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Like many people, I recently transitioned to working from home. Within a few short weeks, I noticed I was moving less, eating more, and experiencing changes in my sleep, stress, and anxiety levels.
I knew if I didn’t take control, the effects would show up in my hair, as stress is a leading cause of hair thinning. Typically, it takes about three to six months for stress to be reflected in your hair. Once the hair follicles detect the stress hormone cortisol rising, they receive a red light to stop growing and prepare to shed hair. More shedding and slower hair growth? No thanks.
To get myself back on track, I created a work-from-home routine that balances office time with the oh-so-important “me-time” that helps keep stress at bay. Here’s everything I do in a day to promote hair wellness while staying productive at work.
Wake up: 7 am
One of the best things you can do for hair wellness is maintain a consistent sleep-wake cycle. I sleep for a non-negotiable eight hours, wake up around 7 am, and drink a full glass of water with lemon to kick off the day.
Me-time: yoga, tea, and cat cuddles
First off, I am not a morning person. So after I brush my teeth, I go straight for a cup of caffeinated tea. Then I jump on my yoga mat (my cat usually joins me) and go through a simple yoga flow or a series of stretching that focuses on my back and hips. This helps my circulation and tension and keeps my mind centered before I jump into work. I can confidently say morning movement is the best thing I have ever done for my stress!
Self-care: clean beauty all the way
It’s important to me that the products I put on my body are free of any chemicals that can impact hair growth by disrupting my immune system or hormones. I use a natural deodorant that’s aluminum-free and all of my skin care products are paraben- and sulfate-free. My go-to morning skin care lineup is a serum, followed by moisturizer, sunscreen, and an eye cream with a brightening effect.
Heatless hairstyle: 30-second beach waves
I have naturally fine, wavy hair that truly loves a heatless style. Because of my natural texture, I steer clear of extreme temperatures and hair styling products like flammable hair spray, which can cause damage to the scalp and hair. I use a little dry shampoo between washes and do a quick twist and shake for a simple beach wave. (Tip: Opt for a pump top dry shampoo rather than aerosol cans containing butane, which can cause irritation and dryness.) Sometimes I mist on a sea salt spray that smells like coconuts and summer. Talk about instant happy thoughts.
P.S. By 1 pm, my hair is in a top knot. Two tips here: 1) Use a silk or satin hair-tie to avoid breakage, and 2) Try not to pull your hair into the tightest ballerina bun ever. Your scalp is only so strong.
Productivity hacks: schedule time for wellness
True story: I used to power through the day without any breaks or movement. (Just saying that makes me feel unhealthy now.) I knew I needed to hold myself accountable for myself so I started scheduling wellness into my work calendar.
I take a 30-minute lunch break to completely disconnect every single day. Smaller breaks are also scheduled for time to get up and move. Sometimes I just run or jump in place. I’ve got to get my steps in somehow! When I’m working on multiple projects simultaneously (which is always), I compartmentalize by planning small work windows for each one. When one project’s time is up, I switch to the next one.
Hair wellness: lunch and #4aday
I always feed myself a nourishing lunch along with my Nutrafol. To prevent wasting food (environmental health junkie here), I like to mix leftovers from the night before into a quick salad. I’ll combine colorful veggies (vitamin B, antioxidants) with a protein and an omega 3-rich healthy fat, as these are all essential to hair moisture, shine, and, in the case of healthy fats, the absorption of the nutrients in Nutrafol.
In addition to helping my hair growth and thickness, Nutrafol also helps balance my stress hormones, thanks to the adaptogenic herb ashwagandha. As a naturopathic doctor, ashwagandha is one of my favorite botanicals because it also enhances my sleep, mood, and energy levels.
Pick-me-ups: dance it out
Being home all day makes it easy to squeeze in mini self-care sessions. I love to apply a DIY hair mask between Zoom meetings and I’ve been doing a 20-minute virtual dance party every afternoon. A little carefree dancing behind closed doors helps me break a sweat and boosts my mood like nothing else! There are a ton of DJ set and dance party livestreams on social media right now and I highly recommend trying one. Check out Forward Space (Instagram handle: @forward_space) if you like pop music.
Unplugging: switch up your environs
Since my workplace and my home are the same place, unplugging can be difficult. I now set a time at the end of the day when I close the computer, log off work, and make a change of scenery. Usually I plan a walk or a workout to mark the transition. Before I switch to spending time with my family, I take a couple minutes in silence to think about something that I’m grateful for or a memory that makes me happy.