Confession time: It may be silly, but the way my hair is behaving (or misbehaving) can set my day on a path of unnecessary self-consciousness or undue wasted energy.

Vanity? Obsession? Call it what you will. I'm not alone, though. For many of us, hair is part of self-identity. It can affect the outward message of confidence, sexuality, age generation, professionalism, and personal grooming we project. That's a big burden for those follicles to bear.

Hair has no muscles, blood, oil supply, or nerves of its own, but it grows from follicles which do have all of the above. Interestingly, the hair growth that arises from your follicles can be a telltale sign of your body's overall condition. Physical illness, deficiencies, and neglect can be reflected in your hair.

Address those problems, and you can turn bad hair days around. It will take some patience to apply these 5 tips, but it's worth the effort.

1) Get to the root of thinning hair.

Thinning has many causes. More than one may be the culprit if you are finding more hair in your brush lately. Some hair loss--50-100 strands per day--is perfectly normal. Some slightly less common, but equally normal, conditions can also result in hair loss. Hormonal imbalances from pregnancy, childbirth, genetic tendencies, or an estrogen drop during menopause are a few.

Illness, chemotherapy, trauma, or certain medications can be precursors of more serious hair loss or alopecia. For these conditions, hair loss tends to be temporary. The passage of stress-free, health-boosting time is the best treatment. However, be aware that a sudden or severe hair loss can be an indication of a medical condition that requires treatment by a qualified health practitioner. Low thyroid levels, diabetes, or iron deficiency, for example, can all result in hair loss.

2) "Bon appetit" and fortify your follicles.

What you eat affects your health--and your hair. Healthful nutrients support hair growth. Try supplementation, or, better, add these through good diet.
- Essential fatty acids: walnuts, flaxseeds, fish, and avocado
- Vitamin C (needed to produce collagen, a structural component): citrus fruits, strawberries, and red peppers
- B vitamins, especially biotin: nuts, brown rice, and oats
- Iron (supports development of keratin, which protects the outer cuticle of hair): green leafy vegetables, cashews, berries, lean meat, blackstrap molasses, and egg whites
- Zinc: pumpkin seeds, pecans, fresh oysters, Brazil nuts, and eggs

And don't forget water. Poor hydration can cause lifeless, brittle, dry hair.

3) Treat your hair with TLC.

Hair experts agree that how we handle our locks--even when it's healthy--can lead to breakage and dryness. Overprocessing with chemical color, straightening, or styling products can damage the protective cuticle of the individual hair shaft and the scalp. Extensions, weaves, pulling hair back tightly in elastics, and excessively heated tools all take a toll. Conditioning plus avoiding the sun and harsh hair-product ingredients such as sulfates and alcohol will make a positive difference in your hair.

4) Ease hair damage with natural do-at-home treatments.

Is your hair already showing signs of mistreatment? A few simple tricks can make even dry, damaged hair more manageable and strong. Start by increasing circulation to the living tissue, your scalp. Add a few drops of rosemary essential oil to your shampoo, and massage your scalp. Home beauty experts swear by avocado for repairing damage and smoothing unruly hair. Mash half an avocado and massage into clean, damp hair. Leave in for 15 minutes before rinsing. Or, slather a mix of coconut oil, egg yolks, honey, and mayonnaise on your hair and cover with a warm towel for a special hydrating treat.

5) SOS for Stress, the most common culprit behind hair issues.

Stress--the everyday kind and the sudden emergency variety--is often the reason behind weakness, low energy, and immune dysfunction. It also can promote dull hair that breaks easily. Worse, hair loss can result from excess cortisol, the "fight or flight" chemical, that floods your body with continued stress. Losing hair may have a snowball effect: It tends to trigger a dip in self-confidence, which leads to more stress.

Work pressure, family ups and downs, or even crash diets can be stress makers. Calm your mind and body. De-stressing benefits all aspects of your wellbeing, including your hair. Consider yoga, acupuncture, meditation, or just me-time.

While you may need to seek medical attention to rule out a few causes of hair loss, these suggestions--along with time--may do the trick for the rest. Here's to wishing you--and me--the best hair days moving forward!

Author's Bio: 

Roberta Roberts Mittman, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., M.S., is a nutritional and lifestyle consultant, holistic mindset mentor, and nationally board-certified acupuncturist. Using natural, drug-free techniques, Roberta opens the door to complete mind-body health. Roberta's goal is not only to relieve patients' illness and discomfort, but to help them set realistic goals for physical and mental preventative care and overall wellness. Roberta believes in empowering individuals to be their own best healers.