Would you be surprised to learn that 2 out of 3 people in the US are affected by high levels of stress on a daily basis? In our fast-paced world, stress has become a common issue for many of us. It’s like an unwelcome companion that tags along, and if we don’t handle it well, it can lead to major consequences. These consequences can even show up in your locs– sometimes as a warning and other times as a major wake-up call– as I shared in my YouTube video “How Stress Can Effect Your Locs“.
From causing hair breakage and thinning to altering hair texture and even triggering premature graying, the effects of stress on locs can be quite traumatizing. In this article, I’ll share with you the different ways stress can impact your locs and what it means. You’ll also learn a few tips to manage stress effectively and treat locs impacted by stress.
How Stress Can Affect Your Locs
The impact of stress on your locs can be quite significant and noticeable. Here are some of them:
Stress can weaken the hair strands and make your hair more fragile and prone to breakage. You may notice when you are going through a stressful time that some of your hair strands disconnect from the shaft of the locs. This disconnection, when left untreated, can compromise the part-to-loc ratio which can lead to thinning.
And here’s the thing: when we’re stressed, we typically resort to not-so-healthy coping mechanisms. That could include lack of water intake, little to no exercise, not making time for cleansing our hair, or generally rough handling of our hair. All of these things further contribute to breakage creating a vicious cycle.
Normally, most of our hair follicles are in the active phase of hair growth, but stress can disrupt this cycle. As more follicles take a break at the same time and stop growing, they shed the hair strands attached to them, which is when we notice hair loss. This typically shows up at thinning roots and weakness at the base of locs.
The good news is that once the stressful period is over and the stress hormones calm down, hair growth generally returns back to normal. But if the stress continues over a long period, it can mess with your scalp health too, making matters worse.
Did you know that when you’re stressed out your body goes into a sort of survival mode?! Your body will seize to send nutrients and minerals to “non-essential” functions like hair growth in order to deal with the perceived threat or stressor. It’s like your hair is hitting a pause button because your body is preoccupied with managing stress. So, don’t be surprised if you notice that your locs are growing at a slower rate during a stressful season.
Premature Gray Hair
While you may already know I am not a fan of the term “grey hair” because most people automatically associate that with something old and washed-up. I don’t believe that at all; however if you hold that notion you’ll want to consider this. Stress, especially if it’s chronic or long-lasting, can lead to a condition called oxidative stress. Basically, it’s an imbalance in the body where there are more unhappy cells in the body than the ones needed to get rid of them. This oxidative stress can affect the cells responsible for producing hair color, called melanocytes. Over time, it may cause these cells to produce less melanin, which is the pigment that gives hair its color. As a result, you might notice your hair turning gray earlier than you expected.
How Can You Help Locs Affected By Stress?
Treating locs impacted by stress requires a combination of care, patience, and a holistic hair care routine. Here are a few tips to help you reverse your stress and restore your locs to a better state:
Reduce Your Stress
Reducing stress is crucial for your overall well-being, and there are various techniques you can try to reach that goal. Here are my top 5 tips to help you find stress relief:
- Take a deep breath: When stress starts creeping in, take a moment to focus on your breath. Just breathe in slowly and deeply, and exhale all that tension away. It might sound simple, but deep breathing can do wonders for calming your mind and body. Also, download the “Insight Timer” app because they have a lot of breathing exercises and medications to help you center yourself.
- Practice mindfulness or meditation: Mindfulness and meditation are all about being present in the moment and letting go of those racing thoughts. You can try guided meditation apps or simply find a quiet spot to focus on your breath and let your worries fade away. One of my favorite practices in a moment of anxiety or stress is to ground myself in the present moment with the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. In this technique, you identify FIVE things you see around you, FOUR things you can touch around you, THREE things you hear, TWO things you can smell, and ONE thing you can taste. Give it a try, it really works!
- Find a creative outlet: Tap into your inner artist and let your imagination run wild. Painting, writing, playing an instrument, or even trying your hand at gardening can be fantastic outlets for stress relief. Express yourself and enjoy the process without worrying about the outcome.
- Connect with the community: Don’t underestimate the power of a good chat. Reach out to your loved ones and share what’s on your mind. Sometimes, just talking things through with a friend, family member, or acquaintance can provide comfort and a fresh perspective. And hey, laughter is great medicine too!
- Get enough sleep: Many of us underestimate the power of rest on our overall mental health, but sleep can be and is revolutionary. Establish a soothing bedtime routine and sticking to a consistent bedtime are key. When you’re well-rested, you’ll be better equipped to tackle whatever stress comes your way.
And when it comes to restoring the damage that stress may have caused on your locs, there are 2 crucial components– avoiding too much styling and incorporating strengthening routines.
Avoid Excessive Manipulation
Minimize styling techniques that put stress on your locs, such as tight updos, excessive twisting, or constant retwisting. Your locs need to breathe and relax, just like you do. So, try to go for looser updos or styles that don’t tug on your locs too tightly.
Repair and Strengthen
Strengthening treatments or protein-based products specifically made for locs are definitely what you want to add into your regimen. These treatments can work wonders in repairing and improving the health of your hair. Typically strengthening treatments and products contain ingredients that help fortify your hair and reduce breakage.
So, it’s essential to be mindful of your stress and manage it effectively for the sake of your overall health and the health of your locs. It’s a reminder that our bodies are interconnected systems, and what affects us emotionally can manifest physically as well.
Remember, stress is just a detour on your loc journey. With a little patience and a lot of self-care, your locs will bounce back to their natural radiance in no time. If you’re unsure about specific treatments, consult with a professional loctician for personalized advice and guidance. And if you’re looking to connect with a community of people who are on their unique loc journey, I’d love to have you as a member of my Loc Goals Club!