17/02/2016 06:35 GMT | Updated 16/02/2017 05:12 GMT

Tearing Your Hair Out

From traffic making you late for work, to an important deadline - stress can creep up on us from nowhere. And when it does, it can affect not only our general mood and wellbeing, but also the health of our hair.

Although stress doesn't directly cause hair loss, it can be a serious contributing factor, exaggerating the process.

In technical terms, sensory nerve fibres, neurohormones and neutrophins all play a role in the hair growth cycle. Levels of stress can have an effect on these and consequently accelerate loss of hair.

Hair growth can also be affected by stressful episodes, as anxiety disrupts the shedding cycle. This means that a few months down the line, once the stress has subsided, you might find you're shedding more hair than usual. But, contrary to popular belief, stress doesn't cause your hair to turn grey or cause permanent hair loss.

Of course, stress is incredibly difficult to avoid in our busy lives, so it's important to make sure we look after ourselves when we're experiencing a period of strain to minimise the effect it has on our locks. Healthy hair needs a varied diet that's rich in vitamins and nutrients to fuel its growth, and barely eating or only cramming in sugary products to combat stress is not conducive to a strong mane.

Your hair is made of protein, so it's essential that you have enough protein in your diet to maintain luscious locks. If you're not getting enough, your hair may become dry, brittle and weak. Iron is also key, as the hair follicle and root are fed by a nutrient-rich blood supply.

Vitamin C aids the absorption of iron, so try to combine iron-rich foods with those packed with Vitamin C - blueberries, broccoli and sweet potatoes are all great examples. Vitamin C also helps in the production of collagen, which strengthens the capillaries supplying the hair shafts.

It's also important to ensure you have a regular intake of nutrients to keep your scalp healthy. Foods rich in Omega-3 help to keep your scalp hydrated and Vitamin A is needed by the body to make sebum, an oily substance created by the hair's sebaceous glands to provide a natural conditioner for a healthy scalp.

As well as maintaining a balanced diet, looking after your general wellbeing can help to reduce the impact of stressful circumstances on your body. Try relaxation methods, such as yoga or meditation. Your doctor may also be able to help suggest alternative therapies, such as acupuncture.

So, next time you find your stress levels creeping up, try to take a breather and protect yourself - and your hair.