Hair, Health and Happiness: Using Your Scalp to Track Wellbeing

Hair is a cause of stress and anxiety for many people, with one in five American women even being driven to tears after a trip to the hair salon. Hair plays such an important role in society, with a full head being seen as a sign of youth, health and attractiveness, while hair thinning and loss can lead a person to feel undesirable. The images you see in the media are usually unrepresentative of what it means to have a healthy head of hair, but it is still important to pay attention to your scalp. Hair problems could be a sign of an underlying mental health concern and treating one could be the key to solving the other.

The Effects of Stress

Male pattern baldness is responsible for 95% of hair loss in men. This is a normal part of aging and rarely something to worry about. However, if your hair is falling out early or at an alarming rate, it could be due to stress. Paying attention to your hair could help you to identify stress early and take action against it.

Losing large clumps of hair at a time can often be a result of stress, as can a dry and itchy scalp. Keep track of when you notice hair changes and consider what is happening in your life at this time. Have you recently gone through a major life change or are you taking on too many responsibilities at work? Don’t be afraid to take a day off to completely relax or visit a therapist to try and work though your stress-related problems. This will prevent the stress from contributing to other mental health conditions.

Improving Your Nutrient Intake

Another reason for a reduction in hair quality could be your diet. The effects of a nutrient deficiency manifest themselves in the hair before any other body part. Protein, iron, zinc and vitamin D are all essential to your hair’s health, so consider upping your intake of these key minerals. This will also help to prevent feelings of depression and anxiety by keeping your brain chemistry well balanced.

Try to eat healthy and low fat proteins such as eggs, skinless chicken, oats, lentils and broccoli. Switching sugar and caffeine for slow-release energy will keep you feeling alert for longer and prevent a sudden crash in both mood and energy levels. If your hair starts to improve, then you know that both your physical and mental health is in a better state.

There is a careful balance to be achieved between a healthy concern for your body and living up to unrealistic societal expectations. You don’t need perfect flowing hair, but if you start to notice problems, it could be linked to your mental health. By putting your energy into maintaining a healthy scalp, you are taking back control over your life and giving yourself a boost of confidence. Improve hair by lowering stress and changing your diet and you’ll be doing wonders for your mental wellbeing at the same time.

Photo by kyle smith on Unsplash