Everyone experiences some sort of stress every once in a while. But if you’re suffering from chronic stress, that can lead to problems you might not have realized.
Sure, stress can do a number on your general health. But did you know it can even affect your hair?
Here’s some information on why stress makes you sick, what it can do to your hair, and – most importantly – what you can do about it.
Stress and Your Health
You’re going to get stressed occasionally. It could be something that happens at home or at work that makes you anxious. You might even get stressed watching your favorite team play football. These are all natural reactions and shouldn’t cause any sort of major concern. Stress can actually be good for you in some circumstances. For instance, when you’re faced with a dangerous situation, this triggers a fight-or-flight response that could help you avoid harm.
Chronic stress, on the other hand, is a different beast.
If your fight-or-flight response is stuck in the “on” position, that can lead to serious health issues.
And the longer it lasts, the worse it will be for your overall health. It can even, for example, lead to severe fatigue and an inability to focus on the task at hand.1
Chronic stress can also make it hard to get over health problems. Research shows that people with heart problems who experience consistent stress are at a high risk of suffering a negative outcome.2
The Stress Hormone
There’s even a specific hormone, known as cortisol, that’s linked to stress. In fact, it’s known as the “stress hormone.” Cortisol makes it harder to learn and also weakens the immune system.3 When you’re immune system is weak, that can put you at risk for infections as well as heart, lung and nerve damage.4
So, How Does Stress Affect Your Hair?
Well, stress can actually damage your hair to the point where it might start to fall out. Here are the three main ways this can happen.
Alopecia areata – This occurs when the immune system attacks hair follicles and causes them to fall out. It is believed that severe stress is a contributing factor to this condition.5
Telogen effluvium – Telogen effluvium is another stress-related condition. It occurs when stress causes a large area of hair follicles to become dormant. Unlike alopecia areata, the follicles stay in place until they’re disturbed. When you brush or wash your hair, the follicles fall out.6
Trichotillomania – This condition is characterized by literally pulling the hair from the scalp as well as other areas of the body. It even includes the eyebrows. It can be a person’s way to deal with stress or other issues such as frustration or loneliness.7
What You Can Do About Stress
Now, there are several things that you can do in an effort to potentially reduce the damage that chronic stress can have on your health.
Get plenty of rest. Stress, according to one survey, keeps as much as 40 percent of adults awake at night.8 Improving your sleep could help reduce your stress. Performing yoga and relaxation exercises before bed could help ensure you get plenty of high-quality shut-eye.9
Pinpoint the cause of the problem.
What, exactly, is it that’s making you stressed?
Think about this during the day as you feel anxious. Write down your mood when stressful thoughts are going through your head. This will help you identify the issue and determine the best plan of action. You might need some help, for example, with your responsibilities at work or at home.10
Learn how to walk away from stress. Pull back and reconsider your actions. Work off some steam by getting in some physical exercise. This could be a full-blown workout or simply a brisk walk around the neighborhood.11
The Bottom Line
As you can see, it’s not normal to always be stressed. And it’s definitely not healthy. If you ever get to the point to where you feel like your stress is affecting your everyday quality of life, get help. A professional could help you put together an action plan to rid yourself of this problem for good.