Everyone has different ways to deal with stress, unfortunately sometimes dealing with stress seems to lead to more stress. As we approach National Stress Awareness month, we wanted to share some helpful lifestyle adjustments that can help prevent future stress, specifically as it relates to your hair.
Studies show significant stress pushes large numbers of hair follicles into a resting phase. Within a few months, affected hairs might fall out suddenly when simply combing or washing your hair.
The good news? Sleeping more could significantly reduce stress and help grow your best hair. Sleep is a powerful stress reducer. Following a regular sleep routine can help calm and restore the body, improving concentration, regulating your mood, and sharpen judgment and decision-making. You are a better problem solver and are better able to cope with stress when you're well-rested.
Every body is different, so it's hard to prescribe a specific universal routine for better sleeping, but some things that might help include:
- Keep a consistent sleep routine, including something relaxing like a bath, meditation or deep breathing, or listening to calming music
- Try to go to bed around the same time every night and while the amount of sleep your body needs may vary, try to get at least 7 hours of sleep
- Try to avoid looking at your computer, phone or a TV screen for an hour before you go to bed and try keeping your cell phone in another room so you aren’t tempted to check your email in the middle of the night
- Do your research on some sleep supplements like L-tryptophan (yes, the stuff in turkey) or magnesium to help aid your sleep if you find it elusive
Even the thought of exercise can be stressful as it takes time and energy, but over time the body will start to crave the activity. Exercise reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators. The Mayo Clinic recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of both. Greater amounts of exercise will provide even greater health benefits; but even small amounts of physical activity are helpful.
Here are some suggestions for easy ways to incorporate exercise:
- Go for a walk outside. You don’t need to run a marathon, which feels very daunting to most of us. You can start with a 15 minute walk and work your way up to 30, 45 or 60 minutes
- Do something fun like dancing or playing tag with your kids, which can sometimes not even feel like exercise
- Check out YouTube for great free exercise classes. We love Heather Robertson for strength training.
If you have already exercised and are well rested, you can add the below ingredients to your diet to help reduce additional stress. Adding these three ingredients to a whole food diet can help the body function better and boost your mood:
- Turmeric contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. It boosts protein in the brain that is important in memory and learning, says Dr. Hashmi. It also may help reduce symptoms of depression. For the best result cook with the actual root and be sure to add black pepper-it helps the body absorb the turmeric!
- Ginger can be helpful with digestion, but it also may help with brain function. This improvement can help memory, recognition and reaction time. Stress can kill brain cells and even reduce the size of the brain. Chronic stress has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
- Flax seed is very rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which are known to help maintain healthy and optimal serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is responsible for nervous communication and recognition of emotional responses. Another property of flaxseed oil is an amino acid called tryptophan, which is also a serotonin stabilizer and helps relieve stress.
To learn more about how stress relates to greying hair, read our previous post which contains some fascinating scientific evidence about how stress reduction can lead to re-pigmentation.