There’s no competition when it comes to being stressed out — we’re all a little stressed. However, the things that cause our stress can vary. For me, my stress stems from being a young adult working and living in New York City. It’s an expensive, extremely competitive city, and there never seems to be enough hours in the day to check off all the boxes on my to-do list.
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Also adding to my stress? Life-long struggles with my fine hair.
My hair history
Even though I have plenty of hair, the strands are all very fine, which makes them extremely vulnerable to heat and overstyling. After nearly a decade of wearing hair extensions, I was left with a few thin patches across my scalp. It took a year of ditching the extensions and quitting regularly hair dyeing to fully grow back my missing hair. When the patches filled in, I thought my hair health was back on track — but then a few months later, I experienced an especially stressful week and my hair began to shed in those same areas.
It turns out styling isn’t the only thing that affects my hair: Stress has a significant impact as well. I wanted to see what I could do to prevent my stress-induced shedding from happening again, so in November 2019, I underwent Nutrafol’s hair mineral analysis. I work for Nutrafol, so this is a service available to me through my job; however, Nutrafol customers are also able to get their own hair mineral analysis for free after subscribing to Nutrafol for at least six months.
For the hair mineral analysis, I had a small swatch of my hair snipped off and sent into a lab for testing. When Dr. Giovanni Nelson, ND, called to tell me the results, he confirmed that my hair was being affected by my stress levels. He suggested I work with Nutrafol’s team of naturopathic doctors to come up with a Nutrafol GrowthPlan® that would help keep my stress in check.
The De-Stress Hair Growth Kit
That following week, I met with Dr. Mara Davidson, ND, to create my plan. Keeping my stress levels in mind, she recommended the Nutrafol De-Stress Hair Growth Kit, which includes the Nutrafol Core for Women with the Stress Adaptogen. The ingredients in Nutrafol’s Stress Adaptogen work to help improve the body’s stress response.
The stress hormone cortisol can trigger hair growth-harming pathways in the body, but these calming adaptogens help protect against stress-related complications and maintain a healthy hair growth cycle.
Lifestyle changes for stress relief
In addition to my supplements, Dr. Davidson advised me to make several lifestyle changes as well.
- Exercise often. For me, she recommended five times per week.
- Meditate daily. “Meditation is fantastic for stress,” Dr. Davidson noted. “Especially before bed.” She recommended apps, music, or yoga to switch up my meditations.
- Start taking a probiotic. She suggested incorporating a probiotic, like Nutrafol’s Hairbiotic, to support my gut health and help protect the gut from environmental and hormonal stressors.
- Cut out junk food. Particularly sugary foods that cause blood sugar to spike.
- Stay away from caffeine. Especially in the afternoon and at night.
She explained how stress can trigger many people to eat, and the foods stressed-out people usually reach for aren’t typically nutritionally-dense. Junk foods often leave you feeling worse, which then causes your stress to jump even more. People with stress or anxiety disorder also tend to have increased caffeine sensitivity, so Dr. Davidson recommended transitioning from coffee to tea (particularly chamomile tea when I need extra help calming down). I was also instructed to not eat right before bed, drink lots of water, and, if I must have caffeine, avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoons and evenings.
How I made Nutrafol part of my daily routine
For 30 days, I followed my GrowthPlan®. I found that taking the supplements every day was an easy task. Because I receive free products at work, I would take my six pills (the recommended daily doses are four Nutrafol Core pills and two Stress Adaptogen pills) as soon as I arrived to the office in the morning. I always made sure to take them with a breakfast that was heavy in protein and healthy fats (smoothies with avocado were my go-to) and drink a large glass of water.
Avoiding coffee and not stress eating was tough, though. I’m someone who has several cups of coffee every single morning, and I’ve always been somewhat of a “stress snacker.” I struggled throughout the entire month to give up caffeine completely, but by the end of week two, I was successfully fighting the urge to snack when I was stressed.
Meditation has never been a part of my routine, so remembering to meditate daily took some trial and error. I downloaded the mindfulness meditation app Headspace and tried out a few different meditations. My mind wandered a lot at first, but eventually I was able to let go of my constant swirl of thoughts and get into the meditations. I also practiced yoga several times throughout the month and made it to the gym at least four days each week.
After taking the supplements for 30 days and making the suggested lifestyle changes, I saw a difference in my stress levels. I slept better, was less jittery throughout the day, and felt less stressed overall. My day-to-day didn’t change much, but because I was feeling better from the inside out, tackling my to-do list felt more manageable and less chaotic. Now I’m less inclined to “stress snack” and make more of an effort to swap my coffee for tea (and every time I choose tea over coffee, I always realize how much better I feel throughout the day).
My plan not only improved my wellness from within, it also showed positive results on the outside: My hair feels much healthier, and it’s noticeably shinier. I got a trim just a few days before starting the Nutrafol De-Stress Hair Growth Kit and I already need another haircut.
Before, I was taking the Nutrafol Core alone, but now I know what a difference the targeted boosters can make — and I can see these results in my hair and my stress levels.