Biting your nails is a habit. It's not easy to stop, and most people who do wish they could. Nail biting is a habit that you can kick if you start with a plan, and you know some basic behavior modification strategies. This article will give you some tips on how to break your habit.
Tell yourself that you are ready to commit to this change. It's going to take a couple weeks to see the benefits of not biting your nails. That means for someone who has their fingers in their mouth every day, it takes a prolonged commitment to resist. You might want to plan to make this committment during a time when you are least likely to fail, that is, a time of the year that is the least stressful for you. Don't start around the holidays or before finals.
Use self talk. Convince yourself that your habit is ugly and disgusting. Tell yourself, "Biting leads to jagged edges, hang nails, sometimes leading to bloodied nails. The germs you put in your mouth by putting your fingers in it in the course of a day grocery shopping or typing at work on a common computer is unsanitary for you and others. You could catch a cold that way." This self-talk will give you pause next time you go to nibble.
Visualize your nails looking longer and more shapely. This is to ease the self-hate in step 2, because simply tearing yourself down does not make a person want to improve themselves, or feel like they can do it. Believe that you can, and imagine that you did.
Invest in pretty nail polish . If you buy nail polish in advance, you have something to look forward to. This will help with the visualization in step 2.
Implement an alternative behavior. When you find yourself with your hand up by your face about to nibble on your nail, you need to stop and do something else. Something safe and simple that will become routine that you can do instead of biting your nail. For example: Some people wear a rubber band to snap gentle on their wrist. You don't even need to do it hard as a punishment, you are just making an alternate small movement.
Repeat for 2 weeks. If you are a habitual nail-biter, you will probably start to see some changes around this time. This will feel very motivating to help you continue the previous steps. If you only bite your nails when you are stressed, seeing nail growth is not as novel and may not be as motivating. What you should do instead is to routinely file your nails so they look well kept. Investing the time to do this will make you less likely to want to ruin the nice filing you did. Also, it is more tempting to nibble on a jagged corner of a nail that has broken than a nail that you recently rounded off nicely with a nail file.
Paint your nails as a reward when they are long enough. And that's it! Continue with these steps until you find you are no longer inclined to bite your nails.
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