For as long as I can remember, my father stressed about his slow, but steady loss of hair. As a kid I would sometimes watch him get ready in the morning and he would always try combing his hair different ways to try and cover even a little bit of his receding hair line. At the time, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal and I couldn’t figure out why such a small issue could put such a frown on his face. As an adult myself, and a relatively young one, I now find myself facing the same issue of hair loss head on.
It can be genetic, but there are also a number of other causes out there that can contribute to a balding scalp. In my endeavor to find the source of my hair loss, I learned that stress is a surprisingly common trigger. Ironically, the very act of stressing out about losing your hair, can contribute to it. Talk about a double edge sword!
How Does Stress Cause Hair Loss?
Stress is such a common cause of hair loss that there are actually medical names given to the condition. Doctors cite three main conditions when dealing with a thinning mane.
Telegen Effluvium is a condition that occurs when stress pushes a large number of hair follicles into a resting phase. After a couple of months one will notice large clumps of hair falling out while being washed or combed.
Alopecia Areata is a genetic condition where the immune system actually attacks and shuts down the body’s hair follicles. Severe stress is thought to be one of the triggers for this condition.
Trichotillomania is a type of hair pulling that occurs when a person pulls hair out as a reaction to stress in their life. Uncomfortable feelings or situations, anxiety and frustration are common triggers for someone with this condition. Often a person suffering from Trichotillomania may not even realize what they are doing and then be surprised to notice a distinct thinning of hair.
Before you start stressing about stressing, it’s important to realize that stress alone isn’t what causes hair loss.
Genetics will always be linked directly to hair loss, but it is looking more and more likely that while you may be predetermined to have less hair than your neighbor, there are ways you can keep from losing too much of it and to keep what you do have healthy and full. With that in mind, it’s important to eliminate as much unnecessary stress from your life as possible.
Leave it at work. Office tension? Big project coming up? Whatever is causing you stress at work, leave it behind when you walk out of the building. Give your time to separate yourself from your work life and focus on things that give you peace and satisfaction. Your body needs rest to restore life to your cells and less stress translates to better rest.
Lay the perfectionism to rest. No one is perfect, so don’t try to be. I’ve been a runner my whole life. As I got older my times were slowing and it was stressing me to the point of training twice as hard just to shave off seconds. When I went on my stress free diet, I left the Garmin at home and focused on running for enjoyment instead of time. Mentally I gained back a lot of confidence and freedom I had lost when I was glued to set times and goals.
Make sure your relationships are good ones. Weed out the ones that bring you down. Surround yourself by positive people that life you up instead of ones who harp on or nag you. Put people in your life who like you for who you are as a person (inside and out).
It’s Only Hair, But It’s MY Hair
While it may not be a disease like cancer or an acute heart condition, hair loss can be depressing because it dramatically affects our appearance. There are only so many places you can wear a baseball cap and who doesn’t want their girlfriend or wife to be able to run their hands through a thick head of hair? If you take your looks seriously and want to keep your scalp as full and healthy as possible, start by ditching the stress. If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, then it’s never too early to start and if it doesn’t entirely keep your hair in place, it certainly can’t hurt. Your body, and your hair follicles, will thank you!
Patrick Banksis a full-time motivational coach who is truly passionate about fitness and nutrition. He believes that balancing and satisfying the needs of your body and mind are the keys to happiness. He is the main contributor to Wingman Magazine.