While the holidays certainly bring about feelings of nostalgia and celebration, this time of year can also cause some to experience hair loss as a result of stress. There are trees to decorate, lights to hang, perfect presents to select, dwindling finances, workplace deadlines, and unwanted opinions of visiting relatives to consider. Is there a reason to be stressed? You bet! While we can’t keep Uncle Al from talking politics around the fire, nor can we assist you with untangling the lights, we can provide some stress relief. Consider utilizing some of these stress relieving tips to protect your hair line and your sanity this holiday season.
If the holidays have you pulling your hair out, you may suffer from a medical condition known as Trichotillomania, a condition that causes a compulsive urge to pull hair from the scalp and eyebrows. No your children are not to blame for this condition, though it may certainly seem that way this time of year! Yoga offers mind to body practice that combines physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation or relaxation to help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and lower one’s heart rate—three factors key to protecting our hair’s health. In addition to stimulating blood flow and increasing oxygen to the blood stream, yoga reduces stressful triggers that may cause the reversible effects of Trichotillomania. Hatha Yoga, in particular, is designed to calm the mind and spirit. Generally, yoga is considered a safe practice for all body and health types, but it best to consult with a physician before beginning any physical activity.
Everything in Moderation!
Thinking back to when you were a child, you likely remember stressful moments eased by a loved one providing a special “treat.” Did you get a booboo or require a needle? Someone likely helped to soothe that stressful experience with a sweet lollipop! Did someone break your heart in high school? A loved one may have popped open a container of ice cream to console you. We have been conditioned since childhood to treat ourselves with sweet treats when we are stressed. While perfectly acceptable to enjoy as an occasional indulgence, these treats can result in nutritional deficiencies that negatively affect hair health. While it is certainly okay to indulge in a sweet treat or two in moderation, we must be careful to not turn to sweets every time we feel stressed. More importantly, we must remember to not skip meals all together. The office breakroom is likely filled with delicious goodies this time of year. Looming deadlines and end of year quotas may have you reaching for an extra donut or two and skipping meals. Try to resist the urge, or limit your indulging to just once per week! These treats, while they may offer a temporary relief, ultimately lead to a negative effect of your hair and waist line and can cause your body to not absorb nutrients vital to our hair’s health. Consider adding a multivitamin, especially during stressful months, to your morning routine (we recommend LOCKrx Hair Support System) to help combat holiday induced hair specific deficiencies in your diet that may also affect hair health.
Alopecia Areata is a reversible condition related to severe stress that causes the body’s immune system to attack the hair follicles. Whole body massage helps to decrease stress levels, reduce inflammation, and is known to boost the immune system. Massage may help reduce the negative stress induced effect of alopecia areata, a reversible condition of the scalp. Short on time? If you’re due for a cut or color anytime soon, consider tipping your shampoo person a little extra in exchange for a scalp massage and giving yourself an extra few minutes of “me” time. Scalp massage is more than just relaxing–The skin’s outermost layer consists of the stratum corneum, which helps to protect us from external environmental factors like bacteria and UV damage. The stratum corneum of our scalp goes through a renewal process every several weeks, and scalp massage has an added benefit of stimulating blood circulation that helps with hair growth, increasing circulation, and allowing for more nutrients to travel to the hair root.
Our hair goes through three phases: Anagen (growth), Catagen (transition phase), and Telogen (resting phases). Stress can disturb these phases, which ultimately leads to thinning and hair loss. One reversible condition, Telogen Effluvium, causes hair follicles to prematurely go from the active phase (anagen) into a resting phase (Telogen). This effect, while reversible, causes significant hair loss during stressful periods and can last months after. Those who have had surgery, experienced child birth, or suffer a serious illness are most likely to suffer. One practice known to help individuals relax and decompress is through sensory deprivation float rooms. Scientific research points to float therapy as a possible cure to mental and physical stress. In addition to reducing inflammation in the body, floating in magnesium filled bath chambers may help to lower our blood pressure and clarify our hair and skin. These bath chambers are filled with thousands of pounds of Epsom salt, an inorganic chemical compound used for generations to help with digestive function, improve magnesium deficiencies, and provide relief from chronic arthritic conditions. Epsom Salt has an added benefit of adding volume to hair, giving it a thicker appearance. Additionally, the salts help to reduce build up from products known to clog pores in our scalp. The stress reducing benefits of a 60-90 minute session may last a week or more. Note: Floating is not recommended for two weeks after chemical processing. Further, those with chemically processed hair should use a protein infused deep conditioner after floating to help protect their locks.
Martin Luther King once wrote that “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” It may sound counter intuitive to add more to your calendar when you’re already racing time, but studies have proven that giving back by volunteering your time helps to reduce holiday depression and has a positive effect on mental and physical health. This effect, in turn, helps to promote a healthy hairline. Volunteering helps us to feel connected to something greater than ourselves. The effects of volunteering can help to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and provides us with a sense of purpose. A dose of perspective may just be what you need this holiday season to boost your mental health and protect your hairline. Consider carving an hour of your time out to give back to others. Your scalp may thank you.
This time of year should be a time of reflection and a time of joy and giving. For some, however, it can bring about stress, depression, and anxiety. If you find yourself increasingly stressed during the holiday season, consider these five methods to help reduce your stress to protect your well-being and your hair health. It’s important to note that while these methods may work to reduce stress levels, you should consult a medical provider if you believe you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned in this article or believe you suffer from anxiety or depression. Happy Holidays. Remember to breathe!