In our current society stress is an expected part of our everyday lives. We go about our days endlessly consumed by our worries, fears, work or academic pressures, sleep deprivation and relationships to name but a few of our life challenges. Research and studies show the severity of stress on one's health, and society has responded with a variety of remedies as yoga studios and meditation centers for example pop-up almost daily. Many companies have even instituted a lower-stress company culture with nap rooms and other beneficial perks. However, as we have become more aware of the dangers of stress and begun to openly discuss its causes and treatments, there is still one casualty of the dreaded "s" word that we don't talk about, namely our hair.
The effect of stress on our hair goes undiscussed due to the fact that many of us are completely unaware of the impact that stress has on our locks and looks. As blissfully unaware as we seem to be about the effect of stress on our hair, the truth is that our lives won't be so blissful when our hair begins thinning and we can't figure out why. High stress levels wreak havoc on the body and nothing responds faster than one's hair, skin and nails. Stress alone has been found to be directly correlated with three different types of hair loss: telogen effluvium, trichotillomania and alopecia areata.
Telogen effluvium is a condition in which a significant amount of stress (extreme weight loss or gain, surgery, emotional stress, etc.) causes large numbers of hair follicles to go into a resting phase and within a few short months the affected hairs may begin to fall out when you are simply brushing or washing your hair.
Trichotillomania is when a person feels a sudden urge to pull their hair from the scalp, eyebrows or other areas of the body in an attempt to cope with negative or uncomfortable feelings, such as stress and anxiety.
Lastly, alopecia areata is one of the more serious forms of hair loss. This is a condition in which the body's immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing hair loss. Alopecia areata is thought to be caused by a number of factors, one of those being stress.
As devastating as hair loss can be to one's psyche, we should all take comfort in knowing that stress related hair loss doesn't have to be permanent. There are things that can be done to reduce your level of stress and ultimately allow for hair regrowth.
- DO start a regular exercise program. Exercising for a minimum of 20 minutes per day reduces stress by increasing the production of endorphins in the body. Regular exercise is also a great way to increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.
- DO continue washing and brushing your hair. As you are suffering from hair loss due to stress, you might think that avoiding washing and brushing your hair is a good idea. This is 100 percent incorrect! When hair isn't washed, oil builds up and leads to thinning hair and hair loss, the best your hair looks, for most of us is when it is freshly washed and has the added bonus of feeling a bit better -- always a good idea. Regular brushing is good for thinning hair as it stimulates blood flow in the scalp and promotes hair growth.
- DON'T surround yourself with people who stress you out. If a person is consistently a source of stress in your life, try to limit the amount of time that you spend with that person or end the relationship completely -- this is preferable.
- DON'T be afraid to assert yourself. Dealing with your problems head on and doing your best to anticipate and prevent them will significantly reduce your stress levels, this means speak up!
- DO learn relaxation techniques. Learning how to relax in the wake of a stress triggers, through the use of techniques such as meditation, deep breathing or guided imagery, will help to bring your stress related hair loss to a screeching halt!
- DON'T forget to make time for yourself. It is important to be social with friends and family and not withdraw because of stress. Poor mental health will only increase your stress levels and accelerate hair loss.
- DO consider trying yoga. Yoga is a discipline that includes breath control and simple meditation, both of which are great remedies for relieving stress and encouraging relaxation.
Managing stress may not always be easy but it's a problem that has a solution, and if you want to keep your hair on your head and off of the floor, it's vital to take the necessary steps to relieve your stress. By adhering to some small lifestyle changes you will be making a big difference!