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How to Stop Biting Your Nails

Once Bitten, Twice Shy: Five Ways to Stop Nibbling Your Nails

Every nail biter knows that it's a bad habit: you get bacteria from the environment into your mouth, age your hands, wear down your teeth, and generally end up feeling pretty bad about yourself and your willpower (or apparent lack thereof). But biting your nails isn't about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps for a lot of people. Instead, it's an automatic reaction that has to be overcome by other means, because will alone doesn't work when you don't notice you're doing something or have no other means of release. To help those of us for whom nail nibbling is all too natural, I've put together five smart tips that promise quick results — just keep reading.

 

  1. Stop punishing yourself. Since many nail-biters engage in the habit out of nervousness, anxiety, or during bouts of ruminative thinking, if you get down on yourself whenever you bite, you may only be making things worse. Also recognize that your nail-biting may be a signal that you need to take a break and get away from environmental stressors. So get up, go to the bathroom, grab something from the fridge, do whatever—but change your position and situation for a minute. And remember that you'll be fine.
  2. A lot of people bite when they're bored, which means that if you're this kind of nibbler, you need to develop a new, healthier way of distracting yourself. I have a friend who wears rubber bands around one of his wrists and plays with them whenever he gets the urge to bite, which is a pretty simple solution. Try playing more cell phone games or, if you can move around, go for a walk around the block.
  3. Get Solar nails or one of the other thick, hard acrylics. If you're a pathological biter, these things are so hard when they're put on correctly that they'll hurt you before you can crack them. They also make your mouth taste like gross chemicals, and if you're lucky you'll condition yourself to an aversion.
  4. Get a gorgeous manicure with bright, perfect polish. If your nails look nice, you'll be less likely to bite because you'll be more conscious of them. This is a better solution if you've been able to grow them out a little bit and want to keep your hard-earned white tips.
  5. Chew gum, suck on a lollipop, or keep a crispy, healthy snack like celery or carrots around. If you have something else to chew, you're probably not going to put your fingers in your mouth, and after several weeks you'll have begun to undo a lifetime of conditioning.

 

Source: Getty
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