Why Stress Makes Us Pick Our Nails + Collagen Powder To Help Support Growth*

mbg Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor
Alexandra Engler is the Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department.
Why We Pick Our Nails + Collagen Powder To Help Support Growth

A common complaint I'm hearing among many friends and acquaintances goes as follows: I simply can't stop picking my nails. Now, what they mean "picking my nails" can range from chewing on tips to pulling stray cuticles. And for many I've spoken to, it's an old habit they thought they'd kicked—until, well, everything that's been going on. Not to mention, for those who would regularly visit a salon to buff, trim, and tend to nails, keeping fingers in shape is proving to be a struggle. 

If your tips are a bit more haggard than usual, it's completely understandable: Stress, boredom, and anxiety all make for bad habits. Here, we explain what exactly is going on—and what to do about it.   

Why you may find yourself picking at your nails more lately. 

It should, really, come as no surprise. Picking at your nails is actually a very common issue that comes with stress or anxiety (which, ahem, we all may have a touch more lately than normal). It also comes hand-in-hand with boredom, which you may find yourself feeling given common entertainment entities are not available to us. 

In fact, "one theory is that picking is a self-regulating behavior—it stimulates us when we are bored or sedentary (watching TV, at the computer, talking on the phone) and calms us when we are overstimulated (whether by negative emotions or stress or positive excitement)," Jennifer Raikes, executive director of the TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors, once told mbg about cuticle picking.

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What can you do about it?

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There are several habits to adopt if you want to limit skin picking, starting with mental health checks. This is especially true if you know that yours are triggered by stress and anxiety: Practice breathing exercises or meditation when you start to feel overwhelmed. If yours, you find, stems from boredom, get moving, for example, by doing a short yoga flow or stretch. 

And yet? Sometimes picking happens to the best of us, despite our attempts to keep ourselves busy. So to better protect the strength of your nails and cuticles long term (so they are not damaged by a bout of frisky fingers), you should start internally. mindbodygreen's grass-fed collagen+ can help tend to nail brittleness and damage through its hydrolyzed collagen peptides and biotin, a form of vitamin B.* 

Collagen powders have been shown to have beneficial effects for the hair, skin, and nails due to the amino acid profile.* Amino acids are the building blocks of keratin, which is what makes up our nails (as well as hair and top layer of our skin). By supplying your body with said amino acids, theoretically, you'll help your body better enhance nail growth.* 

Biotin, too, has several beneficial properties for nails.* In fact, brittle, rigid nails are another common complaint of those with vitamin deficiencies, especially vitamin B deficiencies. Biotin has been shown to support thickness and firmness of nails in several human studies.* One moderate-size human study found that those who took biotin supplements had 25% thicker nailbeds than the placebo group.*

The takeaway.

If you're one to pick your nails, that's OK—especially now, given the increased levels of anxiety and free time. We all have coping mechanisms, some more pesky than others. Do try to find healthier ways to ease stress, be it by mental health tricks or moving your body. But if you want to be proactive about your nail health and recovery, you'll also want to supplement with a nail-healthy collagen powder. 

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