Nail biting is like alcohol; a few sips and well you’re in. You’re trapped and getting rid of the habit can be more difficult than passing a pathetically tough exam. It usually starts when you’re a child; you get habitual then and the habit grows right along with you. You don’t even know the when and how and what and you just put your fingers in your mouth and off go your teeth; chop, chop, chop!
It can be excruciating for some; while many people just bite their nails enough for their hands to look like that of a baby, others go into grizzly bear mode and trim their nails, the skin surrounding it and mutilate their hands to ugliness! Your elders can shoo your hand away from your mouth all they want, they can constantly nag you to stop and all, but it doesn’t really work.
This habit is unbelievable; you’re addicted, and it often seems like there is no way out. However, nail biting has often a reason backing it. Some folks bite and bite because they find themselves bored time and again and they just don’t know how to relax. Others do it when they find themselves under too much pressure or stress. Yet others might have an underlying psychological or emotional cause.
Because nail biting is often not an action but a reaction to the situation you’re put in when you don’t want to be in it. It is a sign of nervousness and anxiety. At some particular stage, you will find yourself overly conscious of the appearance of your hands and want to get rid of the habit. Because no one likes to give away the fact that there’s something troubling them.
And well, it’s embarrassing. Nails bitten down to bits is unhygienic and looks gross. That said, while you might think there’s no stopping, no way to get rid of the problem, here’s how you can start and maybe even succeed.
This might sound annoying and you might be thinking “no way, that advice sucks!” but if you don’t tell yourself to stop, if you don’t chastise yourself again and again about it, you might never be able to start with the journey of leaving nail-biting behind. Imagine a scenario where someone notices your hands and feel how weird it would look. Be self-conscious, it will eventually help.
Also, cook up an imagination (which pretty sure happens in real life often anyway) where you bite your nails in public. What do other people think of you when you do that? It’s insulting; you look like a maniac. Some will be scared, and others would find your condition either laughable or tragic. You don’t want any of those vibes.
So how do you exactly prevent your teeth from impulsively peeling off your nails? There are two things you can do; either you can put garlic on your nails or clear unpleasant tasting nail paint. You can get your hands on either of the two easily and apply your remedy. Every time you raise your fingers to your mouth, you’d taste that ugh taste and drop immediately.
After that, you can remind your brain that you were not supposed to do that. If you don’t even catch yourself doing it, try to set reminders. Wear a ring that keeps you aware, a band, or something like that. Some people even prefer applying nail paint as a reminder.
Know Your Triggers
Like discussed above, everyone has their triggers, you just need to identify yours. If you bite out of boredom, try to stay calm and busy yourself with the things you enjoy doing. If its anxiety or worries, tensions that you can’t get away from, ready a mantra for yourself and repeat it in your head every time you’re attracted to biting your nails. Try to confront your problems.
If the culprit is pressure, whether it is at home, work, or school, just try to take a few minutes when you find yourself too stressed and breathe. Yoga might help. Once you’ve regained your composure remind yourself of your mission once again. Quotes might also help. Because sometimes help comes from mere words.
Do Something Else
Since the urge is unavoidably real and you just can’t stay away from it, after all the habit has years backing it, try developing another habit. Most people go for chewing gum. When your mouth is busy munching on something then you might be able to combat the insistent urge of chopping off your nails. Similarly, if there’s something else that you think you can do to avoid the habit, go for it.
Is nothing working? Then fake it till you make it. Avoid nail biting by wearing fake nails and painting them beautifully to a) motivate yourself, b) keep your real nails hidden. This can be pretty helpful and help you to finally eliminate this dreadful habit from your life. Fake nails are thicker, so you wouldn’t be able to bite them. They last long too, so meanwhile your real nails will have sufficient time to grow underneath.
Self-care helps. Once, you notice the progress, you’ll be encouraged to continue on. Even if you fail quite a few times, manicures will help keep you motivated, help your nails grow and that also beautifully. Maintain the same size and shape. Give yourself weekly manicures at home. And also go for salon manicures once a month.
Tell yourself how mortifying it would be to get a manicure at a parlor, without nails to begin with. Grow your nails, even if just a little and get used to weekly home manicures and monthly professional ones. You might as well keep a filer in your pocket or purse and take it out every time, you feel like munching on your nails.
Ask For Help
Nail picking is socially and universally unacceptable. Those who do not bite their nails can never understand the struggle. And while it may make you feel ashamed, you can always ask for help. You can ask your close circle to point out and tell you to stop when you start shredding your nails unknowingly. Someone you hang out with a lot. Because it’s better someone you like stops you then someone else who doesn’t have a right, points it out.
Last but not the least, be patient. Often times, you can put your heart, mind, soul into something and it still doesn’t work out. That doesn’t just happen at jobs and in relationships, that happens at every stage, every phase. And as an adamant nail picker who really, really wants to stop shredding her nails, you might fail one too many times.
It will hurt. You’ll stop biting nails, they’ll grow beautifully, your dream will come true and then something might go wrong (for example; life. It has quite a knack for knocking you down) You might come to the conclusion that all that effort was for nothing.
But please, restart the journey. Keep going, there is light at the end of the tunnel and one day soon, you might leave the habit behind for good. No matter how many times it defeats you at your game, you can one day win.