Nail biting, medically known as onychophagia, is an oral compulsive habit that’s pretty common. Nail-biting can morph from a simple habit to a severe problem that is difficult to stop.
Unfortunately, I’m a long-time nail biter. And while I haven’t reached a severity level that qualifies for medical intervention, I do find myself fairly bothered by the habit.
So here are some tips and tricks I’ve found along my journey to stop biting my nails. It’s time to enjoy those healthy long nails you always wanted!
Discover the root of the problem
For me, my compulsion stems from anxiety, stress, and boredom. This meant I had to deal with several issues at once, though some manifested more often than others.
Once you identify the drive behind your actions, then you can successfully move forward and eventually take small steps to resist it. Sometimes it’s driven by boredom or a way to deal with daily stress and nervousness.
Form an Alternate Habit
Feeling the urge to bite? Redirect your attention elsewhere. According to psychologists, it takes a minimum of 3 weeks to develop a new habit. So it’ll take a minimum of 21 days to break your old one and form a new routine.
If you’re finding that you pick and chew your nails when you’re bored, try writing or cooking instead. Do something with your hands which involves a hobby. You can try playing a video game or go for a run!
Or when you’re busy with something new, chew some gum to keep your mouth “occupied.” The most important thing is to do what makes you happy and, ideally, distracted.
If you’re stressed out, do a self-care activity instead of chewing down your nails! Maybe book a massage as soon as you can, or vow to do a meditation exercise with a phone app.
Once you learn how to maintain your stress, you may notice that it will become easier to stop biting your nails.
And if you find yourself needing a little extra help, pick up some No Bite polish! That stuff is bound to keep your mouth away from your nails. It tastes absolutely horrendous.
Sometimes a little reward can go a long way. In combination with the tips above to shift your bad habits, set up a small system for positive reinforcement. Start by choosing a reasonable period not to bite your nails, once you succeed, reward yourself with a manicure! Plus, once you get your nails done, it’s so much harder to bite them and ruin the polish!
If it doesn’t work out the first time, try again. Keep restarting if you need to, and keep a streak calendar to see how far you can push it!