MY ALOPECIA AREATA ACTION PLAN
How I plan to change my lifestyle and grow my hair back.
This action plan is a result of many unproductive doctor's visits, painfully unsuccessful steroid injections and a lot of personal education on Alopecia Areata and autoimmune disorders. I've broken it down into four categories that focus on strengthening my immune system. Alopecia Areata is a result of the immune system becoming confused and attacking healthy hair follicles. My hope is that by removing stressors and strengthening my immune system I can reverse the hair loss.
I read somewhere that whatever you are putting into your body is either "curing disease or causing disease". This is a pretty black and white guide for what I should be eating. Food has a very powerful effect on our immune system, so it's hugely important to eat the proper foods that will reduce inflammation in the body and restore and strengthen immunity.
ELIMINATE COMPLETELY: gluten, dairy, soy
REDUCE: refined sugar, alcohol, caffeine, processed food, GMO, red meat
ADD: organic, non-GMO produce, tons of veggies, greens every day, anti-inflammatory & immune supportive supplements
Moderate exercise has been shown to have positive immune system benefits, while too much exercise can negatively effect it. I have always struggled to find a balance between overdoing it with exercise and finding a way to consistently move and enjoy it. I used to think that a healthy exercise regiment meant going to intense crossfit classes 3-5 times a week and being unbearably sore every day in-between.
My new plan is to move at least an hour a day, but to only do activities that I enjoy. Riding the stationary bike while watching an episode of Gossip Girl, Barre 3, yoga classes, and long walks with my dog have been some of my new favorite ways to exercise.
One of the biggest benefits of exercise is it's ability to slow down the release of stress hormones. Stress hormones suppress the effectiveness of the immune system, so, naturally, a large part of my plan is to eliminate stress. I think I've always been a bit of an over-achiever with a type-A personality, so I can't really remember a time in my life when I wasn't stressed. It wasn't until I started losing my hair that I realized I needed to do something about my stress levels.
My new, anti-stress regiment involves:
- getting some outside perspective from monthly visits with a therapist
- 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation practice every evening
- surrounding myself with positive people, while trying to minimize interactions with those who cause me anxiety
- spending time in nature
- regular, enjoyable, exercise
Infection-fighting immune cells are decreased when we aren't getting enough sleep. Our bodies circadian rhythms are designed to follow a schedule of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark, 8 (at least) of those we should spend sleeping. However, we have the ability to defy the night with late night Netflix marathons, constant Instagram checking and alarms to wake us up way before the sun to squeeze in an extra couple of hours to work-out, clean the house or do whatever else we didn't get done the night before.
We are constantly wired and are losing sleep because of it. My goal is to get 8 hours of sleep a night and to accomplish that I have to disconnect and start unwinding at least an hour before bedtime. Hot tea, relaxing face wash, meditation and curling up with a good (non-electronic) book sets my mind and body into decompression mode and gets me primed for longer, more restful sleep.