Hair loss, a concern that affects millions globally, often leaves individuals feeling self-conscious and anxious. While genetics and aging are common culprits, an often overlooked factor is chronic stress. The constant hustle and bustle of modern life can escalate our stress levels, disrupting the natural hair growth cycle and leading to thinning hair or even alopecia.

While conventional treatments often involve medications and topical solutions, emerging research suggests a potent link between the mind and body’s health. This link points to the potential of mindfulness, a mental state of active, open attention on the present, in combating stress-induced hair loss.

Understanding Stress-Induced Hair Loss

Our hair follows a precise growth cycle, including the anagen (growth), catagen (transition), and telogen (resting) phase. Severe or chronic stress can disturb this cycle, pushing more hairs into the telogen phase prematurely. This condition is known as telogen effluvium, leading to noticeable hair loss.

Moreover, stress can worsen conditions like alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that attacks hair follicles, and trichotillomania, a psychological condition where individuals feel compelled to pull out their hair. Clearly, stress management plays an integral role not just in our overall wellbeing but specifically in maintaining a healthy mane.

The Power Of Mindfulness

Mindfulness, a practice rooted in ancient meditation, has found its place in contemporary psychology. It involves focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. A growing body of research has demonstrated the positive impact of mindfulness on stress reduction, making it a potential tool for managing stress-induced hair loss.

Mindfulness Techniques For Stress Management

Several mindfulness techniques can help reduce stress levels and potentially improve hair health. Each technique serves as a tool to bring your mind back to the present, away from the worries of the past or the uncertainties of the future.

1. Mindful Breathing

At the heart of mindfulness is mindful breathing. This technique involves focusing on your breath, observing each inhalation and exhalation without judgment. When your mind wanders, as it inevitably will, gently guide it back to your breath. Concentrating on each breath helps create a sense of calm and presence, reducing stress and promoting mental clarity.

2. Body Scan Meditation

Body scan meditation is a powerful mindfulness exercise that fosters a deeper mind-body connection. It involves mentally scanning your body from head to toe, noting any sensations, tensions, or discomfort. This heightened awareness not only helps to identify areas of physical stress but also promotes relaxation and stress relief.

3. Mindful Eating

In an age of constant distractions, we often eat in a hurry, not fully appreciating the food we consume. Mindful eating involves savoring each bite, paying attention to the food’s texture, taste, and aroma. This mindful practice encourages a healthier relationship with food, crucial for hair health since nutrition plays a significant role in hair growth and quality.

4. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

MBSR is a structured program that marries mindfulness meditation and yoga. Developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, this program has undergone extensive study and shown to be effective in reducing stress and anxiety. This eight-week program can provide a structured approach to cultivating mindfulness and mitigating stress-related hair loss.

5. Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving-kindness meditation, also known as Metta meditation, involves focusing on developing feelings of goodwill, kindness, and warmth towards oneself and others. This practice can

help alleviate personal stress and anxiety, as it cultivates a sense of compassion, understanding, and interconnectedness with those around us.

Incorporating Mindfulness Into Your Routine

Establishing a mindfulness practice might seem challenging, especially if you’re new to the concept. However, it’s more accessible than you might think. Start with short sessions of 5 to 10 minutes per day, gradually increasing the duration as you become more at ease with the practice.

Over time, mindfulness can become a natural part of your life, much like brushing your teeth. You may find yourself engaging in mini-mindfulness sessions throughout the day, taking moments to focus on your breath or notice the sensations in your body.

In addition to mindfulness, consider integrating other healthy habits into your lifestyle, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep. These habits complement mindfulness practice, collectively working to reduce stress levels and promote overall well-being.

If you ever feel overwhelmed by stress or notice significant hair loss, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Remember, hair loss due to stress is usually temporary, and as stress levels decrease, your hair growth cycle should return to normal. If you’re interested in understanding the timeline for hair regrowth, click here to learn more about how long it takes for hair to grow back.

Conclusion: Mindfulness As A Tool For Hair Health

In conclusion, stress-induced hair loss might seem inescapable in our fast-paced world, but there’s a solution within our grasp: mindfulness. With its proven stress-reducing benefits, mindfulness could be a natural, non-invasive, and effective technique for managing hair loss.

Adopting mindfulness techniques not only promises potential improvements in hair health but also contributes to overall physical and mental wellbeing. Embrace mindfulness as a way of life – a journey of self-discovery, acceptance, and tranquility that can help you manage stress and potentially restore not just the health of your hair but your holistic wellness.

Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Take that first step towards mindfulness today and start reaping the benefits for your hair and your overall health.

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The idea of stress-induced acne makes complete sense to some people, and not so much to others.

For years, scientists didn’t think that stress-induced acne was a real thing. They pointed instead to changes in the skin that cause acne such as inflammation, bacteria, and the like.

Now we know, however, that there is a strong brain-skin connection, and that our thoughts and feelings can have a big impact on the health of our skin. (See our post, “What You Need to Know About Mental Health and Skin.”)

So how do you know whether today’s breakup was caused by yesterday’s stress, or by something else entirely?

Stress-Induced Acne is Just One Type of Acne

We do have evidence that stress can cause acne. In a 2017 study of nearly 150 women, for example, scientists found that increased stress was strongly correlated with greater acne severity.

In an earlier study of students with acne, researchers again found a strong correlation between stress levels and the severity of acne, and in a third study, they found the same thing—patients with acne experienced a worsening of the acne during stressful periods.

As to why this happens, scientists are looking into it. They thought that stress increased the production of skin oils, but studies on that have been mixed. Another possibility—stress can trigger nerve signaling in the skin that causes itch, causing people to scratch and pick at their skin. This introduces bacteria into the pores, which can lead to acne breakouts.

Scientists also know that chronic stress depresses the immune system. That means the skin will take longer to heal, and acne breakouts may stick around longer.

There’s more to it, though, including that brain-skin connection and the fact that the skin has its own immune system.

How Stress-Induced Acne Works

When you feel stressed, the body releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into your body. Cortisol is known to increase oil production in your skin glands, which we know can increase the risk of clogged pores and breakouts.

Stress also triggers a response from the immune system. When cortisol is released, it encourages the release of pro-inflammatory cells in the skin itself. This is because the skin contains immune cells that help fight off infections and protect you from pathogens. (Read our post, “Why the Immune System In Your Skin Needs Your Help.”)

When everything is well and you’re feeling strong and healthy, the immune system in the skin is strong and protective. It helps keep you safe from infections and diseases, including skin cancer.

But when you’re stressed—particularly if you’re chronically stressed—things can go wrong. The skin’s immune system, in response to stress hormones, releases inflammatory cells, and we already know that inflammation plays a large role in acne.

In a 2013 review, scientists gathered evidence showing that acne “is primarily an inflammatory disease…” Harvard Health agrees, stating that acne is “caused by inflammation in the pilosebaceous unit, the place that harbors the hair follicle and the sebaceous [oil] gland.”

Scientists used to think that inflammation was a secondary factor in acne, but in some circles, that’s changing. In a 2013 study, for instance, researchers noted that though inflammation has long been recognized as important in acne, “until recently it was considered a secondary event.”

They go on to state that more recent studies have demonstrated “a central role for inflammation in the development of acne lesions,” which we can interpret to mean that stress, too, may have a more central role.

Stress-Induced Acne Isn’t the Only Kind

Despite all the evidence showing that stress can, at the very least, make acne worse, it’s not the only thing that can lead to a breakout.

Acne can be related to other factors as well, including:

  • Diet—We have evidence that a diet high in fast foods can exacerbate inflammation and lead to more acne breakouts. There are also studies linking the intake of dairy foods with acne in people sensitive to dairy.
  • Hormones—There’s a reason why adolescents, women going through their menstrual period, and women going through menopause are more likely to struggle with acne. That reason is hormones. Scientists know that hormonal changes can trigger an increase in acne breakouts.
  • Skin care products—Some skin care products can clog pores, increasing the risk of acne.
  • Medications—Some medications like steroids, lithium, and some drugs used to treat epilepsy may have acne as a side effect.
  • Masks, headbands, and more—Regularly wearing items that put pressure on the skin while potentially exposing it to more bacteria can cause breakouts.

How to Tell if It’s Stress-Induced Acne

Below are five ways to tell whether your acne is related to stress or something else.

Rescue & Relief Acne1. The Timing

When did you break out? Think back. If you just experienced a really stressful event—or if you’ve been stressed for a while—your acne is likely to be connected to that stress.

Action step: Practice regular stress relief. Exercise every day, journal, meditate, go for a walk, spend time with a good friend, and engage in other activities that help your stress melt away. If the stress is likely to continue, ask your doctor about taking a stress-relieving supplement like ashwagandha, L-theanine, magnesium, Rhodiola, and lemon balm.

For your skin: Every day, spritz on some of our Rescue + Relief Spray. It has key inflammation-reducing ingredients like turmeric and valerian, along with natural moisturizers that will help your skin cope with the stress, but it won’t clog your pores.

2. The Location

Where are your pimples showing up? This may also give you a clue into what’s causing them. If you regularly suffer from breakouts around your chin during your menstrual period, for example, your acne is more likely hormone-related.

Stress acne, on the other hand, is most likely to show up in the oiliest areas of your skin—typically, the T-zone.

Action step: Take steps to reduce your stress and reduce the excess oil in your T-zone. Use a cleanser that is made for oily skin—a foam or gel cleanser is best. If your cheeks are usually dry, use the oily skin cleanser only in the T-zone, and stick with your creamier cleanser for your cheeks and other dry areas.

It can also help to use a clay mask 1-2 times a week in those oily areas to help soak up the excess oil.

3. Other Symptoms

What other symptoms are you noticing along with your acne? If it’s just the pimples alone, it’s probably not stress acne. But if you also see dilated pores, shininess, blackheads, and whiteheads, stress may be damaging your skin.

Action step: Use a product with salicylic or glycolic acid in it. These are gentle acids that will help exfoliate the skin, clear the pores, and even help the pores to look smaller.

4. Inflammation and Itch

Though acne is always accompanied by inflammation, stress acne is likely to have more visible inflammation and itch associated with it. You may notice the redness more, or feel like you have to scratch your skin more often.

Action step: Hit your skin with a double whammy of anti-inflammatory ingredients. Start by using Rescue + Relief as your toner, then follow with our Calming Moisture. Both have our exclusive Tri-Rescue Complex, a powerful anti-inflammatory, plus other calming ingredients like aloe, comfrey, and sunflower oil. Our Calming Moisture also contains oat extract to tame the itch.

Do you have stress-induced acne?

Photo by Claudia Barbosa from Pexels.

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