Nowadays, many of us easily fall victim to stress. It could be due to a plethora of things, including school, work, family, relationships, and personal circumstances.
Sadly, stress could both be a possible cause and a consequence of thinning hair and hair loss. There are specific types of hair loss related to stress (not all hair loss conditions are due to stress!). And if you’ve got any kind of hair loss or even just thinning hair, it could also be equally stressful.
Learning how to manage stress is a must. It’ll keep all of us sane in a completely crazy world. And of course, it could help keep hair fall at bay too.
Our post for today looks into certain hair fall conditions directly caused by stress, and enumerate ways on how to effectively beat stress.
Stress-Related Hair Loss Conditions
There are three known types of hair loss conditions directly influenced by stress. These conditions pop out when stress levels are unusually high:
1. Alopecia areata
Alopecia areata is a hair loss condition that’s mainly autoimmune in nature. It happens when your immune system gets a bit messed up, attacking healthy hair follicles as it thinks they are foreign body invaders.
Stress can be a major triggering factor of alopecia areata. Your hair could fall out in round patches on or around the entire scalp. If you’re under a particularly high-stress situation, hair all over the body can also start falling out (alopecia universalis).
2. Telogen effluvium
This particular condition occurs when several hair follicles are prematurely pushed into the telogen or resting phase. Affected hair follicles are supposed to be staying in the anagen phase of the hair cycle, actively growing hair strands. The result is accelerated hair shedding that may persist for a few months at most.
Hair strands may suddenly fall out of your head even if you’re just combing or running your fingers through your tresses. Thinning hair from telogen effluvium is usually seen at the center of the scalp.
Several stressful situations may trigger a flare-up of telogen effluvium, including:
- Childbirth and the postpartum period
- Major trauma to the body
- Extreme weight loss
- Extreme dietary changes
- Sudden hormonal changes (such as in menopause or pregnancy)
- Severe fever, illness, or infection
- Major psychological stress
Your hair follicles return to normal and your lost hair is gradually replaced once the main stressor causing your telogen effluvium is eliminated.
This is a disorder characterized by an impulsive desire to pull out hairs on the scalp, eyebrows, or on other parts of the body. Hair pulling could be an intentional way to deal with stress, negative emotions, or uncomfortable feelings like frustration, loneliness, boredom, or tension.
Trichotillomania, also known as hair-pulling disorder, can be managed through a variety of mental health treatment modes such as habit reversal therapy, cognitive therapy, self-awareness training, and group therapies.
Tips on Managing Stress Successfully
As you can see, you could be predisposed to several hair loss conditions when you experience a continuous stream of stressful events in life. The key here is to help yourself manage stress successfully. Remember that proper stress management isn’t just for your hair’s sake; it’s also imperative to keep your entire body and mind healthy.
Here are some methods and activities that you can try to control your stress and keep you happy and calm through it all:
1. Immerse yourself in your hobbies.
Take a few moments out of your busy day to indulge in activities that you truly enjoy. Start an art project, tend your home garden, write a few poems or novel chapters, play a musical instrument – squeeze in a bit of time to indulge in whatever activity you truly love. Doing so takes your mind off the stress because you’re engaged in an activity that makes you feel happy.
2. Start your day with calmness.
Did you ever wake up with a stressful thought already plastered into your mind? That’s actually a recipe for an all-day stressful disaster. Why not set your mind in the right direction upon waking up by using breathing exercises, meditation, and positive affirmations?
Meditation and breathing exercises allow you to focus on the present moment and helps you tune out stress and anxiety. Reciting positive affirmations, on the other hand, gives you a boost and trains your mind to focus on the bright side of life.
All these activities can be done in a few minutes, right after you wake up. If you’ve got time to spare, you can also try techniques that combine meditation with exercise, such as tai chi and yoga.
3. Move it!
Exercise is a popular way to relieve stress and anxiety. Exercise releases feel-good hormones called endorphins, helping you alleviate stress and keep anxiety at bay. Engaging in regular exercise also serves as a positive physical distraction from the stress-inducing situation.
You don’t need to get a gym membership to work-out, and your routine doesn’t need to be rigorous as an athlete’s to count as exercise. Get moving by trying out these suggestions:
- Look up and follow exercise videos on YouTube
- Turn up the radio (or Spotify playlist, for that matter) and dance to your heart’s content
- Do simple household chores such as mopping the floor with upbeat music in the background
- Go for a jog or a light walk daily, preferably in the morning
- Work in your garden or do a bit of yard work
If you’re the sporty type but you’re losing motivation due to stress, try to set your mind on pursuing your sport at least once or twice a week during your free time. A little bit of movement and sport goes a long way!
4. Jot down your thoughts and feelings.
Journaling is indeed a good way to release your pent-up feelings and stressful emotions that you find hard to express in other ways. Simply grab a pen and notebook and jot down your feelings at the end of each day. Write down the things you think is causing your stress and anxiety, as well as how you truly feel about them.
Aside from releasing your feelings, journaling can also help you identify all the stress-triggering factors you may be experiencing. After that, you can plan around how to specifically cope with these stress-inducing situations or things.
5. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine.
Some people drink alcohol, smoke, or consume caffeine-rich drinks in an attempt to cope with stress. Ultimately, a night out at the bar or the coffee shop could do more harm to your stressed-out self than good.
Alcohol is formally classified as a depressant. This means that when you take large quantities of alcohol, it can slow down all your bodily functions. But it can also act as a stimulant when taken in small quantities, meaning that it can heighten your stress levels all the more.
Nicotine from cigarettes and caffeine from coffee are also classified as stimulants. They can make you feel more hyped up with stress instead of reducing it.
It’s best to avoid or reduce the intake of alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine-rich beverages. Swap them out for healthier alternatives such as water, herbal teas, and natural fruit juices.
6. Relax before sleeping.
Restful sleep is key to reducing stress levels, but stress can often interfere with it. You need to ensure that you’re relaxed and calm before going to sleep, and you can do so by trying out these techniques:
- Tweak your room and remove any reminders of stress.
- Remove your computers, phones, and other electronics and keep them out of the bedroom during bedtime.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeinated drinks before sleeping.
- Try a relaxing activity such as soaking in a warm bath or reading a feel-good calming book right before bedtime.
- If you can, keep your bedtime hours identical every day.
7. Rest if you’re feeling unwell.
Don’t push yourself to work or complete the things on your To-Do list if you’re physically unwell. Doing so only ups your stress levels. So, learn how to hit that pause button and rest well to help you recover. A bit of rest can do wonders to your overall physical and mental health (and to your tresses too, of course).
Stress wreaks havoc not just on your health, but on your tresses as well. Overwhelming stress can trigger a flare-up of hair loss conditions such as alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, and trichotillomania. If you’re currently having other hair loss issues, thinking about it can also cause too much stress on your body and mind.
There are various ways to combat stress and ultimately keep hair fall at bay. Simple self-care tips such as nourishing yourself with the right foods and taking enough rest can go a long way in beating stress. Exercise, journaling, hobbies, and relaxation techniques can also be extremely helpful in slowly banishing stress from your daily life.
Remember to complement these stress-busting tips with the right medication for hair loss as prescribed by your physician. You can also try natural remedies such as hair masks and essential oils.
Have you experienced stress-related hair loss? How did you cope with it? Let us know in the comments section below!