We’ve all experienced stress. Work deadlines, mounting to-do lists, running kids from school to sports…We even know that some stress is good for you. But then there’s chronic stress. A prolonged state that can be caused by divorce, a death, illness or perhaps a worldwide pandemic. Such unfortunate events can lead to depression, insomnia, appetite changes and even hair loss.
The most common type of hair loss caused by chronic stress is Telogen Effluvium; excess shedding or thinning of hair. It is normal to shed 50 to 100 strands of hair a day, but that number can significantly increase when the body experiences extreme stress. Basically, what is happening is your body realizes that normal functioning isn’t possible in this state so it goes into survival mode; putting all its energy into keeping vital organs alive. Because hair growth isn’t essential to survival, the follicles will prematurely and potentially indefinitely enter the resting (Telogen) phase in which case the hair in those follicles will shed. This takes time however, so the sudden onset of hair loss may not occur until about three months after the increased stress began.
Little is known for sure what exactly causes hair loss from stress but studies show that stress hormones such as cortisol and inflammation due to a constant state of fight-or-flight is to blame. That in addition to inadequate sleep, poor nutrition and diminished mental/emotional health is a recipe for disaster. The bad news is that this type of hair loss can be permanent if the chronic stress persists and isn’t addressed. The good news is that with simple lifestyle changes and guidance from a medical professional, hair loss can be reversed; oftentimes within a matter of months.
1. Seek Help
Therapy, meditation, journaling and gratitude exercises are all great ways to relieve stress. Find a therapist who specializes in your area of need. Meditation cards and guided apps make trying meditation easy and accessible. Journaling, whether it be stream of consciousness or guided, can be extremely cathartic. Practicing gratitude has been shown to increase happiness; set a daily reminder or try a gratitude journal or app.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is undoubtedly beneficial for each and every one of us but if you’re experiencing hair loss, focusing on adding lean proteins to your diet can be especially beneficial for hair growth. Hair is primarily made up of the protein Keratin, so foods high in protein such as turkey, chicken, beans and legumes, salmon, greek yogurt, eggs and quinoa are all great sources to add to your weekly meals.
Moving your body is incredibly helpful when it comes to overall physical and mental health. Exercise relieves stress due to the release of endorphins, improves circulation, helps deliver oxygen and nutrients, and increases energy. There can be a lot of expectations and judgment surrounding exercise however, so go easy on yourself. Shoot for a daily 20-30 minute walk to start and focus on being present. You may be surprised to find what noticing the cool breeze and tuning into the sound of birdsong can do for the psyche.
Getting enough sleep is imperative for overall health, especially when experiencing chronic stress. Lack of adequate sleep can lead to depression, obesity, high blood pressure, brain fog and even hair loss. Shoot for at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night and make it a habit. Treat yourself to a nightly beauty routine, luxurious bedding and a cool, dark environment for the best Zzzs.
5. Take Care of Your Hair
Get your hair trimmed regularly and avoid any chemical treatments that could further damage your hair. Avoid heat styling and blow drying on “high”. Switch to a shampoo and conditioner that focuses on scalp health. Add a hair supplement to your daily routine, such as our Growth Complex for overall hair health and improved growth. And while relatively new to the market, laser therapy is proving promising for hair regrowth when used in conjunction with the aforementioned practices.
Stressful situations await around every corner so it is imperative to take the necessary steps to care for your mind and body. And while worrying about hair loss may feel vain, it’s in fact the opposite; your body is crying out for help. Taking time to tend to your mental and physical well-being must become a top priority, even if putting yourself first sometimes feels selfish. When in fact, you are nourishing your body and soul so that you can continue caring for those you love and being the boss lady you are.