Are you living with anxiety and looking for simple steps you can take to make it more manageable? I’d like to suggest one easy solution to some of your overwhelm that you might not have considered: creating and wearing a capsule wardrobe.
Guest Post: By Arlin Cunic (Peep her blog at the bottom of this post)
Now, I can hear your objections already! I can’t wear a capsule wardrobe, that sounds so restrictive. Won’t I have to go out and buy a whole new set of clothes (and won’t it be expensive)? How is changing what I wear going to have any effect on how I feel or my anxiety?
Believe me, I hear you and those were some of my thoughts too before I tried it for myself. But I can confidently say that there really is no downside to wearing a capsule wardrobe, and there can certainly be upsides if you live with anxiety.
To help convince you, I’ve come up with eight reasons why you should at least consider it if anxiety is a problem for you.
And yes, I know there are different types of anxiety. I write primarily about social anxiety on my blog, but regardless of what type of anxiety you experience, I believe this process can help you.
Less Morning Stress
How many mornings have you dreaded going to your closet, only to be met with a jumbled mess of clothing, never sure what you were going to wear or if you could find anything that matched?
From the time I started wearing a capsule wardrobe, my morning stress was greatly reduced.
Instead of spending precious time trying to decide what to wear, and more often than not regretting my choice for the rest of the day, now all I do is put on the outfit I planned the night before. And this is easy, because my clothing is intentionally chosen to be easily mixed and matched.
Less stress in the morning means less anxiety overall. Starting the day with a pre-planned outfit means one less thing to worry about.
If you choose your wardrobe intentionally, and perhaps even inject some fun or whimsy into it (I do this by signing up for capsule wardrobe style challenges), you’ll probably notice your confidence increasing as well.
This can be especially helpful if you live with social anxiety. While you should always dress for yourself rather than to please other people, receiving compliments about how you look can’t help but make you feel more confident overall.
And, when you feel more confident, your anxiety is naturally going to be lower.
Less Clutter More Calm
As you create your capsule wardrobe, you will also as a side effect be decluttering your wardrobe.
I experienced this when creating seasonal capsule wardrobes in the fall and winter. Why would I keep three black shirts instead of just the nicest one? Why do I need three pairs of dark wash jeans when only one pair really fits me well? In the long run, you actually end up spending less on clothes, because you buy with intention.
And, when you start to declutter your wardrobe, you’ll notice a sense of calm and control coming over you. Instead of avoiding your closet because it is a source of stress (and probably raising your anxiety), instead you might even look to your wardrobe as a source of peace and tranquility. It’s such an easy switch to make to feel calmer and less anxious.
Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
Not every capsule wardrobe has you step outside your comfort zone, but you can easily choose to do this, by adding in fun scarves, belts, or footwear that add some colors or patterns that you’re not used to.
What’s the benefit of this? Anxiety can cause us to live our lives smaller.
When something makes you anxious and you avoid it, you’ve tricked your brain into thinking that avoidance is the answer. You’re telling yourself that you need to “not do this” or “not do that” because it’s dangerous (and anxiety-provoking).
It’s counter-intuitive, but the only way to get to the other side of anxiety is to push back against that voice telling you not to do things. Yes of course, you need to distinguish between real danger and imagined threats.
But if wearing that leopard belt scares you a little, go do it! If putting on red shoes or a motorcycle jacket feels a bit outside your comfort zone, that’s a sign that you have a chance to push through your anxiety and learn.
Trust me, if you keep doing things that scare you, a little bit at a time, you’ll eventually get to the point that they seem mundane or silly. That’s when you know that you’ve made progress.
There’s so much to be said for intentional living if you are trying to manage anxiety. Instead of going through your day in “reaction mode,” how much better would you feel if you had a plan? And if you can start to feel better by making this one small change toward intentional living, why wouldn’t you do it.
Knowing You Have Enough (And Letting the Rest Go)
Sometimes, anxiety makes it hard for us to let go. You might have trouble letting go of relationships, of items that you own, of money, etc.
One thing that using a capsule wardrobe taught me is that when you intentionally choose your clothing, you can more easily let go of the things that aren’t serving you.
In the past, I would actually *feel bad* about letting go of my clothing. As though somehow, I had let down my clothing items because I wasn’t going to wear them anymore. That went away when I started using a capsule wardrobe, because I knew when I had enough. It’s a very calming feeling rather than an anxiety-provoking one.
Eliminate the Mental Burden of Choice
It’s no coincidence that some very successful famous people are known to have adopted a personal uniform. Albert Einstein is reported to have worn the same grey suit every day so that he didn’t waste brain power on clothing. Barack Obama only wears gray or blue suits to avoid decision making. Steve Jobs always wore a black mock turtleneck, blue jeans, and sneakers.
I’m not saying you have to go so far as wearing the same thing every day (in fact I think that’s far less common a habit among women), but using a capsule wardrobe absolutely reduces the mental burden of choice, freeing up your brain for other more important things.
And when your mind has less mental burden, you’ll be better able to manage your mental health and your anxiety.
Creating Good Habits
Finally, don’t underestimate the value of creating and adhering to good habits when it comes to your daily routine and managing your anxiety. While being mindful of your thoughts and your mindset is certainly important, it is your habits that you will fall back on when you are facing stress.
For example, if you go through a period in your life that is particularly stressful or causes you increased anxiety (such as a health scare, a daunting work project, or moving across the country), your habits are what will keep you balanced and calm. One easy habit to start with is by creating a capsule wardrobe.
Do you think a capsule wardrobe could help you to manage anxiety? Whether you are looking to decrease stress, boost confidence, declutter, get out of your comfort zone, live more intentionally, feel good about what you own, eliminate mental burden, or create good habits, a capsule wardrobe could be a simple way to feel more calm and in control.
Arlin Cuncic BIO
Arlin Cuncic is the founder of About Social Anxiety and the author of the Anxiety Workbook. She has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and has been writing about mental health online since 2007. She also has first-hand experience with performance anxiety and understands how freeing it can be to find strategies that work for managing anxiety. Her mission is to spread awareness about social anxiety and show people how to live their best lives.