For my entire life, one way that my anxiety and trauma has manifested is through a (seemingly unbreakable) nail-biting habit. If it’s something you’ve faced, you know the pain, sadness, shame and embarrassment that can come with a habit like this…and you and I don’t deserve to feel that way. I’m so excited to share how I finally stopped biting my nails (and how you can too – for good this time!)
First, I just need to pause to say I am so stinkin proud of you. Just by reading this, you’re declaring that you value your life and your hands, and you’re ready to make a meaningful change. I am so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to cheer you on. Please connect with me on social media (@soulcaresunday and @heyoliviareynolds) using #SoulCareMindfulMani and #ManiMantras throughout your nail growth journey.
Your hands do so much to hold, heal, and help those around you. To nourish and care for them is to show appreciation for the ways they support you and those you love. Even if your hands don’t look perfect, they deserve your attention and appreciation. Your hands keep you safe, stable, and connected to those around you, so let's show them some love!
As you get started, please take a moment to consider why it matters for you to break your nail-biting habit, and what success looks like for you. These will be unique to each of us, and it’s important to root ourselves in these thoughts when changing a life-long habit like this.
Your New Weekly Routine
The best way that I’ve found to keep momentum on this nail growth journey is with a bit of time set aside weekly for an at-home manicure (Side note: if it’s accessible to you, by all means, go to a salon!)
Meet Olive & June. I am not sponsored by them, I’m simply sharing my honest opinion of a system that’s made a huge difference in my anxious, nail-biting journey.
This woman-owned company is on a mission to make salon-quality manicures and pedicures accessible to everyone from the comfort of their own home. Even while I continued to bite my nails, I loved taking the time to buff, file, and paint my stubby little nails as a weekly self-care ritual. This ritual only gets more and more enjoyable as I watch my incredible nails heal and grow. Every week choose a cozy movie, podcast, or audiobook, and walk through each step of my manicure mindfully. It’s a little treat for myself and it forces me to slow down. After all, you can’t easily complete the rest of your to-do’s with wet fingernails!
Now for the Weekly Mindful Manicure Steps:
(Skim this for now, and revisit these steps in detail when you’re ready for your first weekly mani)
- After choosing your comfort show/book/podcast, gather your materials and set up your workspace. You will be here for a bit, so get comfy.
- Leave any current polish in place, and begin by shaping your nails to your desired (or “as good as it’s gonna get”) shape using nail clippers, then smooth the edges with a nail file. Now (speaking from experience) if you have basically no nail at all, swipe a nail file over the end of your nail a bit to stimulate growth and even out any uneven/sharp edges.
- Next you’ll use nail polish remover to clean any polish, dirt, and oils off your nails. Warning, this stings a bit if you’ve torn all your hangnails out or bitten your cuticles. But stick with it, and consider it a small nudge to avoid pulling on those before your next mani 😅
- Now that your nails are ready, we get to choose, and apply, our base, color, and top-coats (or any of the three that feels most accessible to you now). I like using the ridge-filler base coat from Olive & June because I have some vertical ridges in my nails from nutrient deficiencies.
- Choose a color that feels good. I often chose neutral colors at the beginning because it drew less attention to my still-healing short lil nails. I find it easiest to paint 2-3 super thin layers of color, being sure to pause between each coat to clean up the edges with a brush dipped in nail polish remover (more on that soon) and give a few full minutes to let each thin layer dry before starting the next.
- Finish with your preferred glossy- or matte-finish top coat, then give that tons of time to dry…I say “tons” of time because there’s nothing quite like the disappointment of taking the time to finish a beautiful manicure, only to instantly wreck it by denting or chipping your polish because you jumped too quickly back into your to-dos. Consider this your permission slip to slow down and savor this time for yourself.
- For daily maintenance, I recommend a moisturizing hand cream, and a cuticle serum. Fun fact, moisturized cuticles are much less tempting to bite, pick, and peel. While you apply the cream and serum to your hands, take a moment to massage them. Express gratitude for each finger and its ability to move, touch, and sense.
Applying press-on nails helped block access to my nails during the beginning of my nail growth journey. My favorites are (of course) Olive & June’s Short or Extra Short length “Instant Mani” press-ons. If you find press-ons supportive for you as well, I've included space in my “Stop Biting Your Nails” printable guide to record the size of press-on nails that fit best on your beautiful nails.
Mistakes, Mantras, and Materials
I am a human. You too? Cool. So that means we are both going to make mistakes. If I can stress one piece of advice for the moments you slip up: have some self-compassion. You deserve gentleness while you are learning something new.
As for some practical manicure advice: the secret to a salon-quality manicure is not the perfect steady hand…it’s a clean up brush! The clean up brush reminds us that it’s ok to be human and make mistakes. Simply dip a small paint brush into nail polish remover and use it to clean up your nail’s edges between polish coats.
While I love an alliteration, I did not create the #ManiMantras simply because they sound cool. I created them because I learned in (hours and hours of) therapy that our words hold incredible power. By speaking life and love over our hands, we are actually helping form new pathways in our brain while healing our nail-biting habit. Cool, right?!
Here are some of my favorite Soul Care “Mani Mantras”:
- I deserve gentleness and compassion while I am learning
- My hands deserve to be cared for, even when they don't look perfect
- I have the power to overcome and heal this habit
- It is okay to make mistakes (that's why we have the clean up brush)
- Biting and picking at my nails is morally-neutral, it does not make me a bad human.
It’s no secret that I love the Olive & June manicure systems. Feel free to click here to save 20% when you grab one for yourself (including press-on systems!) *disclaimer: if you use this link to save on your first system, I get a free polish – thanks, bestie!
While we’re getting you equipped for your nail growth journey, I want to encourage you to grab my “Stop Biting Your Nails” printable guide to help you revisit these tips to finally heal your nail-biting habit. Just for you (taking the time to read this whole dang blog) here’s a coupon to save 50% – use code MANIMANTRAS while checking out on Etsy.
It’s such an honor that you would take time out of your day to soak in some of my tips for living a peaceful and resilient life. Til next week, stay happy, stay healthy and, most importantly, be kind to yourself and to each other.