Nail biting is a habit that starts out during childhood and often continues into adolescence before easing out in adults. It is an extremely unpleasant activity that usually has a negative impact on a person’s appearance. Biting nails regularly can cause severe damage to the nails. Bacteria can easily be transferred between the mouth and the fingers and infections can grow under the nails. In young children, it can also affect the gums and cause weakness in the teeth and poor alignment. Therefore it is important to kick the habit before it becomes a problem. In our article you’ll learn some iportant techniques on how to stop biting nails.
Why do I Bite My Nails?
Why does anyone bite their nails? Mostly it is the result of either stress or boredom. If there’s a class lecture that’s boring, you may tune your mind out and start chewing your nails as an alternative way to keep yourself engaged. You may also bite your nails if you are going through an emotional turmoil or if you’re feeling lonely.
Casual biting of the nails can be treated using self help techniques, but when it is persistent to the point of causing you bodily harm, it can be a symptom of something more serious such as a psychological condition like obsessive-compulsive disorder(OCD). Just as people with OCD keep repeatedly checking things or arranging things in symmetry, they may also bite their nails as part of the compulsive behavior. Children with psychiatric disorders such as separation anxiety disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may also be nail biters.
10 Effective Tips on How to Stop Biting Nails
Most children eventually grow out of the nail biting habit. However, teens and adults may find it a lot harder to give up the habit. For those who are struggling to deal with the problem, here are some effective and proven techniques on how to stop biting your nails.
1. Use Artificial Nails
If you’re having trouble kicking the nail biting habit, take advantage of the many fake nails available in the market. Artificial nails are available as Acrylics, Gels, and Silks and if you get it done from a professional salon, you can be sure they are safe and infection-free. Fake nails are rather awkward to chew as well, so your mind will eventually give up on it.
2. Coat Your Nails
There are many products in the market that are made from vegetable matter (such as cayenne pepper extracts) that are harmless and can be applied on the nails. You can coat your nails with the bitter solution and startle your way out of kicking the habit.
3. Try Relaxation Techniques
People often bite their nails when they find themselves in a stressful situation. If this sounds familiar to you, try relaxation techniques such as yoga, mindfulness meditation and deep breathing exercises, which should help you relax and beat stress and you consequently get you chew your fingernails less.
4. Join a Support Group
Although nail biting is not a serious disorder, you can still find self help groups and online communities such as the one on DailyStrength who offer support for people who have an impulse to bite their nails and can’t stop it.
5. Visualize Your Appearance
Personal appearance is very important to us. Imagine how you would look in front of society if your nails and cuticles looked shabby. You’d have to keep hiding them in your pockets or keep them folded. Instead visualize how people would react if you had beautifully manicured fingers and healthy looking nails. This positive visual imagery will encourage you to give up the habit.
6. Keep Your Nails Well Groomed
Get yourself an expensive manicure. The next time your nails touch your teeth, you will remember how much you paid for it and instantly move your fingers away. Money can be a powerful deterrent. If that doesn’t work, give yourself a manicure every week. Clip your nails and smooth them out with a file, so you don’t have anything to chew on during the week. Soak your nails in warm water and rub a lotion or cuticle cream to keep it shiny and nice. You can also accessorize your nails with jewelry, patterns and textures for an extra good look and feel. You will now loathe to chew on your perfectly manicured fingers!
7. Try Distraction Techniques
Sometimes you can be so restless that you find you need to do something with your hands and end up nail chewing. In such situations, get yourself a stress ball and squeeze it in the palm of your hand. If you cannot find one, try other distraction techniques such as doodling or drawing a sketch.
8. Keep a Journal
You may think that nail biting is simply an absent minded activity, but every time you become aware that you are biting your nails, examine under what situations you are doing it. Maintain a journal and record where you are and what you were doing when you started biting your nails. If you look into your journal and see a pattern of nail biting behavior, you can take constructive steps to eliminate the problem.
9. Be Mindful of the Present
Often, you tend to bite your nails when you are not mindful of the present. If you find yourself in a boring situation your hands will automatically head to your mouth. Wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap on it to bring you back to the present. When you notice your environment and that people are watching you, you will stop doing it.
10. Seek Treatment
If all these self help techniques fail and you still find yourself stressed out and anxious, it could be signs of a more serious psychological problem. Talk to your doctor or meet a mental health professional for counseling.
We hope you found these tips on how to stop biting nails helpful in overcoming the nasty habit.