The Simple Burnout Indicator That’s Often Missed

Throughout history and across various cultures, hair has held symbolic importance.

Whether it’s the long, flowing locks of ancient Greek warriors or the intentionally shaven heads of Egyptian priests, hair — or the lack of it — often carried deep significance. It symbolised strength, wisdom, divinity, or even transcendence.

Ancient Greece, a civilisation teeming with myths, legends, and profound truths, held hair in high regard. Achilles, with his iconic golden mane, wasn’t just flaunting a stylish choice. His hair was an emblem of his divine heritage, showcasing his ties to the gods. It’s said his mother, Thetis, held him by this very hair while dipping him into the River Styx, gifting him near-invulnerability.

On the other side of the spectrum were great thinkers like Socrates. His full head of hair and beard became symbolic not just of his earlier warrior days, but of his transformation into a seeker of truth and wisdom.

Today, in our diverse and interconnected world, hair continues to be a personal canvas. For some, it’s a statement of health and vitality, while for others, it’s a mark of heritage, identity, or simply personal style.

But beyond aesthetics, hair can also be an often-overlooked barometer of our well-being.

Modern Narratives: Hair’s Tale of Vitality and Burnout

While long hair isn’t universally emblematic of strength today, our hair—be it long, short, or absent—can communicate about our health and well-being.

In particular, consider the significance of sudden changes in the texture, lustre and thickness of your hair that mark a noticeable change for you:

Thinning & Shedding:

A sudden increase in hair loss could be due to various factors, including stress, vital nutrient deficiencies, or significant life changes. This is the most obvious sign of burnout I see in my professional clients without undergoing hormonal blood testing to check their levels of the hormones cortisol and DHEAs.

Stress can push hair follicles into a resting phase known as the telogen phase. When hair is in this phase, it doesn’t grow anymore and, after some time, it sheds.

Usually, only 5-10% of a person’s hair is in the telogen phase at any given time, but severe stress can increase this percentage. As a result, several months after a stressful event, a person might notice a significant amount of hair shedding, often while brushing, washing, or even with gentle tugging.

Dullness & Brittleness:

Chronic stress can interfere with nutrient absorption and lead to a deficiency in essential vitamins and minerals that support hair health.

For instance, a deficiency in iron can lead to hair loss, and stress can be a factor that exacerbates iron-deficiency anemia. Other nutrients that impact hair’s lustre and strength such as B complex vitamins, essential fatty acids, zinc and vitamin can also be depleted.

Scalp Concerns:

A flaky or itchy scalp isn’t only about dandruff.

Stress, hormonal imbalances, or underlying conditions can manifest in scalp issues. Often, removing gluten from the diet if a client has a genetic predisposition to a gluten sensitivity, and replenishing essential fatty acids such as Evening Primrose Oil (both internally and topically) really helps.

Premature Greying:

While largely governed by genetics, early onset of grey hair might also be influenced by prolonged stress or certain deficiencies.

I have significant genetic variants related to poor antioxidant reserves in my body. It was not surprising to me to learn that most people in my family turned grey at an early age.

The Power of Rosemary: An Age-Old Solution

Navigating the maze of haircare solutions, one remedy stands out with both historical reverence and modern validation: rosemary oil.

Some studies have suggested that rosemary oil might be as effective as the hair loss drug minoxidil in promoting hair growth, but without some of the potential side effects.

Beyond growth stimulation, it acts as a protective agent against environmental stressors such as sun and pollution.

Incorporating rosemary oil is simple:

  • Direct Application:
    A few drops massaged into the scalp can revitalise the roots without making the entire length greasy.
  • Mindful Use:
    Moderation is key. Excessive use can make hair appear greasy. Focusing on the scalp can optimise benefits.

In today’s world, where personal well-being impacts every aspect of our lives, it’s crucial to pay heed to the subtle signals our body offers.

Whether it’s through adopting natural remedies like rosemary oil or making lifestyle adjustments, recognising and addressing these signs ensures we remain at our best, both personally and professionally.