Stress. We all have some level of it. But it isn’t just an annoying byproduct of every day life. It actually has a profound effect on our health and the way we look. Under stress, we sleep poorly, don’t drink enough water, and our junk food cravings are through the roof! (Chips, ice cream and chocolate cake anyone?) All of these not so nourishing habits will eventually be seen in our skin and hair.
Stress interrupts our sleep patterns which are essential for skin and body repair. Not enough sleep weakens our immune system, causes our bodies chemicals to become out of whack and then leaves us with dull eyes and skin. No wonder we can look like how we feel when we are under a lot of stress!
Stress has negative effects on the skin that can show up as extreme dehydration, which leads to dullness, inflammation, and acne. Stress deprives our skin of essential nutrients and in turn causes inflammation which leads to breakouts. Not only can stress cause your face to breakout, but also causes the skin to dehydrate by tiny perforations in cell membranes forming which actually allow water to leak from our skin cells and create that dried out feeling. That’s when we really begin to notice fine lines and a blah skin tone. (Ugh! Stress you are stressing me out! Can you relate?) Stress hormones reek havoc by raising our pulse rates, increasing blood pressure, and also constricting blood vessels, which moves blood away from the skin towards other organs, (It’s that whole fight or flight thing our body thinks it is in, and tries to avert our resources to organs that need it to “run from the tiger”!) Our muscles become tense, our skin loses that nice rosy glow, and (gasp!) dreaded wrinkles begin to form.
There can be many reasons for hair loss. But for unexplained hair loss, stress is often a culprit. We know stress causes our blood vessels to constrict, and our hair follicles depend on them to get the oxygen and nourishment it needs to create and grow hair. When we are frazzled we burn more energy, (the tiger is chasing us so we need to stop growing hair, so we can run from the tiger thing— again.), our bodies redirect vitamins and essential nutrients to our survival organs, like the brain, heart and lungs, so our poor scalps miss out, thus causing hair loss. This loss can occur for up to 3 months after an especially stressful event, so if we are feeling like we are constantly in stress mode, it can be ongoing. The good news is that hair regrowth is likely in 6-9 months once we can find more calm in our bodies.
Our nails can show how much stress we are under too. Everything from becoming brittle and thin to experiencing ridges and peeling. (Taking a little time everyday to consciously let go of tension and relax our body and mind is starting to sound like more of a priority, right!?!) Much like our skin and hair, our nails don’t receive all the nutrients they need either when under a lot of stress. Add to that, anxious and nervous habits like nail biting, picking, and rubbing of the nail, which actually wears down the nail and damages the nail bed! Once we can calm our stress response, and truly nourish our bodies, we can begin to reverse a lot of this, heal our skin and nails, and even regrow lost hair.
So now that you know a little more about how stress can effect hair, skin and nails, you may ask, “Now what?’ What do I do? How do I create change to help revive my hair, skin and nails? The answer isn’t the same for everyone. The key is to find and begin to break your stress cycle. Nourish your body, mind and spirit in a variety of ways. Practice daily things that help YOU to relieve stress, take the pressure off, let go, adjust your mindset and thought process around things that feel stressful, take care of your body with good food, movement and sleep. Up your self care, and I don’t mean just getting a massage ( all though that IS a nice way to de stress), it is more about honoring when you need 5 minutes to yourself when you are beginning to feel frazzled, or if you need to go for a 10 min walk to ground yourself, talk with a good friend, writing in a gratitude journal, or take that yoga or meditation class you’ve been wanting to take, or letting the dishes stay in the sink so you can read a book for 30 minutes or take a bath, or maybe just sit in a quiet place breath and be for 5 minutes. It is rediscovering all the little things that nourish, recharge and bring you joy.
Feeling like it is impossible to break free from stress and its effects?
Would you like some support and guidance to improve stress levels and bring more balance into your life? Want help to improve the condition of your hair and scalp? Book a consultation with me and we can discuss the various ways I can support you with hair services and products, meditation and holistic health coaching!