A few years ago, during a particularly challenging time in my career, I decided I needed a way to find some joy in my work again. I dreaded going to work. My positive attitude tricks were failing. I knew I needed to break out the big guns to win this battle of workplace blues.
Suddenly, inspiration hit. Fashion has always been one of my favorite art forms. I’ve always liked putting outfits together. I enjoy mixing eras, patterns, and textures, and finding new ways to wear old pieces. I had an idea of how I could combine two of my favorite things—fashion and pharmacy—to make me happy again. That’s how TutuTuesday was born.
Every Tuesday, I would wear a Tutu to work. It wasn’t like I showed up with a pastel pink tutu, tights, and ballet slippers. My tutu would be age-appropriate, a dark color, and be properly styled to look professional and presentable under a lab coat. Ex: a tailored blazer over the tutu or a belt and a cardigan to balance out the fun and frivolity with more traditional pieces.
I couldn’t change the coat, but I had a little fun with what I wore underneath it.
TutuTuesday was a surprise hit. Both coworkers and customers loved it. We all looked forward to seeing what tutu-based outfit I would come up with each week.
This fun little game with fashion lasted six months and helped me avoid burnout. TutuTuesday reminded me to not take myself too seriously and gave me a new perspective on my problem. It also was a bit outside my comfort zone, which made me feel more alive and helped me want to solve my problem. TutuTuesday reminded me that I’m an individual and that with a little inspiration and imagination, I may be able to find a way out of my rut. It was empowering.
You may not be able or willing to wear a tutu on Tuesdays, but you can still be inspired by the idea and apply some lessons to your struggles.
- You are an individual. Don’t let the healthcare system put you in a box when it comes to your care. It seems that everyone gets the same treatments, procedures, and pills. If you’re thinking of trying a new approach, for example, equine-assisted therapy for PTSD, then do some research and be brave enough to discuss with your healthcare provider. It’s ok to combine traditional medicine and alternative medicine if done sensibly. Just because it appears two things don’t go together, doesn’t mean they can’t. If a combination of music therapy, mediation, and prescription medication works for you, then that’s what matters. Discuss all treatments with your primary healthcare provider.
- Sometimes the answers are found outside your comfort zone. If you’re feeling stuck in any area of your life and want to feel alive again, you’re going to have to do something different. It doesn’t have to mean taking a big risk, like trying sky-diving, but if that’s something you’ve always wanted to try, then, by all means, go ahead. One day a week, stop and ask yourself what you could change about how you live that will make you healthier. How can you be a little bit closer to wellness? Is it getting more sleep? Do you want to cut out processed food? Would taking a walk in the woods once a week be helpful?
- A little dose of rebellion is just what the doctor ordered. Sometimes you have to break from the pack. This is especially true when it comes to your mental health. We are each unique. What works for your friend or even what works for a million people, may not work for you. Be honest with yourself and your healthcare provider, if something isn’t working. Tell your prescriber if you’re having side effects to your medication. Tell her even if you think she’ll be mad at you. Find another therapist if you don’t like the one you’re currently seeing. He won’t take it personally. He’s doing this job to help people get well, not make friends.
- Sometimes a little levity is the best medicine. Anxiety and depression are serious problems. Humor can be a way to prevent yourself from sinking into the abyss. You are not your disease. Rather, you are separate from it. You take your disease state seriously and dedicate time, money, and energy to getting well. You can’t take yourself too seriously all the time. It’s exhausting. Set aside some time and energy each week to just have fun. The chemical changes in your brain are the right medicine at the right dose as they’re dispensed by your inner pharmacy.
Express yourself. Wear something different. Try something different. But, most importantly, approach the boring stuff and the fun stuff with the attitude of a little kid going to her first ballet class. Show up fearless, and be open to new possibilities. Understand that you don’t have to have it all figured out: the magic happens in the unknown. What’s something new you can try today?