We all have bad habits we’re not proud of, whether it’s finger tapping, foot jiggling or knuckle cracking. While most habits are relatively harmless (aside from being potentially annoying to others), nail biting can cause serious damage. The good news: There are some easy ways to kick the behavior to the curb. Read on to learn more about nail biting and how to nip (pun intended) the habit in the bud for good.
Why You Do It: For many men and women, nail biting is a way to relieve stress or anxiety. Others simply develop the habit out of boredom. According to the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, nail biting is more than just a nervous crutch. This type of pathological grooming is actually a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Other scientists will argue that this type of behavior is attributed to those with perfectionist tendencies. Because the exact cause of nail biting is still up for debate, it remains difficult to prevent or stop the habit in its tracks.
What You Can Do: Fighting the urge to nibble your nails may seem impossible, but trust us, it can be done. First things first, get a manicure and continue to do so every two weeks until you break the habit. When you have your nails done, you’re less likely to ruin the manicure you just paid for. Of course, for diligent nail biters, a fresh coat of paint may not be enough. Apply a nail biting preventive treatment a couple of times a day in order to quit the behavior. These topical treatments are purposely designed to leave a bad taste in your mouth, and thus tell your brain to avoid biting your nails in the future. If you still find yourself biting, it may be time to try more unconventional methods. Wear gloves or wrap your nails in foil or bandages, or, apply a rubber band around your wrist and pull it every time you feel the need to bite. Keep hands busy, whether you’re playing on your phone or tinkering on a piano, and you’re sure to kick the habit in no time!
Amy Standon, NPR (2012). Heard on Morning Addition. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org
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