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The most obvious and immediate form of stress that can afflict your claws comes from physical injury. Accidentally bumping, banging, chipping or crushing your nails immediately puts them into panic mode. Despite our best efforts, sometimes physical nail stress is inevitable. The degree of this stress can be minor (a bent nail or bruised skin under the nail) or major (full split, snap or a bruise that causes the whole nail to fall off **cringe**).
Crying, exhaustion and general dismay: all of these are symptoms that probably come to mind when you think of emotional stress. A more subtle symptom, the health of your nails can actually be affected by your emotions! Now we're not talking one bad Monday and all 10 of your nails snap off (chill). We're talking about a major life event that wreaks serious havoc on your brain and body. Just as your hair may start falling out (literally the worst) after a traumatic time, your nails can also show physical symptoms of your stress.
The big kahuna. Chronic stress is a recipe for disaster for your physical health. When your body is put into overdrive for an extended period of time (due to illness or emotional trauma) it enters stress-induced fight or flight mode, meaning it begins to behave as though it's being attacked. Your sympathetic nervous system basically panics and begins to muck around with your nutrient absorption and physical wellness. Chronic stress can cause your nails to stay weak, brittle and full of unsightly ridges. **sigh**
Basically synonymous with a nervous Nelly, nail biting is a crystal clear sign of stress. Whether it's a short term habit or long term problem, biting is a stress-induced assault on your nails. Some nail biters are so brutal that they can actually cause damage to the cuticle, leaving the area open to irritation and infection. Not to mention all the yucky bacteria that lives within your mouth - not something you want getting under your skin!
When you picture pretty nails, odds are your mental image isn't rocking any ridges. Horizontal lines (aka nail ridges) can sometimes show up on the surface of natural nails. What's the culprit? You guessed it - stress! When your body is in a stressed-out state you may begin to suffer from vitamin deficiencies, which can lead to nail ridges. Even though you've been chugging kale smoothies, you might be too worked up to properly absorb all the nutrients you're putting into your tank.
P.S - Want to learn more about preventing pesky ridges? See our previous post for everything you need to know about nail ridges!
Peeling, Brittle Nails
Ever looked at a mate's long nails and thought, "yah not in a million years could mine get like that without peeling." If you've noticed your nails becoming gradually weaker and even peeling in layers, it might be your body's way of telling you to stop stressing. Poor nail texture can be a telling sign that your body isn't delivering the nutrients your nails need to thrive.
Inhale, now exhale. Voila, perfect nails! Ok maybe not, BUT taking a chill pill is seriously the best prescription to prevent stress from killing your nails. Developing a self-care routine can make your mind (and body) a lot more resilient when troubling times come knocking. Take time to treat yourself to the activities and hobbies you enjoy. Set aside "you time" to check in and temporarily tune out from the nonstop world we live in.
Unfortunately, changing your mind doesn't happen overnight. Once you've committed to prioritizing your wellbeing, the physical benefits may take time to come into effect. Much like hair, nails grow gradually and therefore may reflect a physical condition you were in months prior. Therefore, it may take a few months of de-stressing for your changes to become visible. In the meantime, you can help heal the damage stress has caused your nails by rocking a restorative nail treatment.