Exercise, Alopecia and Wigs – Christine

Christine has Alopecia Universalis and it’s been an emotional journey. Exercise has helped her through it and AAAF is honoured to be able to sponsor her. 

Christine received sponsorship for her exercises classes where she participated in an 8-week challenge despite being nervous about wearing a wig. 

In the process, she embraced her strength and vulnerability, got stronger (inside and out) gained community, acceptance and confidence. 

Christine, we are so proud of you and so grateful you are a part of our community. 

AAAF recognises the importance of exercise and healthy habits in the experience of alopecia and sponsors individuals like Christine to support their journey. 

Dear reader we’d love to support YOU with your healthy habits and challenges. 


Apply for a sponsorship today. 

Advice from the community

Hello, dear Alopecia family. We have spent some time collecting advice from our beloved community, so you could access our ultimate compilation of advice.

Some advice has been edited to allow us to feature each person and to create an enjoyable reading:

Be proud of yourself and everything about you including your bald head, but cover it up when in the sun or when cold. It’s ok to hide if you need privacy or aren’t up for having your uniqueness on display at that moment.

Alana

There is always someone worse off than you. You have people who love you and you can achieve anything you want. I remember as a little girl my prayers weren’t for me but, they were for people worse off. In the long run, it’s devastating not having hair, but it’s only hair.

-Claudia

Never hide, you will only hurt yourself by pretending you’re something you’re not. I’m not saying don’t wear wigs; do what makes you comfortable, but don’t be ashamed or embarrassed, genuine people will be kind and the others don’t matter.

-Chloe

Acceptance is the key to living a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Acceptance is gained differently for different individuals. Some learn peace through yoga and meditation, some need friends and family support, and others may benefit from counseling.

-Linda

My advice to anyone living with Alopecia is to be open about it. The amount of
people who have told me about their alopecia or a family member because I
openly talking about my wigs or because I take them off in front of people has amazed me.
The more open you can be, the more you will find yourself comfortable with
your own hair situation and inspire others to open up.

-Corinne

Be Bold,
Be Bald,
We are all different and that is beautiful.
Please accept yourself and remember your awesomeness regardless.
Learn to love yourself and follow your dreams.
Smile and be happy.

– Pauline

Learn to love yourself as you are and talk about how you are feeling. It may take time to come to terms with your alopecia, and some days you may feel sorry for yourself, but that’s ok. Above all, remember your hair loss does not dictate how you can approach life. Breathe, relax and share in all the beauty around you.

-Bridgette

Practice kindness to yourself, celebrate your differences and uniqueness. Surround yourself a positive, inclusive and supportive community. Acknowledge feelings, don’t try to hide from them. You are beautiful, you are strong and you’ve got this

– Zoe

Do what you feel is right for you and believe in yourself.

– Airlee

Wake up each morning and know that you are beautiful with or without hair.

-Sienna

Own it, take the power from anyone who tries to put you down, because bald is beautiful.

-Kayla

Smile at everyone you meet, then you will always be beautiful

-Michelle

Improve what you can change and learn to accept what you can’t.
You only live once, make the most of it!

-Anne.

Accept that some days you will feel fine with no hair, others you will feel freaky.
Focus on the positives whenever you can – no waxing, shaving, hair removal cream, no hairdressing salons (I use to hate reading magazines and doing a small talk at the hairdressers – haha) no grey hair, a 5 min shower, and the ability to change your style and color at any time!
Have your explanation, and various versions of it ready, so you are comfortable when other people mention your wig or no hair. (Have a version for kids, work colleagues, friends, etc
I used to worry about upsetting people, making them feel awkward when they find out I have no hair…

– Don’t –

Just explain it confidently and that puts them and you at ease.

-Helen

The first thing you are going to need is a strong support system. It is a rough emotional ride and there’s, unfortunately, no book out yet called “So you’ve just been diagnosed with Alopecia”. You may want to isolate yourself but what you need to do is find other people who have this condition and take your Mum or a trusted Best Friend with you. Find a support group in your town or city or start chatting online.
Start slow and try to learn as much as you can about different types of eyebrow wigs, eyelashes, eyelashes, tattoos, and wigs as there are many styles such as monofilament, human, synthetic, virgin, suction, etc! You may decide you don’t want to replicate what you looked like previously and are happy to be bold and brave and out there.

Being in denial is also unhelpful for your wellbeing; blocking out your condition and how you feel about it with any substances is going to do a lot of damage in the long run and it probably won’t help you to grow your hair back.

Be prepared for the unexpected when you tell someone special because others’ reactions can really impact your mental health.

In hindsight, what I can tell you now, is that it’s important to get to a point of acceptance as quickly and as healthily as you can. This happened to you but it doesn’t have to define you. Find out what makes you happy and continue to do those things with people you love. For me, it’s going fishing on the beach, and I sure could use a hat with hair for that!

-Tamara

Photos taken from our 2021 camps.

Access the PDF on advice from the community here.

View the advice slideshow below:

Isabella’s Alopecia Story

My Name is Isabella. I am 9 years old. I have had Alopecia since I was 3.

I was born with a birth defect called Gastroschisis. This means my organs were outside of my body when I was born and I needed surgery right away to save me.

I have a poor immune system because of this and Hair loss has become one of my main symptoms of this. I see my dermatologist every 3 months. I am currently on different medications to help supress my immune system to help my hair grow which has really helped me.

Sometimes I feel really sad. My Drs think I might be developing LUPUS and I have blood tests once a month. At the moment they can only help with me treat the side affect until we can confirm my diagnosis.  I am tired of having blood tests and taking tablets. 

I always loved Dancing, Dancing makes me feel so happy even if my body is tired. I started Cheer this year. It is fast, and so much fun. I am learning to tumble and have made a lot of friends.

Thank you for reading my story.

In November, Isabella was able to finally compete with her team last weekend at her very first dance competition. Here Mum wrote:

Out of 15 teams competing her team came in 2nd. As I was not allowed in the warm up area her Coach had to take photos for me which I am yet to get form her so once I have gotten these I will forward them on .:)

You can see on her face how much dance just lights her up in every single way. I watched with tears rolling down my face.

Her current treatments are working so well for her we have been able to stop her Chemo after 6 long months and her hair growth is just amazing, We are not at the stage yet where she can braid and do her hair like her friends.

However we can comfortably do low pony tails and where she was completely bald has now tuned into a beautiful fringe.

Isabella is a recipient of the AAAF Sponsorship Program which has allowed her to pursue her dancing (see images below). For more information about the sponsorship program click here.

How Meditation Affects an Anxious/Depressed Mind

Guest post by sponsorship participant Sheridan Ruth.

View the meditation support flyer here.

It’s believed that about 5% of adults worldwide suffer from depression and at least 4% suffer from an anxiety disorder.

Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide. Anxiety disorders can affect everything from physical health to social wellbeing. The rates of both of these potentially debilitating mental health conditions are on the rise and, in individuals with alopecia, they’re even more prevalent.

Like alopecia, there is no cure for depression and anxiety. However, these conditions can be treated in a variety of ways, including pharmacologically, with various types of therapy, or with more holistic, alternative treatments. 

Among those holistic and alternative treatments is meditation, which is quickly gaining recognition as a powerful tool for coping with mental health conditions, specifically, anxiety and depression. 

Alopecia, Anxiety and Depression

Although alopecia doesn’t cause mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, these kinds of conditions are more common in individuals with alopecia than in the general population. 

Individuals with alopecia are at an elevated risk for developing anxiety disorders or experiencing a serious depressive episode. There are many reasons this might occur.

Scalp hair is tied up with concepts of beauty, youth, virility, and femininity. Not having scalp hair, then, can feel like a failure to confirm to societal norms regarding physical appearance. It’s therefore unsurprising that individuals with alopecia tend to feel socially rejected.

Hairloss is especially an issue for women. Approximately 40% of women who have alopecia report that it’s caused marital problems and 63% claim that it’s caused career problems. This may be associated with the lower levels of self esteem and poorer body image in individuals with alopecia.

Of course, the loss of hair in and of itself is a loss. For this reason, it’s normal to experience grief. But when that grief persists and comes along with deep sadness and a loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities, it can quickly move into the realm of depression.

People with alopecia may also experience bullying from external sources. This can further compound the feelings of shame, isolation, and difference that contribute to anxiety and depression.

4 Ways Meditation Affects an Anxious/Depressed Mind

Meditation has a tangible and positive impact on both anxiety and depression. A regular practice can lead to material changes in the brain and its functions. Below are 4 specific ways that meditation affects an anxious or depressed mind.

1. Calming the mind

The DMN consists of different parts of the brains that interact when an individual isn’t focused on the outside world. In other words, this is where out minds go when they’re wandering. It’s where we worry about the future and ruminate about the past. 

An overly active DMN is associated with unhappiness. Indeed, people with depression have a hyperactive DMN. 

But meditation can quiet the DMN and, in turn, reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. In fact, long-term meditators are able to take themselves out of the DMN better than those who do not practice meditation.

2. Regulating Fear, Stress, and Anxiety

The amygdala is the part of the brain that processes fear, stress, and anxiety. This is where our fight or flight response comes from.

Animals also have this part of the brain. Researchers have found that animals who face significant stress and anxiety in their lives are more likely to have a highly developed amygdala. This suggests that there’s a correlation between exposure to fear, stress, and anxiety and a more robust amygdala.

What some research has found is that mindfulness meditation reduces the size of the amygdala. Researchers believe that this is the result of a reduction in stress. 

3. Strengthening the Pre-Frontal Cortex

Meditation not only reduces the size of the fear, stress, and anxiety processor, it also increases the thickness of the pre-frontal cortex. This part of our brain is where “higher order” brain functions originate. That is, this is where our awareness, concentration, and decision-making skills live.

With more meditation, the connections in this part of the brain grow stronger. Individuals become better able to access higher order brain functions, especially in times of stress.

4. Improved Emotional Regulation, Perspective Taking, and Self-Reference

If we’re talking about scientific research into the effects of meditation on the brain, we would be remiss not to mention the work of Harvard-based neuroscientist Sara Lazar. Lazar’s work has shown numerous physical changes to the brain as the result of meditation.

Her work has shown that meditation has the potential to change gray matter concentration, the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporoparietal junction (TPJ), and the cerebellum. These areas are related to emotional regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking, which are all areas in which people with depression and anxiety struggle. 

How to Get Started 

Be patient with yourself and recognize that meditation is a practice. It takes time and consistent effort in order to realize the benefits. However, Lazar’s work showed significant changes in the brains of her participants in as little as 8 weeks – so it doesn’t take more than a few months to start seeing changes from a meditation practice.

The most important things to note in terms of where to start have to do with the amount of time you sit, how often you sit, and what resources you use to make meditation enjoyable. For in-depth information on all of these and more, be sure to check out our 5 Tips to Start Meditating article.

Sheridan Ruth shares this information from what she has learned through her meditation practice and studies, sponsored by our Sponsorship Program. If you have a form of Alopecia Areata, are a resident of Australia you could also receive support for your passions and hobbies. Learn more about the sponsorship program here. 

About the author

Sheridan is a world traveler, women’s empowerment advocate, yogi, and Yoga Therapist. She supports women with hair loss to feel more self-acceptance, step into their true power, and radiate confidence. Sheridan supports women at various stages of their journey, who share one common goal – transforming their hair loss journey into a self-empowering, spiritual journey. 

Since losing her hair at 7 years old, Sheridan battled the ups and downs of hair loss for most of her life. Brought to the yoga mat by her own mental health afflictions, Sheridan was once unsure about what to do and where to go, completely disconnected from her reality and her body. Today she is motivated to assist others in moving past their own entrenched traumas and self-confidence issues through the practice of yoga. She accomplishes this through a deep understanding and constant study of the connection between mind and body and uniting the esoteric teachings of this ancient practice with valuable, evidence-based western sciences such as psychology.  

Sheridan has completed her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Certificate in Power Yoga and Healing Sequence and completed a certificate in Yoga Therapy & Yoga Psychology, all while building her women-centered non-profit in Medellin, Colombia. 

She now exclusively serves the hair-loss community, creating safe spaces for her community to dive deep into self-inquiry, reconcile with their bodies, and connect with a sense of grounded confidence. Her calm but energetically powerful teaching style creates a safe and loving space in which to grow and ultimately encourages a better relationship with your physical and spiritual bodies, greater awareness, and a profound sense of self-love. 

http://www.sheridanruth.com

Mental Health, Alopecia, and Meditation

Alopecia is never life-threatening or extremely physically painful, however, the psychological impacts of alopecia can be devastating.

On the less severe side of those psychological impacts are feelings of isolation, embarrassment in social situations, and guilt. Individuals with alopecia may also experience grief over the loss of their hair or socially withdraw.

On the more severe side, alopecia is associated with an increased prevalence of psychiatric disorders such as a major depressive episode, anxiety disorder, social phobia, or paranoid disorder. It impacts an individual’s sense of self and identity and can lead to personal, social, and work-related issues.

There’s no cure for alopecia or the mental health issues that can come along with it. But, in recent years, extensive research on meditation has offered some insight into the potential mental and emotional health benefits of mindfulness. 

What Is Meditation?

First documented in India between 5,000 and 3,5000 BCE, meditation has been around for thousands of years. The main benefit of a meditation practice, in terms of mental health, is developing mindfulness. That is, regular meditation results in a more mindful life.

But what is mindfulness? It’s a state of awareness in which you focus on the present moment. When you’re being mindful, you’re aware of everything happening inside and outside your body, including thoughts and physical sensations. Importantly, you’re aware of these things and you don’t pass judgement on them. You accept that they’re there and you recognize that there’s no need to change them.

Meditation is a vehicle for practicing mindfulness. Of course, it would be difficult to practice awareness of thoughts and sensations in the middle of a busy, noisy room. Meditation gives you the opportunity to tune into these subtle ques and slip into a state of awareness.

How Does Meditation Help with the Mental Health Aspects of Alopecia?

Meditation and mindfulness can relax the body and mind. But science has only just started to look into the less obvious benefits of meditation and mindfulness, including coping with pain, improving attention, and rewiring neural pathways so that we’re able to change habits and other behavioral patterns.

Practicing meditation to develop mindfulness is less about keeping your mind clear of thoughts, as is often the perception, and more about taking the power away from your thoughts and emotions. As you continually practice coming back to your breath and dismissing thoughts without judgment during a meditation, the way your brain and nervous system react in response to intrusive, anxious, self-deprecating, or depressive thoughts in real life also begins to change.

Although researchers aren’t 100% sure quite how this works, a recent study out of Yale University offers some insight. The study looked into the impact of mindfulness meditation on the default mode network (DMN) in the brain. 

The DMN is the program our brain switches to when our minds are just wandering. Having an overly active DMN is associated with unhappiness, ruminating, and worry (about both the past and the future). It’s from this mind state that we question our appearance, diminish our self-esteem, and think all of the thoughts that cause stress, anxiety, and depression

What the researchers found is that meditation can quiet the DMN. What’s more, when the mind did go into the DMN state, people who meditated regularly could take themselves out of it better than others. This may be one of the reasons why meditation is so great at reducing stress, anxiety, and depression as well as improving self-image and self-esteem – aka all the emotional and mental health issues most associated with alopecia.

Getting Started

Meditation is something that’s accessible to everyone. There are no side effects, it doesn’t cost a penny, and you can do it every day.

But how do you get started? We recommend starting small. Trying to meditate for 25 minutes at a time when you’re first beginning is going to be difficult and not achieving your goal could have you quitting before you ever get started. Instead, start with putting three to five minutes aside, and follow these instructions:

  1. Find a quiet space where you’ll be free of distraction for your entire practice.
  2. Take a seat or lay down if it’s more comfortable.
  3. Set a timer for the amount of time you’d like to meditate (beginnings shouldn’t start with any more than five minutes).
  4. Check in and make any last necessary adjustments to ensure you’re comfortable.
  5. Close your eyes, place your hands either palm up or palm down on your knees, and straighten your spine.
  6. Now, notice your breath. Notice your breath as you inhale and exhale and how your belly rises and falls with each breath.
  7. If your mind wanders or thoughts enter your head, which they inevitably will, just notice it, return to your breath, and let it pass.
  8. Don’t pass judgement on your thoughts or yourself. Don’t try to change it. Simply notice and return to your breath.
  9. When the timer is up, don’t open your eye and jump up immediately. Take time to open your eyes to the light and to come back into your environment.

Remember that meditation is a practice. That is, you develop it over time, so don’t be discouraged should your mind wander often or if you find it difficult to return to your breath. Some days will be easier than others and the important things with meditation is that you’re consistent.

Additional Resources for Your Wellbeing

Meditation is a way to practice mindfulness, and mindfulness allows us to be present with our thoughts and emotions without judgment or the need to change them. Bringing mindfulness into our lives takes power away from those thoughts and emotions and, in turn, improves the mental health of practitioners. For individuals with alopecia, this may be one incredible way to deal with anxiety, depression, social phobias, and self-esteem issues.

But there are other ways, too. Check out more support resources here.

The opinions expressed in this article are not that of AAAF, but of their Sponsorship Recipient, Sheridan Ruth. 
Sheridan received a sponsorship from AAAF for her meditation practice. You can also receive sponsorship by clicking here to learn more

Frankie’s Alopecia Story

My name is Frankie. I am turning 8 in August and I have Alopecia.

My mum noticed a small bald patch in my hair when she was washing it one day in May 2020. Mum accused me of playing with her razor but I hadn’t touched it. Mum watched it for a couple of weeks and since it was getting bigger we went to the doctor. The doctor diagnosed me with Alopecia and prescribed a steroid cream but the bald patch continued to get bigger and more bald patches started. The doctor then sent me to a specialist dermatologist who prescribed prednisolone. This medicine made me feel very emotional and I hated it. What was worse is that the medicine didn’t help either so we decided to stop taking it. Over 6 months most of my hair fell out and I now have Alopecia Totalis.

At the start I didn’t like it and I thought no one would want to be my friend if I was bald. Now I am ok with it. I still have all my friends and no one is mean to me.

Recently I started going to art classes. A sponsorship from the Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation has helped me do this. I have made new friends at art classes and everyone treats me the same as they treat everyone else. They help me forgot that I have Alopecia and I feel good.

Alopecia Areata…. It’s life changing

Thank you to Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation for the sponsorship.

Learn more about the sponsorship here.

Brows, Lashes, and Alopecia

Did you know there are many types of alopecia areata? Each type has a unique pattern of hair loss. You may have seen that some people with alopecia range from just a few patches to having no body hair at all. This guide will help you understand why that is and attempt to answer the common question of “how much hair will I lose?” 

If you have AA and are wondering “will I lose my eyebrows and eyelashes?” like so many things to do with AA, there’s no easy answer to this question. You could lose them very quickly, or you may not lose them. Let’s have a look at why that is in this quick guide to brows, lashes, and alopecia areata.

How Alopecia Causes Hair Loss

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease. For unknown reasons, the immune system mistakenly recognizes your own body as the enemy and attacks it.  Alopecia areata -targets the hair follicles. This results in the hair follicle slowing down hair production. 

Alopecia areata typically presents as round patches of complete hair loss. These patches usually develop over a few weeks and may present as one patch or multiple patches. Alopecia areata does not lead to the inability to regrow hair. In many cases, hair loss isn’t permanent, and patches regrow over the course of several months.

However, for some individuals, alopecia areata will persist and hair may never regrow. For an even smaller percentage of people, alopecia areata will develop into other types of alopecia. Alopecia totalis involves the complete loss of hair on the scalp and Alopecia universalis involves the loss of hair on the scalp as well as the body (including eyelashes and eyebrows). 

To best understand how Alopecia Areata works across the different parts of your body, its important to  understand the phases of hair growth. The eyebrow growth cycle typically lasts about 4 months;the eyelash life cycle typically lasts 3 months; and the scalp hair’s growth cycle typically takes about 3-4 years to complete. You can read more about them here.

When Will Alopecia Affect Your Brows and Lashes?

It’s estimated that 50% of alopecia areata patients recover within 1 year of their diagnosis. On the other hand, 10% of alopecia areata patients will develop alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis.

Individuals with alopecia universalis experience the loss of all their body hair. That includes the hair on the scalp, body, and face. But there’s no particular timeline for this. Hair loss in some individuals occurs suddenly, in only a few days or weeks. For others, the spread of hair loss takes significantly longer.

If you already have alopecia areata and are starting to notice hair loss on other parts of your body, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor. While you may be losing hair for many reasons (such as age), if you are unsure about it, a trip to the doctor can be a good idea. 

Medication Options for Alopecia Universalis

Like alopecia areata, there is no cure for alopecia universalis. However, there are some treatments that have been effective in some individuals. When treating AA there are several medications that treat scalp hair loss that will also help with eyebrow and eyelash, however, some medications can be used to specifically target eyebrow or eyelash hair loss. For eyelashes and eyebrows specifically, you make consider the use of JAK creams for eyebrows and Latisse treating glaucoma, it can be used to grow and thicken eyelashes.

Did you know we keep a list of treatment options here? This is a general list and what medication is right for you will depend on the conversation you have with your doctor. They’ll take into consideration your age, medical history, and severity of your condition before recommending something that might work for you. 

Coping with the Loss of Brows and Lashes

Although alopecia areata doesn’t have any physical impact beyond hair loss, there’s no doubting the effect it can have on the emotional and mental wellbeing of individuals who have it. Alopecia areata can cause intense emotional distress, high levels of anxiety and depression, and personal, social, and work-related problems. 

When it comes to hair loss on the scalp, you might choose to use accessories such as hats, scarves and wigs. When it comes to brows and lashes, you also have a few options! 

Options might include 

  • No makeup/accessories 
  • Temporary tattooing 
  • Makeup (eyebrow stencils can help with this) 
  • Eyebrow wigs
  • Cosmetic eyeliner
  • Cosmetic eyebrow tattooing
  • Magnetic lashes (yes – you can use them even if you don’t have lashes). 
  • Temporary stick on eyebrow tattoos. You can view them here

A note on cosmetic eyebrow tattooing: Today’s techniques, like microblading, make it near impossible to tell the difference between real brows and tattooed ones. And because brows are so in right now, there’s also tons of makeup kits that help you create the illusion of full brows. False eyelashes can help satisfy your need for thick, curly lashes. There are professional salons that do lash extensions or you can purchase fake lashes at basically any chemist or beauty place. 

But perhaps the most important strategy for coping with the loss of lashes and brows is to find people who have similar experiences. You can read about other people’s stories here or find a local support group where you can share your thoughts and feelings in a safe and understanding space.

If you are losing your eyelashes or eyebrows, we highlight recommend watching our most popular video Alopecia Style: Eyelashes and Eyebrows (insert video below) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX4dwUG67gs

Corinne’s Alopecia Story.

My name is Corinne Scullie, I am 37 years old and I am currently suffering from Alopecia Universalis.

My journey with alopecia began when I was in primary school and I started losing patches of my hair. Alopecia was something my mum already had experienced herself so we knew what it was straight away. I recall trying different things at the time to try and help but eventually it all fell out. The biggest thing I remember about this time was that most people assumed I had cancer and that not many people knew what alopecia was.

At school I was allowed to wear whatever hats I wanted inside the classroom as well as outside and I thought this was awesome because everyone else had to wear the dorky school hats. During this time, I continued to play Netball and participated in Calisthenics. My hair grew back quite quickly and over this period I never wore any wigs.

Since then I would get the occasional patch over the years but it wasn’t until 2014 that it really started to disappear again. This time, I lost all my hair and eventually my eyebrows, eyelashes and body hair disappeared too. Because alopecia was something I had grown up with (my mum continued to have it come and go over the years and one of my younger sisters also lost her hair) I found it a lot easier to accept than most.

I started buying wigs and named my first one ‘Big Red’ (because it was a long red wig) and we had a lot of fun together. I have never shied away from the fact that I have alopecia but once my kids got to a certain age, I had to begin to factor in their comfort levels as well as my own. Slowly, their friends became aware. My son, in particular, found it funny to pull my wig off and say “my Mum’s bald!”.

Given I have a bit of a collection of different wigs, it also has become fun for kids (and sometimes the adults) to try them on. When explaining to younger kids I often say I have magic hair that can come off and go back on – sometimes it changes colour too. Its quite funny to then see them try and take their hair off too.

After several years of attending my daughter’s calisthenics competitions and concerts I started to want to get involved again myself. She was around 6 at this time and wasn’t keen for me to join and I think part of this was the fact that I would be on stage in front of people without hair. I gave her another year before raising the subject again and she was not thrilled, but my husband made her come around to the idea.

Joining the Masters team of Bendigo Calisthenics Club has been the best for my self-confidence. I have made new friends and helped spread some awareness within the club about Alopecia. Receiving this funding grant has allowed me to continue this year and will also give me a platform to spread further awareness throughout the calisthenics community.

Thanks to the Australian Alopecia Areata Foundation (AAAF), for funding my return to Calisthenics and for helping me spread awareness about Alopecia!

Emma’s Alopecia Story.

My name is Kylie and I am Emma’s Mum. Emma was diagnosed with Alopecia during the first lockdown in SA, in March 2019.

It all started with some of Emma’s hair on her head falling out in big patches.  Then it slowly progressed to her eyebrows, eyelashes, and all of her hair on her head, arms and legs.

We had trouble getting Emma into seeing a specialist and dermatologist at the time of the hair loss due to the COVID 19 outbreak and many doctors were not taking patients from the Barossa which is where we live, due to the cluster in Tanunda (the tourists from the American Cruise Ship).

When Emma returned to school after the COVID lockdown, she had lost a lot of her hair and wanted to wear a hat to school.  I emailed all of Emma’s school friends to advise them of the situation and to let them know Emma may look a bit different and all her friends wore a hat or beanie to Emma’s first day back at school.

Emma is a resilient and strong girl and has handled what life has thrown at her health wise with strength and dignity.  She amazes me every day and I feel privileged to be her Mum.

The funding we have received from the foundation has been amazing and has helped Emma continue her passion for Gymnastics.   This activity gives her so much confidence and he shas progressed to the Performance Team in her gymnastics group and continues to improve and practices daily at home.

We would like to thank the Australian Alopecia Areata Foundation (AAAF) for helping and sponsoring Emma 😊

How to Start Meditating

Guest post by sponsorship participant  Sheridan Ruth

Many people feel that meditation is out of reach for them. And yet, since 2012, the number of people who practice meditation has more than tripled.

Meditation is accessible to everyone, you just have to know how to go about it in a way that promotes the best possible results. That means understanding the general intention of the practice, being kind to yourself as you develop your practice, and finding ways to be consistent, among other things.

If you’re interested in starting a meditation practice, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve gathered 5 tips that will help you get started on the right foot.

1. Use an App

When you’re first starting to meditate, sitting in silence for even two minutes can feel grueling (especially on some days). But there is plenty of help out there to get you started, keep you motivated, and make the most of the time you put away to start developing a practice.

There are apps like Headspace and Calm. These free apps have meditation programs specifically designed for beginners. You can work your way through those programs as your practice grows.

There are also apps like Insight Timer, with thousands of pre-recorded and even live meditations (as well as lectures, programs, and other great audio). Just type “beginner” into the search bar and there are hundreds of meditations to choose from. You can filter by the length of time you want to sit, the type of practice, benefits of the practice, and even origins.

2. Be Consistent

“I can’t meditate” is probably the most common response to the suggestion that someone should start meditating. So accustomed to having a busy mind, many people meet resistance when they try meditating, and they believe that resistance means they can’t meditate.

The key to meditation is recognizing that this is a practice. It’s something you do consistently, something you build on over time. One of the best ways to do that is to be consistent with the time that you carve out for meditation.

Two of the best times to meditate are right after waking up or before bed. Whichever time slot you decide on, try to stick to it as best as possible. However, if you intend on deepening and lengthening your practice in time, then choose a time that will suit that down the road.

3. Start Small

One excellent way to ensure you’re consistent, especially in the beginning when it’s the toughest, is to start small. Instead of attempting a 25 minute silent meditation, start with three to five minutes. 

Anybody can find three to five minutes to put aside in their day, and it’s a lot easier to sit still for that amount of time. This will also help you stay committed to your practice. In fact, a number of behavioral scientists believe that big goals are best accomplished in small steps. 

4. Be Kind

You’re not going to be perfect when you first start out. You likely never will be a perfect meditator, if such a thing even exists.

But like the thoughts and sensations that pass through your mind without judgement while you meditate, practice non-judgement with your practice. Realize that some days will be bad, and some days will be good, but you’ll only reap the benefits if you’re consistent with your practice regardless of those ups and down.

5. Don’t Try to Clear Your Mind

It’s a misconception that meditation and mindfulness are about clearing your mind. Instead, focus on your breath.

Your breath gives you a point to return to when your mind wanders. And your mind will wander… the idea is to redirect your attention back to your focus point (the breath) without judgement or criticism of yourself or that thought, emotion, or sensation.

Over time, your ability to identify when your mind is wandering into places that aren’t useful and return to a focus point will become stronger, and that’s the ultimate purpose of the practice.

More Helpful Tips

Meditation is a practice. It’s something you dedicate yourself to regularly. Along the way, you’re sure to have ups and down, but be kind, consistent, and methodical in your practice and you’ll start to notice the benefits in your everyday life.

And if you’re looking for other tips and resources that will improve the quality of your life, be sure to check our blog regularly for new content. 

About the author

Sheridan is a world traveler, women’s empowerment advocate, yogi, and Yoga Therapist. She supports women with hair loss to feel more self-acceptance, step into their true power, and radiate confidence. Sheridan supports women at various stages of their journey, who share one common goal – transforming their hair loss journey into a self-empowering, spiritual journey. 

Since losing her hair at 7 years old, Sheridan battled the ups and downs of hair loss for most of her life. Brought to the yoga mat by her own mental health afflictions, Sheridan was once unsure about what to do and where to go, completely disconnected from her reality and her body. Today she is motivated to assist others in moving past their own entrenched traumas and self-confidence issues through the practice of yoga. She accomplishes this through a deep understanding and constant study of the connection between mind and body and uniting the esoteric teachings of this ancient practice with valuable, evidence-based western sciences such as psychology.  

Sheridan has completed her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Certificate in Power Yoga and Healing Sequence and completed a certificate in Yoga Therapy & Yoga Psychology, all while building her women-centered non-profit in Medellin, Colombia. 

She now exclusively serves the hair-loss community, creating safe spaces for her community to dive deep into self-inquiry, reconcile with their bodies, and connect with a sense of grounded confidence. Her calm but energetically powerful teaching style creates a safe and loving space in which to grow and ultimately encourages a better relationship with your physical and spiritual bodies, greater awareness, and a profound sense of self-love. 

http://www.sheridanruth.com

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