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Geisinger becomes the first member of Risant Health

Using color, texture and more can help improve your mood.

Our clothes play a big part in how we express ourselves. They’re an extension of our personality — so doesn’t it make sense that we can influence our mindset by the way we dress?

“Like setting out your workout clothes the night before so you actually work out the next morning, dressing in clothing that makes you happy can influence your mindset for the day,” says Katie Dumm, senior health services specialist at Geisinger Health Plan.

That's the theory behind “dopamine dressing.” The idea here is that you can improve your mood by wearing colorful colors and patterns. But it doesn’t have to rely only on bright colors — it’s about wearing what makes you feel happy. Makes you feel good

Does it work? Let’s dive in.

The psychology of color

We can use colors in our daily lives to influence how we act. Did you know that painting your kitchen yellow or red can make you eat more? Or that muted hues on your bedroom walls can help you sleep? 

While the feeling a color evokes varies from one person to another, there are some general categories that hold true for everyone. For example, we typically break colors into warm and cool categories.

Warm colors, like red and orange, can bring about warm and fiery emotions. On the other hand, cool colors, like blue and green, can cause calm or even sad emotions.

“Because color often affects people differently based on their background and memories, pay attention to how certain colors make you feel,” says Dumm. 

Just remember that the “meaning” of colors is subjective. While some link red with passion, you may have a particular memory or cultural influence that associates red with another feeling or meaning. 

“Apply what you learn about your reactions to colors to everything from how you paint the rooms in your house to how you dress for certain occasions,” Dumm says. 

Ready to try your hand at dopamine dressing? Remember that it’s all about your personal feelings, which sets this trend apart from the structure fashion trends have followed in the past.

How to dress mindfully

Do you have a “lucky outfit” or “presentation blazer?” Well, there’s something there that holds truth and applies to this trend — your clothes can influence your mood. If you really believe you’ll have better luck in a certain pair of pants, it might be that they make you feel happy and more confident. And that can lead to the outcome you want.

Dopamine dressing embraces this concept, but it’s not just about the colors and patterns — it’s about the material, too.

“Even if you’re working from home, putting some effort into how you dress can make all the difference as you go through your workday,” says Dumm. “Try dressing in colors that energize you when you have deadlines coming up, for example.”

You can also use this trend as an opportunity to try new outfits and styles. If you’re not ready to join a video conference call in a new style of clothing, you can still give it a whirl from the comfort of your home on a day where you have fewer on-camera meetings. 

“See if a new style boosts your confidence throughout the day,” says Dumm. “No one else needs to see it, but you can learn more about your personal style, all while reaping the mental health benefits of trying something new.”

Some say this trend was born out of the pandemic. With many people working from home (and often in their pajamas), we needed a way to dress that was as flexible as our work environments. But wherever it came from, the idea of wearing what makes you feel your best is appealing. So, why not give it a try? 

Next steps:

8 telltale symptoms of burnout — and what to do about it
Discover the power of positive affirmations
Feeling SAD? Explore treatments for seasonal affective disorder

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