Stress and Your Natural Hair

I can’t stress enough how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, if you want healthy natural hair. When I say healthy lifestyle, I mean this holistically….diet, exercise, emotional balance, and stress. YES, STRESS! In this “self-care” movement, I’ve seen many people just limit self-care to doing something nice for yourself. This could be anything from taking  a bubble bath to purchasing those knee-high boots from ALDO you’ve been eying.

Let me just say this…

If you are really wanting self-care to be beneficial, your care and attentiveness to yourself needs to run a lot deeper than surface, temporal and materialistic things. Meaning, if you don’t learn how to manage stress, then taking some time to relax, take yourself out, treat yourself, and take a bubble bath, will only partially solve your woes in that moment. Once you get over the excitement of buying something new, and doing something relaxing, then you have to get back to the ho-hum reality that drove you nuts in the first place.

Now, I am not saying self-care is a bad thing but what I am saying is, if you are going to take extra care and focus on yourself, let’s pay close attention to the things that matter and can really enhance your overall health and wellbeing.

Today I want to talk about stress. We all deal with it on some level but did you know, if you don’t learn how to manage stress, it can be damaging to your tresses? Yes ladies, stress can destroy a mane of beautiful curls and coils. I know this from experience.

When I came up with the tag-line “Live, learn + love your natural hair,” it was because I know there are lifestyle factors and a general learning/knowing your hair that contributes to the overall success of a healthy head of hair. Things like, getting the right nutrients flowing in your system, drinking enough water, going to sleep at night, hair styles that cause stress on the hair, and how you disposition your emotions.

When you don’t handle stress properly, you will notice that your once thick and flowy hair will begin to thin. This is called Telogen Effluvium. TE is caused when 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.*

I have experienced TE, first hand, at a time in my life when I experienced an unusual amount of stress. I was in my early 20’s. I had just given birth to my second child. I was single. I had to move back home with my parents. I lost my job. I lost my insurance that would’ve covered my recent childbirth. I didn’t have any money for food. I was on a waiting list for food stamps and medicaid. Neither of my children’s fathers were involved, so I was raising two babies alone by the age of 23. Both fathers were in and out of jail (I sure knew how to pick ’em *dramatic eye roll*). I couldn’t find a job. I couldn’t afford child care. I just wasn’t taking care of myself because I didn’t know how to process and or deal with my emotions. And….it didn’t stop there!

This may be nothing to some of you but for me, at the time, it was an insurmountable level of stress on stress on stress. I began to lose my hair in clumps. I ended up having to cut several inches off in order to start over. I have learned in my 30’s to take note of the warning signs. I start to notice the symptoms my body communicates with me when I am under a lot of stress. Knowing yourself will help you to stay on top of what is going on inside your body…like, what endorphins are being released, what nutrients are lacking, etc.

I can add a list here of what things you should pay attention to when dealing with stress but I won’t. I want you to get in the habit of becoming intimately acquainted with your emotions. Become aware of sleep lack, loss of appetite, excessive sensitivity, etc. These will help you to avoid experiencing excessive hair loss due to stress and not dispositioning your emotions properly.

This is the self-care I am talking about. Self-care is more than just feeling good in the moment, it’s about taking care of you, so that you can experience a healthy and overall good quality of life.

Live, learn + love your natural hair.