The presidential election of 2016 was quite something, and has resulted in the phenomenon post election anxiety. A candidate that set out to become the first female U.S. president in history was pitted against an ultra rich real estate mogul and reality TV personality. The outcome surprised many people and things still do not seem to have settled. There is even something that is only half-jokingly called Trump anxiety disorder. No matter which side you were on and who you voted for, it seems like the process made the American people more divided than ever. If you feel stressed out, you are not alone! Did you know that stress can literally make you lose your hair? And it takes about three months for it to happen after a particularly stressful event, so right about now is when you may experience the effects from that election night, if you are sensitive to stress factors. Read on to learn why it happens, and what you can do about it.
How The Hair Grows
Hairs on the human head have a life length of about two to six years. The first stage in a hair’s life – the anagen phase – is when it grows a lot, about half an inch every 28 days. This is the phase that you want to last for a long time, if you are aiming for long and full hair. But factors like fluctuating hormones, certain medications or stress will shorten it. The second stage, called the catagen phase, only lasts for about two weeks. The hair follicles will detach themselves from blood vessels, and since blood is what makes the hair grow, the growth stops. In the third phase, telogen, the follicle rests before growing a new hair. So the hair simply hangs in there for about three months. Finally, the last phase that is called exogen is when the hair sheds. But at the same time, if you are healthy, new hair starts to grow and normally you would not notice any difference.
How Does Stress Affect My Hair Growth?
If you are stressed, for example from post election anxiety, the growing phase can be disrupted and big chunks of hairs can stop growing at once. This means they all enter the resting phase at the same time, to later shed at the same time in larger numbers than usual. Dermatologist Kurt Stenn performed an experiment on mice and exposed them to loud noises, and found this to be the case. He believes the reasons humans lose hair after being stressed are the same. “Stress does affect the human hair follicle as well, and we assume that what we see in the mouse is the same thing we see in the human – the same transition occurs,” Stenn said. This is believed to have something to do with our brains’ neurotransmitters, or stress hormones like cortisol. This type of hair loss due to stress is called telogen effluvium, when many hairs prepare to fall at the same time.
Phases of Stress
Because hair loss after a stressful event is delayed three months – that is how long the second and third phases in the hair growth cycle last – it can sometimes be hard to determine what the cause is. If you know the election stressed you out, you might be doing way better now that it is over and you can know that any hair loss is temporary. But if you are constantly stressed, for example because of an anxiety disorder, or if you are sensitive to triggers such as uncertainty of where the country is heading or what will happen to the climate, it can be tricky to do something about it. If you suffer from severe stress you could also suffer from the more dramatic type of hair loss alopecia areata, which means that the hair suddenly comes out in large clumps. The third type of stress related hair loss is trichotillomania. This is a habitual condition caused by stress, when a person pulls out hairs from the body or scalp without realizing it.
So, I Might Have Post Election Anxiety. What Do I Do About It?
If you are losing hair because of stress, it is time to wind down. Fact is that if you are already experiencing hair loss and you know that you had a stressful experience about three months ago. You can know that is it soon over. Just try to relax and focus on the present. When the next hair growth cycle starts, it will be back to normal. However, if you are stressed in general or suffer from depression or seasonal affective disorder. You may need to change your daily habits.
In today’s busy society, we often don’t take time for ourselves to have a mental break before moving on to the next thing. Practice mindfulness in your everyday life by taking a few moments for mediation or yoga. Breathe deeply and focus on yourself. This is particularly important if you suffer from post election anxiety, as political events that could cause stress are constantly covered in the media. Meditation has proven positive effects; mindfulness can actually lower blood pressure and help your brain deal with stress. Focus on being understanding rather than angry. Even if some politicians are enough to make you want to take a kickboxing class instead.
Good news, take the kickboxing class as well! Working out, getting your heart rate up and the adrenaline flowing. This will release endorphins and get you in a better mood. It will also help you sleep better, and being rested is vital for reducing stress. Oftentimes when we exercise, we find that for a moment there we only focus on the task at hand. It is way more fun to focus on a run in the forest than the politics of the day. If only for a moment!
It is actually scientifically proven that you will end up in a better mood if you smile. Even if it is a fake smile and you are just going through the motions. This could be hard if post election anxiety is the problem. Can we suggest watching your political satire TV show of choice?
Limit Your Social Media Consumption
Social media is an addiction for many, and can have a negative impact on your mood. Most people only post stuff that they are proud of and pictures from a good day. Usually you don’t share thoughts when you are depressed or have a bad day. Similarly, social media spreads a lot of political articles and even misinformation. So put down the phone and take a walk outside.
Nutrition is important, and some foods are better for hair growth than others. Avoid junk food and focus on fresh produce. A lot of dark leafy greens that contain iron, and lean protein from chicken and fish. Healthy food will both benefit your hair and make your post election anxiety feel better. Iron and protein are main building blocks in the hair. Zinc and selenium also play some starring roles. If you feel like you don’t get all the nutrients you should, a natural hair supplement is a good solution. Nutrafol contains Sensoril Ashwagandha, a natural ingredient that directly affects your body’s stress levels by decreasing cortisol by 30%. It also improves your resistance to stress, which reduces the amount of adrenalin that is released in your body. The Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years in the Indian medicine system Ayurveda. This plant reduces stress in a natural way.
Photos: amenclinicsphotos ac via Flickr
micadew via Flickr