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How to tackle stressful work situations as a nail tech

By Guest Writer | 05 April 2022 | Expert Advice, Feature

Stress Mental Health Breathe

Session nailist, Stephanie Staunton, reveals how to overcome and tackle challenges that face a number of nail pros…

We all know that life gets tough sometimes and problems can seem rife, so I want to share some of the most stressful situations I encounter as a session tech – and how I try to overcome them.

Challenge: traffic

Despite leaving in good time for a shoot or appointment, traffic can halt play – and I often find myself in a gridlock on the M25.

Solution: the Waze app

This helps track traffic and find quicker routes to the desired destination. You can track the best time to leave the evening before you need to, and I then leave 30 minutes or so earlier just in case there’s a problem on the road.

Solution: a hairband/elastic band

This works similarly to a stress ball but isn’t a bulky item to hold while in slow moving traffic. I have one affixed around the gear stick of my car and ping it when stressed to keep me calm.

Solution: stress spray

One or two spritzes in the car before setting out can really help.

Challenge: running late

This happens to everyone from time to time and can often be due to circumstances beyond our control. Often, on big shoots, being 15 minutes late doesn’t have a huge impact on timings – but it’s important to apologise and get the job done to the best of your ability, as soon as is required.

It’s a different story when running late for a photo shoot where hands are the key focus. I work out of my kit bag on most jobs to save set up time and assure the client it takes me 10 minutes to do the nails. I was once an hour late due to a huge traffic accident and I did the nails on a job in seven minutes. The company still hires me regularly, so an apology and speed – and understanding by the client – can go a long way. Don’t appear too flustered when arriving late, as it creates a chaotic vibe on set.

Solution: parking

It’s handy to check parking options the night before a job so that you don’t waste time looking for spaces – particularly if running late. I use Parkopedia and the Around Me apps. Try to pre-book.

Solution: contact numbers

I always make a note of the phone numbers of the production team members so that if I do get stuck in traffic, I can safely call them via Bluetooth in my car.

Solution: a map, pen and paper

Write down the address of the job before you go and take a map. If your phone runs out of battery or breaks then you’ll be better equipped to find your destination.

Challenge: illness

Physical health and mental health are very different things. If I have a cold, I will still attempt to work and wear a mask and gloves while doing the treatment. Thankfully I’ve avoided being ill for quite a long time now, but mental health sufferers need time out. With a cold, I may feel awful but can remain positive and persevere, but with mental health issues, the enthusiasm isn’t often present and I can get emotional.

I find that more people can process the idea of a cold and be sympathetic than they can the idea of a breakdown, episode or an attack. So be kind, be real, arrange cover (or give as much notice as possible) and take the time off if you are suffering. Try to make things work for the client. The majority of mine came back to me after I took time off for mental health reasons and I even gained a few more through speaking up about the issues.

I had to call an ambulance at three ‘o’ clock one morning as I was having a severe asthma attack. The paramedics gave me three nebulisers and the effects only lasted seven to 10 minutes. They wanted to take me to A&E immediately but I had to do Scarlett Johansson’s nails for a film, and it was my second to last day on the three or four-month contract. The paramedics said they understood that if I didn’t do this job it could be detrimental and panic me further, so they gave me steroids and nebulisers. I drove to the job, started at 5.30am, finished at 8am and drove straight to the hospital where I began my recovery. I love my job and if I can avoid letting people down, I will.

Follow Stephanie on Instagram.