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How nail art saved my mental health: Bridgend nail tech opens up about her battle

By Emma Hobday | 22 October 2021 | Feature, Health & wellbeing, Tech Talk

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Dani Bailey of Broadlands, Bridgend, has suffered with anxiety and depression since she was a teenager. She has always managed it relatively well through exercise, which came naturally to her in her previous role as a personal trainer, but a pitfall in 2018 saw some struggles present themselves.

dani bailey“I started doing nails in July 2019. I stopped working for a couple of years to have children, and unfortunately suffered a spinal injury in 2018, which prevented me going back to my job of being a PT,” explains Dani. She chose nails as her new career, as she had always admired the craft.

Dani started her business in August 2019, but just when it started getting some traction, the devastation of lockdown came into force.

“I found it incredibly hard,” she admits, “Staying at home with my husband and children all day, who were four and two at the time, and having to entertain, cook and clean so often really messed with my mental health.”

Dani took it upon herself to join the OPI Facebook group, where she saw that it was doing daily nail art competitions based on the names of OPI’s most famous shades, and decided to give it a go herself, although she had never done nail art before.

“It was addictive!” smiles Dani. “I wasn’t too good at it to begin with, but it made me feel so good and while I was doing it, it made me forget about everything else.”

The nail tech started doing the Scratch weekly challenges too, which launched during lockdown, and joined many nail courses and other challenges online. She won April’s Scratch Snap competition and came second in the 2020 OPI UK & I Nail Artist of the Year TrendVision Award, before scooping first place in the 2021 heat.

“I went from feeling extremely down and having dark thoughts, to looking forward to the next nail challenge,” Dani reveals. “To this day, if I have a bad day, or I’m feeling overwhelmed, I go straight to my nail desk. My clients always say that I produce my best work when I’m not well, so I think I found the outlet for my emotions.”

The talented nail tech thinks that people don’t talk about mental health enough – nail tech or not. “There is still a stigma about it all, and it saddens me,” she comments. However, she ensures to talk openly and freely to her clients about her experiences with mental health, which she has found highly beneficial. “It’s been amazing, so many have opened up to me about thoughts, feelings and diagnoses,” she says.

Dani has also opened up on her social media about her past experiences with suicidal thoughts and self harm, with the overall response being overwhelmingly positive, supportive and understanding.

“My humble advice to techs who might feel the same way is to reach out! Ask for help and don’t be embarrassed. You wouldn’t be embarrassed if you had back pain, diabetes, or even Covid-19. Depression is an illness, it’s out of your control, and it needs attention – it won’t just disappear if you ignore it,” she advises.

Dani’s final word of advice is to find an outlet. “Mine went from exercising heavily to doing nail art. There will be something out there that helps focus your mind and dial down the noise; like your own type of meditation.”

Follow Dani on Instagram and Facebook.