Stop Biting Your Nails Now Forever!
Do you have the habit of biting your nails or picking at your cuticles? If so, you are not alone. Many people do this out of nervousness or stress, boredom, because they don’t like the rough edges of their nails or cuticles, or other reasons.
If you would like to stop this habit the first step is to figure out when you are most often engaging in the habit and what you are feeling at that moment. For example, if you find that you are most likely to engage in this habit while driving out of a stressful commute, consider wearing driving gloves and doing something relaxing during your commute, like listening to your favorite cd, book on tape, etc… If you bite your nails while watching television, consider taking up a habit that keeps your hands busy, such as knitting. The best way to determine when and why you are engaging in this habit is to keep a log for at least a week prior to trying to change your habit. Understanding what your behavior is in reaction to is half the battle.
You may find that you often don’t realize when you are engaging in this habit. If this is the case, a bitter-tasting nail polish may help you to recognize when you bite your nails. Some women find that putting a dark nail polish on their nails helps them to draw attention to their habit when their fingers wander toward their mouth. Also, asking a trusted significant other or friend that you spend most of your day with to help you recognize your habit can help.
Once you know when you are likely to bite your nails (your triggers), set goals for yourself with specific rewards. For example, “If I bite my nails fewer than 5 times within the next seven days (and stop myself when I taste the bitter polish), I will get a pedicure at the end of the week.” Going “cold turkey,” or telling yourself that you have to stop entirely is setting yourself up for failure. Set small achievable goals that you alter each week.
If you find that you return to spending a day, week, or any period of time biting your nails, reflect on what was going on during that period of time in your life. Were you under a lot of pressure at work? These relapses are not setbacks. Rather they are learning opportunities. When you know what triggered you to return to this behavior, you can plan ahead to prevent it from occurring again. And, pat yourself on the back because you have not given up! You probably have had this habit for a very long period of time – maybe all of your life. You are not going to change it overnight. It will take some reflective thought and conscious work.
Ultimately, to stop biting your nails, recognizing your triggers and finding replacements is critical. Set small goals and reward yourself when you achieve them. Know that if you go back to biting your nails or cuticles, you can re-evaluate why you went back and continue the process to learn from it.