By: Verity Reign
Stress is inevitable. There’s no way around it, but there is a way to manage it. It’s important to manage stress because outside of making us all down and a nuisance to be around, it causes a number of physical and mental setbacks. One of these is hair loss. According to Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.—a psychiatrist at Mayo Clinic—there are several types of hair loss related to stress.
“Three types of hair loss that can be associated with high stress levels are:
- Alopecia areata. A variety of factors are thought to cause alopecia areata, possibly including severe stress. With alopecia areata, white blood cells attack the hair follicle, stopping hair growth and making hair fall out.
- Telogen effluvium. In this condition, emotional or physical stress pushes large numbers of growing hairs into a resting phase. Within a few months, the affected hairs may fall out suddenly when simply combing or washing your hair.
- Trichotillomania. Trichotillomania (trik-oh-til-oh-MAY-nee-uh) is an irresistible urge to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body. Hair pulling can be a way of dealing with negative or uncomfortable feelings, such as stress, anxiety, tension, loneliness, fatigue or frustration.”
Yoga Journal considers the three Ayurvedic doshas (vata, pitta and kapha) and identifies foods for each that can help to reduce stress and bring things, including your hair growth, back to balance. (Go here to discover your dosha and get more information).
Foods to Fight Stress: Warming foods like rice, wheat, nuts, and milk products; avoid raw food like salads and dry, airy foods like popcorn
Healing Herbs and Scents: Ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom
Foods to Fight Stress: Cooling foods like cucumbers, melons, and dates; avoid spicy and astringent foods, like chili peppers, radishes, tomatoes, cranberries, and grapefruits
Healings Herbs and Scents: Jasmine, lavender, and rose
Foods to Fight Stress: Artichokes, eggplant, broccoli, cherries, cranberries, and pears; avoid sweets and nuts; carefully monitor quantity of food
Healing Herbs and Scents: Rosemary and frankincense
There are also some practices that don’t require medication you can adopt into your everyday life to reduce stress.
- Meditation: Because Ayurveda takes such a holistic approach in healing, meditation is a great way to relieve stress. The spiritual practice “can boost attentiveness and improve mood while lowering stress in less than a week,” according to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, as reported on Oprah.com.
- Massages: Giving yourself a massage has great physical benefits, like improved circulation, but it also loosens tension and helps deteriorate stress. Some good oils to use are almond oil (for Vata), coconut oil (for Pitta) and sesame oil (for Kapha). There are also special ayruvedic oils sold for each dosha.
- Playing with your pet: It sounds a bit odd, but spending a little quality time with your dog or cat can help reduce stress levels. "Among other things, animals contribute to raising self-esteem, significantly lowering anxiety levels, improving attitude toward others and opening lines of communication," according to K.C. Cole, RN, MN, director of UCLA’s People Animal Connection.
Living a healthy physical, mental/emotional and spiritual life is crucial in your holistic health. When our balance is off, it shows up in everything, including our hair. If you’ve experienced hair loss or other abnormal concerns, like excessive dryness, that imbalance could quite possibly be brought on by unmanaged stress. Try these techniques to conquer the stressors in your life, and if you have any other stress-manage methods, please share!