Well, maybe not completely, but for the most part. There were a few hairs that didn’t get the mass suicide notice last fall when most of their brethren leapt to their deaths over a period of three months, but now the departures are gentle and intermittent. I’m afraid to say it out loud, but I’m beginning to nurse a nascent hope of having a full head of hair again, perhaps by summer.
What I actually want to talk about is the physical reaction to stress. Our bodies all react to stress differently, and I’ve discovered that my reaction has changed over the years. Like most people, I’ve had periods of high stress in my life, and as I’ve aged insomnia has become a bigger problem. I’ve also learned that prolonged stress and lack of sleep can give me sudden episodes of cardiac arrhythmia, so I try to manage the triggers the best I can. Unfortunately, one can’t predict sudden shocks, so I’ve had to learn how to minimize the episodes as well.
But before the “late unpleasantness” at my job, nothing had ever caused my hair to fall out. It’s one thing to hear anecdotally that stress causes hair loss but quite another to see fistfuls of evidence every morning in the shower. Even if we complain about our hair, more is unquestionably better than less. We connect hair loss with illness, and it reminds us that stress is an illness. We become stressed about our stress, and it feeds on itself like a snarling, voracious auto-cannibal.
That’s why I’m so happy to report that my hair has stopped falling out. It means my body is healing. And if my body is healing, it’s because my psyche is healing; my stress is diminishing. A very good omen for forging that new life in The Second Half.
You may be different, but for me, stress kills creativity. I don’t mean the lower-level stress of projects and deadlines; I mean the crushing existential stress that makes you want to run for the hills screaming. In future posts I hope to explore some methods of stress reduction that are new to me, like yoga and meditation. In the meantime, I’ll be peering in my mirror looking for signs of new little hairs sprouting where they should be—on top of my head!
What does stress do to your body, and what do you do to combat it? Please share. As they say on PBS’s The Red Green Show, we’re all in this together.