Nail biting is not a fun habit to have. It’s painful, embarrassing, it makes your nails and fingers look terrible. Then, of course, there’s the fact that you’re ingesting every filthy thing your hands have come into contact with, and opening yourself up to the possibility of getting sick. It’s okay though! You can quit this habit and regain beautiful nails and the confidence that comes along with it.
So, how are you going to stop? It won’t be easy, but you can do it. It’s probably not going to happen overnight, but with patience and a commitment to change, you can stop. Here are a few strategies that may work for you.
Only Bite When You Really Need To
This sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Of course, if you didn’t feel you needed to, you wouldn’t be biting! But before you shake your head and dismiss the idea, think about this – in Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the things an alcoholic first learns is that it’s “one day at a time.” It’s “Just for today, I won’t drink.” The follow-up to that is, “If I still feel I need to, I can always drink tomorrow.” You can apply this same principle to your nail biting. When the urge hits, just tell yourself, “Not for now. If I still feel the need to bite in ten minutes, I can do it.”
If you do end up biting, remember that it doesn’t make you a bad person. And if you use this method, you may find that the urge passes. Most smokers say that if they don’t give into the urge for a cigarette, the desire for one will usually pass in about ten minutes. It’s the same with nail biting – all you have to do is try to get through ten minutes at a time. You’ll probably find that the more often you just wait, the longer the intervals between the urges to bite will be.
Use Your Hands
No, not for biting! What you’re trying to do here is find a use for your hands that doesn’t involve chewing your nails. For instance, you might try making a fist. Pretty hard to bite your nails when they’re all curled up in the palm of your hand, isn’t it? Or you could use a stress ball – again, the position of your fingers makes it difficult to bite when you’re holding something in your hand.
“But that’s going to look ridiculous!” you’re saying. And yes, it will. People might even ask you what happened to your fingers. Just tell them you were attacked by piranhas, or tell them to mind their own business, whichever works best for you.
The thing is, having Band-Aids on your fingertips doesn’t really look any more absurd than biting your nails. Of course, the Band-Aid solution is just (dare we say it?) a Band-Aid solution. It’s not really going to stop you from biting if you’re determined to do so. But what it will do is slow you down a bit, and make you think about what you’re putting in your mouth. If you’re biting without even really thinking about it, once that plastic hits your mouth, you’re going to get a real, physical reminder of what you’re about to do.
To be completely honest, this isn’t going to work for the hard-core biter. There are all kinds of products out there that you can paint on your nails that taste really nasty, and the idea is that you won’t want to put something that tastes that revolting in your mouth. A lot of confirmed nail-biters, though, report that they’ve gotten used to the taste.
You could try wearing false nails. You definitely won’t get the same level of satisfaction from chewing them, even assuming that you can – they’re pretty tough. This is really just a short-term measure, though, and not necessarily the best. If you’re wearing full-cover nails, they will begin to destroy your nail bed. They can even cause fungal growth, and if that happens, your nails are going to look even worse than they do with the biting. Nail art pens could help you make even prettier covers for your nails!
You could wear gloves. If you’re the kind of person who likes making their own fashion statement, this could actually work fairly well. If you prefer to follow the trends, though, you should know that no one has worn gloves other than in cold weather since your great-granny’s day. It’s the same idea as with the Band-Aids – you put your fingers to your mouth, and you go “Hey, that’s not my fingernail!” You’ve gotten your reminder, and if you’re still determined to bite, you just take the gloves off.
Make a Commitment
This is hard. If you’re going to quit biting your nails, you have to be really committed. It’s your promise to yourself, so you have to take it every bit as seriously as if you were swearing on a stack of Bibles. State it firmly to yourself: “I will not bite.” Tell your significant other, your parents, and your friends, “I am not going to bite my nails anymore.” Embroider it on a pillow. Do whatever it takes to make this a very real promise.
Just STOP. Sure, that sounds simplistic, but if you consider this a sacred promise, one that cannot be broken, you’re probably better than halfway to beating the problem.
Know What Makes You Bite
What’s causing you to bite? Are you bored, stressed, depressed, or anxious? Take note of your mood when you feel like biting. If you take stock of your emotions before you start biting, eventually you’ll learn what your triggers are. Then, you avoid them, or take other measures to deal with them. Bored? Go for a walk. Read a book. Surf the Internet – it’s hard to bite when you’re keyboarding. Stressed or anxious? Make yourself some herbal tea, do some yoga, or phone a friend. If you’re feeling down, watch a funny movie or get the gang together for a few drinks and some companionship. Do whatever it takes to avoid biting.
Try to always be aware of what you’re doing. When you’re zoned out, it’s easy to pick at yourself or bite your nails. So always be present, and focused. Don’t let your mind wander off into all kinds of different areas. If you’re in the moment, and fully aware of what you’re doing, you won’t bite out of habit – it will actually require a conscious decision to bring your fingers to your mouth.
If you find yourself zoning out, one trick you can use is putting a rubber band around your wrist. When you find that your fingers are heading toward your mouth, snap the band. It brings your attention back to what you’re doing. Once you realize what you’re about to do, tell yourself, “I’m not going to bite my nails just now,” and then do something else.
Keep a Nail File Handy
Much of the time, people bite their nails because they see an imperfection – there’s a chip, an uneven edge, or a little too much white showing, and you just feel this overwhelming urge to fix it. If you have a nail file close by, you don’t have to bite. You can just use the file to fix the imperfection. Essentially, you’re replacing a bad habit with a good one.
This goes back to that commitment you made to yourself – the promise that you shared with your friends and family. Ask for their assistance. When you’re together, you want them to tell you when they see you beginning to bite. If you’re out in public and don’t want the embarrassment of them telling you in front of other people, work out a signal or a special word that no one else will notice, but that will give you a heads-up as to what you’re about to do.
Get a Manicure
You can do this by visiting a salon, or you can give yourself a manicure at home. The idea is that if you’ve just shelled out serious cash for a salon manicure, you’ll be less inclined to ruin it. And if you’ve spent a couple of hours at home making your nails look good, you won’t want to undo all your hard work. This is also a great opportunity to begin nail repair on those damaged nails.
Make an Investment in Yourself
The Nail Biter’s Toolkit is a great resource for people who’ve tried over and over to stop biting their nails, but can’t seem to manage it. It contains the tools and techniques you need to stop biting your nails once and for all, and it comes with a full money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied. You have nothing to lose but the habit you’ve been trying desperately to break. Also, if you invest in yourself you are more likely to hold yourself accountable to breaking your habit. In that way, buying the course is in itself an accountability measurement for you to stop nail biting.
Be Good to Yourself
Finally, keep in mind that you didn’t develop this habit overnight, and you’re not going to break it overnight. You’ll possibly slip. When you do, forgive yourself and move on. You can do it!