Schwartz said. “I realized the other day I haven’t worn my engagement ring for the past month I’ve been working from home. Usually, when I wear it and look at it, it reminds me of when he proposed and how grateful I am. I’ve since started wearing it.”

When it comes to salon visits for your hair or nails, Schwartz recommends continuing your beauty routine at home to practice self-care and taking pride in doing it yourself.

“This may sound really silly, but for those of us who go and get our nails done, this may be the first time we’re having to do that ourselves,” Schwartz said. “Anything small you can do to feel empowered and feel that positivity is great. We can’t go to the hairdresser and cover our grays right now, so we’re learning new skills and that can be empowering, rather than feeling like, ‘Oh great, my nails are a mess and I’m a mess.’”

Ultimately, all three experts agree that you should be flexible with your routine right now and not be too critical of yourself. Even so, they say that sometimes, getting up early and slapping on some mascara really can help.

“It can be really easy to get in a slump and get into anxiety and depression,” Schwartz said. “We’re going through something together, but a lot of this depends on our own personal behaviors.”

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Sunscreen: Laroche-Posay Melt In Sunscreen Milk

“Laroche-Posay always does well on consumer reports,” Saedi said. “One reason is that it’s SPF 60, which is actually accurate. And the other reason is that it goes on really smoothly.”<br><br> A lot of people don’t like wearing sunscreen because it makes them look chalky or, if they’re walking or biking to work, it melts on your face. “This sunscreen just feels really nice and doesn’t leave a residue. It also doesn’t have any of the chemical ingredients so it’s great for reapplying,” she said.<br><br> “Most people are really bad about reapplying,” Saedi said, “You should reapply every two hours and even more frequently if you’ll be in the water.”<br><br><strong> </strong><a href="https://www.laroche-posay.us/sunscreen/anthelios-melt-in-sunscreen-milk-spf-60-antheliosmeltinmilk.html"><strong>Laroche-Posey Melt in Sunscreen Milk</strong></a><strong>, $36</strong>
“Laroche-Posay always does well on consumer reports,” Saedi said. “One reason is that it’s SPF 60, which is actually accurate. And the other reason is that it goes on really smoothly.”<br><br> A lot of people don’t like wearing sunscreen because it makes them look chalky or, if they’re walking or biking to work, it melts on your face. “This sunscreen just feels really nice and doesn’t leave a residue. It also doesn’t have any of the chemical ingredients so it’s great for reapplying,” she said.<br><br> “Most people are really bad about reapplying,” Saedi said, “You should reapply every two hours and even more frequently if you’ll be in the water.”<br><br> Laroche-Posey Melt in Sunscreen Milk, $36

Sunscreen: Isdin Eryfotona Actinica

Isdin&amp;rsquo;s Eryfotona Actinica sunscreen is extremely lightweight and easy to rub into the skin &amp;ndash; and it&amp;rsquo;s Rogers&amp;rsquo; top choice. This sunscreen has a milky texture and comes in both white and a universal tint for people with darker skin. &amp;ldquo;It&amp;rsquo;s not cheap,&amp;rdquo; Rogers said, &amp;ldquo;but it is very well formulated and comes with a lot of bells and whistles like antioxidants including 11% zinc oxide.&amp;rdquo;&lt;a href=&quot;https://www.chemicalsafetyfacts.org/zinc-oxide/&quot;&gt; Zinc oxide&lt;/a&gt; reflects and scatters damaging UV rays.&amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&amp;lt;br&amp;gt; &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.isdin.com/us/ultralight-emulsion-sunscreen-spf-50-eryfotona_actinica.html&quot;&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Isdin Eryfotona Actinica&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;strong&gt;, $55&lt;/strong&gt;
Isdin’s Eryfotona Actinica sunscreen is extremely lightweight and easy to rub into the skin – and it’s Rogers’ top choice. This sunscreen has a milky texture and comes in both white and a universal tint for people with darker skin. “It’s not cheap,” Rogers said, “but it is very well formulated and comes with a lot of bells and whistles like antioxidants including 11% zinc oxide.” Zinc oxide reflects and scatters damaging UV rays.<br><br> Isdin Eryfotona Actinica, $55

Sunscreen: Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer

&amp;ldquo;If you decided today that you're not going to get as much sun,&amp;rdquo; Rogers said, &amp;ldquo;your body could actually go back and correct some of the mutations and damage that happened in the past because it&amp;rsquo;s not trying to keep up with any new damage you're doing.&amp;rdquo;&amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&amp;lt;br&amp;gt; According to Rogers, Drunk Elephant sunscreen comes with a whole slew of antioxidants including&lt;a href=&quot;https://www.huffpost.com/entry/astaxanthin_b_2750910&quot;&gt; astaxanthin&lt;/a&gt;, grape juice and sunflower shoot extracts. It&amp;rsquo;s also infused with raspberry seed and marula oils. &lt;a href=&quot;https://www.drunkelephant.com/products/umbra-sheer-physical-daily-defense-spf-30&quot;&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;strong&gt;, $34&lt;/strong&gt;
“If you decided today that you're not going to get as much sun,” Rogers said, “your body could actually go back and correct some of the mutations and damage that happened in the past because it’s not trying to keep up with any new damage you're doing.”<br><br> According to Rogers, Drunk Elephant sunscreen comes with a whole slew of antioxidants including astaxanthin, grape juice and sunflower shoot extracts. It’s also infused with raspberry seed and marula oils. Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer, $34

Sunscreen: Supergoop Zinc Sunscreen

Rogers is also a fan of Supergoop Zinc Sunscreen, a 100% mineral SPF 40, non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen. The pink-hued lotion is infused with ingredients like winter cherry, coconut fruit and blueberry extracts to help nourish your skin.&amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&amp;lt;br&amp;gt; &lt;a href=&quot;https://supergoop.com/products/zincscreen-100-mineral-lotion&quot;&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Supergoop Zinc Sunscreen&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;strong&gt;, $42&lt;/strong&gt;
Rogers is also a fan of Supergoop Zinc Sunscreen, a 100% mineral SPF 40, non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen. The pink-hued lotion is infused with ingredients like winter cherry, coconut fruit and blueberry extracts to help nourish your skin.<br><br> Supergoop Zinc Sunscreen, $42

Lip Balm: Vaseline Lip Therapy

When it comes to lip balms, Rogers advises against using anything with excess ingredients like cinnamon, mint or even lanolin.&amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&amp;ldquo;Your lips don't have a characterizing layer on them so they&amp;rsquo;re going to absorb the chemicals so much more than other parts of your body,&amp;rdquo; she said. So what does Rogers recommend when it comes to lip balms? Good old fashioned Vaseline.&amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&lt;strong&gt; &lt;/strong&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;http://www.amazon.com/Vaseline-Petroleum-Providing-Hydration-Essential/dp/B07HRK9Z3J/ref=sr_1_17&quot;&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Vaseline Lip Therapy&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;strong&gt;, $2&lt;/strong&gt;
When it comes to lip balms, Rogers advises against using anything with excess ingredients like cinnamon, mint or even lanolin.<br><br>“Your lips don't have a characterizing layer on them so they’re going to absorb the chemicals so much more than other parts of your body,” she said. So what does Rogers recommend when it comes to lip balms? Good old fashioned Vaseline.<br><br> Vaseline Lip Therapy, $2

Anti-Aging: Differin Adapalene

If you&amp;rsquo;re looking for a retinoid instead of a retinol (retinoids are more potent), &lt;a href=&quot;https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2374937/&quot;&gt; prescription strength adapalene&lt;/a&gt; is now available over the counter.&amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&amp;lt;br&amp;gt; &amp;ldquo;You can get it at any drug store now for about $15,&amp;rdquo; Saedi said, &amp;ldquo;which is kind of amazing because two years ago if you were to get it without insurance, it was close to $300.&amp;rdquo; Differin helps prevent fine lines and wrinkles and maintains clear skin.&amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&amp;lt;br&amp;gt; &lt;a href=&quot;https://www.amazon.com/Differin-Adapalene-0-1-Acne-Treatment/dp/B07L1PHSY9/&quot;&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Differin Adapalene&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;strong&gt;, $15&lt;/strong&gt;
If you’re looking for a retinoid instead of a retinol (retinoids are more potent), prescription strength adapalene is now available over the counter.<br><br> “You can get it at any drug store now for about $15,” Saedi said, “which is kind of amazing because two years ago if you were to get it without insurance, it was close to $300.” Differin helps prevent fine lines and wrinkles and maintains clear skin.<br><br> Differin Adapalene, $15

Anti-Aging: Oil of Olay Regenerist Retinol 24

As for retinols, Saedi recommends the Oil of Olay Regenerist line and Skinceutical retinol cream. &amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;https://www.olay.com/regenerist-retinol-24-night-facial-moisturizer-fragrance-free&quot;&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Oil of Olay Regenerist Retinol24&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;strong&gt;, $39&lt;/strong&gt;
As for retinols, Saedi recommends the Oil of Olay Regenerist line and Skinceutical retinol cream. <br><br>
Oil of Olay Regenerist Retinol24 , $39

Anti-Aging: SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3 Cream

Saedi is also a fan of SkinCeuticals, which makes a few different retinol creams. The 0.3 cream is recommended for first-time retinol users because of its gentler, less potent formula. Once skin has become conditioned to retinol usage, it&amp;rsquo;s usually possible to move to a higher concentrated retinol. SkinCeuticals has 0.5 and 1.0 products as well.&amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&amp;lt;Br&amp;gt; Skin can be very sensitive to retinol, so it&amp;rsquo;s best to start out with a small amount. Also, pregnant women should not use retinols.&amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&amp;lt;br&amp;gt; &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.skinceuticals.com/retinol-0.3-3606000507142.html&quot;&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Skinceuticals Retinol Cream&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;strong&gt;, $67&lt;/strong&gt;
Saedi is also a fan of SkinCeuticals, which makes a few different retinol creams. The 0.3 cream is recommended for first-time retinol users because of its gentler, less potent formula. Once skin has become conditioned to retinol usage, it’s usually possible to move to a higher concentrated retinol. SkinCeuticals has 0.5 and 1.0 products as well.<br><Br> Skin can be very sensitive to retinol, so it’s best to start out with a small amount. Also, pregnant women should not use retinols.<br><br> Skinceuticals Retinol Cream, $67

Face Wash: Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Cream Cleanser

When it comes to face washing, Saedi said sometimes she thinks people wash their faces too many times a day. &amp;ldquo;There&amp;rsquo;s no set standard,&amp;rdquo; she said, &amp;ldquo;but I&amp;rsquo;d suggest a max of twice a day.&amp;rdquo; Saedi personally uses and recommends the Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit line.&amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&lt;br /&gt;Saedi likes this face wash because it has salicylic acid, which helps break up things that clog your pores. &amp;ldquo;I feel like the grapefruit kind of brightens your skin a bit,&amp;rdquo; she added.&amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&amp;lt;br&amp;gt; &lt;a href=&quot;https://www.neutrogena.com/skin/pink-grapefruit-acne-face-wash-and-cleanser-with-vitamin-c-and-salicylic-acid/6805365XX.html&quot;&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Cream Cleanser&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;strong&gt;, $9&lt;/strong&gt;
When it comes to face washing, Saedi said sometimes she thinks people wash their faces too many times a day. “There’s no set standard,” she said, “but I’d suggest a max of twice a day.” Saedi personally uses and recommends the Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit line.<br><br>
Saedi likes this face wash because it has salicylic acid, which helps break up things that clog your pores. “I feel like the grapefruit kind of brightens your skin a bit,” she added.<br><br> Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Cream Cleanser, $9

Face Wash: PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash

For people who are worried about bacteria on their skin or who get a lot of &lt;a href=&quot;https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/pustules-facts&quot;&gt;pustules&lt;/a&gt;, Saedi suggests using a benzoyl peroxide wash like PanOxyl. Pustules are those raised pimples filled with pus. &amp;lt;br&amp;gt;&amp;lt;br&amp;gt; &lt;a href=&quot;https://www.panoxyl.com/acne-products/acne-creamy-wash/&quot;&gt;&lt;strong&gt;PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;strong&gt;, $12&lt;/strong&gt;
For people who are worried about bacteria on their skin or who get a lot of pustules, Saedi suggests using a benzoyl peroxide wash like PanOxyl. Pustules are those raised pimples filled with pus. <br><br> PanOxyl Acne Creamy Wash, $12

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.