Something I’ve noticed about myself in the past is that if I had a cold or illness and had to be somewhere–social function, work, school–I’d take extra care with styling my hair, applying my makeup, and selecting my clothing. It seemed really important on those days when I felt like staying at home in bed with a glass of orange juice, surrounded by tissues. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I was trying to make up for feeling terrible by being extra diligent with my appearance.
Now I use this tactic when I’m having a rough day emotionally. If I’m worried about something, if I’m dreading something, if the weather is grey and it’s seeping into my psyche–I know it’s important to make sure my appearance reflects how I wish I felt. Having my hair in an up-do or wearing my favorite necklace doesn’t change my circumstances and it doesn’t mean my mood does a complete 180, but I almost always experience a bump that’s good enough to get me through the day.
Here are 10 ways to use your appearance to improve your mood:
- Take some extra time with your hair. Do something you wouldn’t normally do–blow dry it with a round brush for volume, curl it, flat iron it, braid it, put it up, leave it down, use a bejeweled bobby pin, wrap a floral scarf around it.
- Bright lipstick. Color is such a powerful tool in manipulating mood. A bright lip also serves to make you look healthy, so if the cause of your distress is illness, you may be able to fake a few hours of health.
- Buy a luxurious body lotion and reserve its use for the days when you’re feeling bad. It can be one thing you look forward to on an otherwise gloomy day.
- If you know you’re going to have a bad day at work (a difficult meeting or conversation with someone, for instance), give yourself a pedicure the night before. Do the whole ritual–soaking your feet, trimming and filing your toe nails, pushing back the cuticles, choosing a pretty polish.
- Lip gloss. Sometimes I like wearing lip gloss simply because it doesn’t last more than an hour or two, so it requires me to reapply it. I love the ritual of applying makeup, and that seems to make me feel more prepared to face my day.
- Do an accent nail in your manicure (I like using the ring or pointer fingers). A hand-painted flower or a peacock feather water decal is whimsical and fun.
- Identify your favorite accessory (earrings, shoes, bag) and build your entire outfit around it. Sometimes just getting a glimpse of your feet in your favorite peep-toes can give you a moment’s joy.
- Get a spray tan. I’ve only gotten one in my whole life, right before a warm vacation, but I loved it. I instantly looked healthy and full of vigor. Clothing seemed to look better on me, my makeup looked better on me. I would recommend only going to an establishment recommended to you by someone you know. Also, err on the side of light color. Both of these tips will help you avoid an orange complexion.
- Shave your legs. Yes, even if no one will see them, it can be very satisfying to slip freshly shaven legs into a pair of pants.
- Along the same lines, wear fancy underwear. Lace, pretty patterns, bows, even a bit of bedazzling. You’ll know you look sassy under your clothing even though no one else will.
What things do you do to make yourself feel better?