There are two times a year that cause my hair to (literally) fall out – the holidays and the end of the school year. Let me explain. Back in the beginning of March, we took the kids to Colorado for a long weekend ski-trip. On our last night there, I was sitting on the couch, minding my business when my daughter told me I had a bald spot on the back of my head. Actually, what she did was point and laugh at me, but I brushed it off thinking it was just the way my hair was pinned back in the clip. I started feeling around and noticed the spot she was referring to felt pretty big. I asked both girls to look, flipped my head upside down only to hear horrified gasps. The bald spot was 5x5 cm, approximately the size of my ear. That’s how I found out I have stress-induced alopecia.
When we got home, I went to see a dermatologist who diagnosed me. She said that this can happen 3-6 months after a traumatic/incredibly stressful event. I thought back. The only major stress I had going on at the time were the holidays, which are always stressful, but this year especially because I hosted a couple of parties which I normally don’t do. Anyway, two months later, the spot is still there. Fortunately, I have enough hair to cover it so it’s completely unnoticeable if I’m careful. The problem is now, every time I feel even slightly anxious, I am terrified that I’m going to lose more hair, which stresses me out even more!
Now that we’re approaching the last few weeks of school, I am at peak stress and I will do anything to keep myself from losing any more hair. Between tryouts for fall sports, soccer tournaments, dance recitals, band concerts, graduation parties, end of school field trips, finals, and birthdays, I am shocked I’m not Sinead O’Connoring it out here. Not only am I counting down the days until summer vacation begins, but I’m also counting how many hairs are still attached to my head.
The good news is that there are ways to manage end-of-school year activities and lower my blood pressure. Here are a few things I’ve been working on to help navigate this busy time:
- Prioritize self-care: It's important for working moms to take care of themselves during this time of year. This can include practicing mindfulness or meditation, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep. Taking care of yourself can help you to feel more grounded and better able to handle the stress of end-of-school-year activities. (For other self-care ideas, see my blog titled “Jen’s Sanity Survival Guide for Working Moms.”)
- Set realistic expectations: It's important to set realistic expectations for what you can accomplish during this time of year. Be realistic about what you can commit to, and don't be afraid to say "no" to activities or events that don't align with your priorities.
- Plan ahead: Planning ahead can help to reduce stress during the end of the school year. Consider creating a schedule or calendar to keep track of all the activities and events you need to attend and prioritize them based on their importance. This can help you to stay organized and reduce last-minute stress.
- Ask for help: Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. This can include asking your partner, family members, or friends to help with childcare or other responsibilities, or delegating tasks to others on your team at work. Remember that it's okay to ask for help when you need it.
- Take breaks when you can: It's important to take breaks when you can, even if it's just for a few minutes. This can include taking a short walk during your lunch break or taking a few deep breaths before a particularly stressful event. Taking breaks can help you to recharge and refocus.
In addition to these tips, it's also important to remember that burnout can have significant physical and mental health consequences - such as hair loss. If you are experiencing symptoms of burnout, it's important to seek help from a healthcare professional.
Finally, here are some resources that you may find helpful:
- The American Psychological Association has a helpful article on helping kids and teens manage stress: https://www.apa.org/topics/children/stress
- The National Institute of Mental Health has information on managing stress and anxiety: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/so-stressed-out-fact-sheet
- The American Heart Association has videos on managing stress for a healthy heart: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management
The end of the school year can be a lot for working moms. Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish. Moms need to prioritize self-care and seek help when needed. Otherwise, you’ll end up like me - running around telling everyone in your household that they’re the reason your hair is falling out. Also, please know that you're not alone. As a financial advisor, I specialize in helping women navigate the many demands on their time and resources. I hope you find these tips helpful, but if you need more personalized support, don't hesitate to reach out and schedule a consultation today – Jennifer.Jenkins@BluestoneWP.com.