And what to do about it
Have you felt the negative effects of extreme stress lately? You’re not alone.
No matter what triggers your stress, it’s bound to have an effect on your body. Feeling stressed is something everybody deals with in their life and is really a normal part of life under certain circumstances. What’s most important is knowing how to recognise, deal with it and knowing how to relieve it in order to have better mental and body health, including for one’s hair. Why is that really important? Stress can honestly kill you! Intense and prolonged stress can have very serious and damaging effects on our bodies. So, taking time for ourselves, practicing self-love and self-care are not luxuries but necessities! See our previous article on this here.
What is stress?
Stress is a biological reaction of your body on change, a challenge, or a situation that might be dangerous. Stress itself does not have to be bad. It is a reaction from your body to keep you safe and alert.
This is also known as the fight or flight syndrome, which can protect you from danger.
The way it is supposed to work is that your body reacts to the stress, that you ‘handle’ it and then you relax again. In those cases, stress is a very positive and useful thing for your body because it’s literally the thing saving you from real danger!
But when the stress you experience is an ongoing process or something that happens frequently and you can’t find the way to relax, the stress you experience is unhealthy. This can lead to a condition we call distress. Distress can lead to several physical and emotional reactions
It is important to know how your body reacts to stress so that you can take care of it. Knowing your body and knowing how to help yourself are important forms of self-love and self-care.
These are some general symptoms of stress:
- Tension in shoulder and neck muscles.
- Hair loss
- Upset stomach.
- Not being able to sleep.
- Anxiety and depression
Stress Stages of Hair
- There are three major stages of how stress affects our bodies. Number one and most common is when stress sends a number of hair follicles into a resting phase, stopping hair from growing. Months later, the hair that’s been attached to those follicles may start to fall out rapidly, more than usual.
- Number two would be when the the immune system turns on the hair follicle and causes hair to fall out in chunks. This one is called alopecia.
- The third and final stage would be when someone literally imposes hair loss onto themselves. This condition is very different from the two mentioned above, simply because its a compulsive way of pulling on your own hair, eyebrows and lashes. It is ones way of dealing with stress, boredom, anxiety etc.
5 ways stress may be affecting your hair
How to combat stress (more generally)
When you’re under a lot of stress, you may feel a complete lack of control. But there are things you can do to regain control over your life, your mental health and your hair health. In addition to seeking professional help whenever necessary, you can also make lifestyle changes to keep stress at bay.
Stress is a major factor in our body and it really does affect our hair. But (for obvious reasons) it’s never been more important to learn how to combat stress, self-soothe, and release tension from your body and mind. Luckily, the antidotes to stress are just as plentiful and wide-ranging as the causes… we just have to actually use them.
- Dancing (and listening to music)
- Warm baths
- Healthy eating habits (also see our blog post highlighting a few foods that help with hair health and growth)
- Balancing hormone levels (which can also be done with some of the above-mentioned remedies)
For mental and emotional relaxation
- Consider starting a gratitude journal to transform negative thoughts into positives,
- Practicing meditation,
- Taking a walk outside.
Breathwork and/or breathing techniques is an excellent coping both physical and emotional/mental relaxation. Deep breathing to restore your autonomic nervous system and cool your fight-or-flight response, as well as relieve tension in the body.
Try out a few techniques and always do what feels best for you. Whatever technique you land on, make sure to enjoy it. Having dedicated time to relax and recharge is one of the most productive things you can do—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.