One of the benefits of this soul-crushing pandemic is that people have been taking advantage to make changes within their household and in some cases, within themselves. Home improvements, distance education and fitness regiments that were previously untapped have become the norm. In fact, my neighbour has spent the past month bracing his basement, drywalling, replacing the electrical systems in his home and making upgrades. It’s been impressive to watch.
Some people have gained weight and damaged their health through the increased consumption of alcohol and junk food as well as a “nesting” instinct that includes lounging and working from home; all of which can have a detrimental effect on a person’s health. In my case, I’ve taken advantage of the current pandemic to do something that’s completely out of the ordinary, for me. It’ll likely sound silly and frivolous and I’ve done this twice. But to me, it’s something of significance. I’ve grown out my hair.
As you can see from the photo above, I have a significant growth of hair on my head. Considering the fact that this was a bit over a month’s growth and I’m usually bald and clean-shaven as a newborn, this is a fair bit of hair. You can almost see a light tinge of grey in the facial whiskers, a result of stress and troubles that plague my life in recent years. Considering I’m only in my early 40’s and my mother reached her 70’s before a touch of grey started to appear (notice I say a “touch” of grey), it’s a testament to the hardships I’ve had to deal with in recent years.
For those who may not be in the know (or who simply haven’t reached that stage in life), grey hair is caused when the pigment cells in your hair follicles that make melanin start to die. For the most part, this occurs later in life as advanced age begins to set in. Without these pigment cells, a person’s hair begins to lose it’s original colour and begins to appear grey and/or white. I started out my life with red hair, not unlike my infant son Alexandre’s hair. By the time I had reached the age of about six or seven years old, my hair darkened to it’s current dark brown, which is a combination of the red hair of my father and the black hair of my mother.
Although my first attempt at letting my inner hippy out to play only lasted a couple of weeks (I would shave EVERYTHING days after the photo was taken), my second attempt has gone on for almost two months. The difference this time, is that I trimmed my scalp while my facial hair continued to grow. The result is that even though more time has elapsed than the growth in February, my head doesn’t have as much hair but my beard is much fuller.
You may be asking, “Why are you writing a blog post about your hair turning grey? What does this have to do with Diabetes, Fitness or Buddhism?” Well, first of all, stop being sarcastic with me… My grey hair entitles me to respect! No, but seriously, I’m using this post as a visible indication of how much of a physical effect that stress can have on a person’s body. Some of us like to think that we’re invincible and can handle anything. But even the strongest stone will eventually succumb to the trickle of water.
According to an article posted by HealthLine.com, increased stress can lead to an increase in the stress hormone “cortisol,” which can lead to a bunch of negative and nasty side-effects over the long term. This can affect the nervous system and, big surprise! Your hair follicles are connected to your nervous system! This can cause those pigment cells to die off prematurely, turning your hair to a more, shall we say “distinguished” colour, way earlier than expected…
So there you have it! Increased stress can certainly cause one’s hair to turn grey, prematurely. And I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t been suffering from an increased level of stress over the past two and half years. I think we all have, for different reasons. But this is a visible reminder of why it’s all the more important to take steps to try and keep your life as stress-reduced as possible. You’ll notice that I say “reduced” and not “free,” because there really is no such thing as a stress-free life. Bruce Lee said so. ☯
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