I’ve been a chronic nail-biter my entire life. I’ve gone through good phases where I’d hardly bite my nails, and I’ve also gone through bad stages where I’d chew my nails and cuticles until they bled. For someone who is usually a bit of a control and neat freak in other aspects of her life, I’ve never understood why nail biting is the one bad habit that I’ve never been able to fully kick. Whilst I don’t think I’ll ever totally kick the habit (or at least not any time soon), these simple strategies have helped me manage my nail biting.
Increase your self-awareness
I’m a textbook stress and boredom nail-biter. Most of the time I don’t even realise I’m doing it. By raising my self-awareness, I’ve learnt to acknowledge when I am chewing on my nails and to channel that energy into something more productive. Learn to recognise your triggers (for me it’s doing uni readings and watching TV) and have something productive and positive to do instead. I keep a tube of hand cream on my desk and in my lounge room that I use to massage into my nails instead of biting once I realise the habit has been triggered. Enlist the help of your family and friends as well, and get them to tell you when you’re biting your nails in case you’re unaware you’re doing it.
Invest in good nail care products
If you spend $50 on products and actually use them, you’re less likely chew your nails and waste the money you’ve spent on caring for them. My nail care essentials are:
- Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream ($15)
- The Body Shop’s Almond Butter Hand & Nail Cream ($20)
- Manicare’s Cuticle Trimmer & Pusher Wand ($10)
- Sally Hansen’s Diamond Strength Nail Hardener polish ($15)
I find it helps when I paint my nails. The colour makes me more aware when I am about to bite my nails and the time I spent on painting them helps deter me from ruining a good paint job. If you’re just starting to grow your nails, I recommend a nice pale pink colour. This is subtle enough that it doesn’t draw much attention to sore and bitten down nails, but has just enough colour and shine to attract your own attention when biting. Light colours also hide any painting errors much easier!
Don’t be too hard on yourself
Breaking a life-long habit is hard. It’s no different than quitting smoking or trying to exercise more each week. It takes time and patience. You may slip up occasionally and that’s okay. Remember to reward yourself when you’re doing well and don’t torture yourself if you take a few steps back. Instead, recognise what triggered you to slip up and remedy it.