Stress. We’ve all been through it. Specially during times like these, where we have been forced to change and adapt to new ways of life. Ways that don’t necessarily make us feel comfortable. On April, the national Stress Awareness Month, we cover the subject of hair loss and stress. And how stress takes a toll on our emotional and physical health to the point where some of our normal bodily functions –like hair growth– become affected.
But hold on, before you keep reading we should warn you about something… It’s OK. These fearful and tense emotions you are feeling? They are normal. It’s your mind’s way of protecting you from “possible worse scenarios”. And it’s important you validate those feelings. Accepting and going through them is the first step to letting them go.
Because we at Hairatin –just like you– have experienced this, we want to share 5 mindful steps to go through stressful emotions –thus preventing possible stress-related shedding or thinning your hair might experience.
The hair growth cycle.
Before we share our scoop on how to cope with stress, let’s talk about hair loss and stress. What’s a normal hair growth cycle like? And how does stress actually affect it? There’s three main stages or phases of your hair growth cycle: the Anagen phase, the Catagen phase, and the Telogen phase.
The Anagen phase, or growth phase, is when your hair actively and vigorously grows from the root.
Next comes the Catagen phase, or transitional phase, is when your hair stops growing and the follicle begins to detach itself from the blood supply.
And finally the Telogen phase, or resting phase, is typically when old, detached hairs fall out so new hair can start growing.
Each of your hair follicles is independent and goes through these three phases at different times. But when your body’s stress hormone, cortisol, spikes up, it can force follicles to enter the shedding phase early. That’s when you start noticing gobs of hair in the shower, in your hair brush, or on your pillow.
Now if this is your case, and you’re worried about stress-related hair shedding, what can you do?
5 mindful steps to cope with stressful emotions…
Whenever a stressful emotion arises, we tend to distract ourselves and ignore it. We think that by evading it, it will just go away. And that’s where we are making a HUGE mistake. Whatever emotion it is, if you don’t allow yourself to truly feel it, it won’t go away. Instead, it will pile up inside and try to find a way out.
This is where it begins affecting your overall health. Your body will always try to find a way to get rid of the toxins it wasn’t allowed to get rid off at the time they first arose. So, next time a stressful or painful emotion shows up, try taking these 5 simple steps:
…Thinking. And just stop what you are doing. Stop trying to change or move to another emotion. Close your eyes and take some deep breathes, in and out.
Ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” and try to describe the feeling. Is it like a shock, a chill, a fire, a pressure… don’t judge! Just feel.
Now, this might seem dumb but trust us, it isn’t. Try naming that emotion. Have you felt that before? Do you feel like you can give it a name? Some common emotions are sadness, anger, disappointment, anxiety, fear, frustration, impatience, surprise, shame, exaltation, confusion. If you find it hard, look for “The Wheel of Emotions” and choose the one that best describes it.
Identify where in your body you feel that emotion the most. Is it a sensation most present in your head, stomach, chest, neck, back…?
The last and most important step. This is where you tell yourself that it is OK to have that emotion. It’s OK to feel. You’re human. You feel. And that’s perfectly normal. There is nothing wrong with you, or with you feeling this emotion.
And, why is it important to validate ourselves?
Seems fairly simple, right? And it is. But with these 5 simple steps you are allowing yourself to process and go through stressful emotions. You are validating yourself. You are also calming your nervous system. Cortisol levels decrease when you take the time to simply close your eyes and breathe. And that, my friend, makes a gigantic difference.
When we were young we were probably not taught to validate ourselves. Emotions that were seen as “negative” ones were not allowed. Feeling sad, angry or even crying was often perceived as “wrong” or “weak”.
And today, in our adult life, we continue to tell ourselves that these feelings are wrong. So we distract ourselves. With our phones. Or a funny meme. Or with tons of work. And when doing so, we immediately try to change the emotion to a positive one… without allowing ourselves to feel what needs to be felt!
Emotions that are not felt or allowed turn into stress. And stress, among others, causes high cortisol levels to affect whole bodily functions. Including hair growth. So, next time you feel that emotion rising… take 5. Allow yourself to feel. Remember, hair loss and stress may be your biggest problem today, but stress can take a much bigger toll on your health if left unwatched.