How to stop biting your nails if you’re still doing it as an adult
Curbing the bad habits amassed in our youth can be a monumental task. Our rap sheet comprises vigorous leg-shaking, playing with our hair, and most prevalent of them all: nail biting. According to the Indian Journal of Dental Research, it is considered to be one of the most common stress-relieving habits out there — which explains its chronic nature, its unshakable foible following us well into adulthood. The weightier the responsibilities, the worst the nails? It might seem so.
Fortunately, this is not a vice you have to live with. Chipped, ragged nails can be a thing of the past with these lifesaving tips that reportedly help curtail said pesky urge. Below, the best of which we've nailed down to restore (and protect!) those pristine paws — no hypnosis required.
Keep an eye out for your triggers
What gets you popping those digits into your mouth? Take a closer look at incidents that elicit such a reaction. Once identified, you can then work on reducing the likelihood its occurrence. "I really recommend keeping a record of the situations that produce the urge to bite, and addressing the emotions or actions that precede the biting," explains Kieron O'Conner, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal. "Then try to redirect that energy to more productive behaviour instead." And by productive behavior, he means...
Consider behaviour reversal
Once you're aware of your triggers, you can then work on executing behavior reversal. Translation: performing an opposing action to counteract your compulsion to chew those nails. Moving your hands to your pockets — instead of to the mouth — whenever the temptation arises, for example.
Cut your nails short
When there's not much to gnaw on, nail biting is less satisfactory. Also, we'll have you know that pathogenic bacterias such as salmonella and E. coli tend to find a cosy home under long nails. These happy germs cause stomach flu when ingested. Gag.
Get a manicure
Because who wouldn't hesitate chewing when faced with pretty, polished nails that you spent an inordinate sum of money on? Taking this one step further are nail polishes with bitter lacquers that can help deter nail-biting further. Try Mavala Stop.
And when all else fails, seek professional help
Studies are still being conducted about the matter at hand but Shiraz University of Medical Sciences discovered that nail biting is a symptom of other psychiatric conditions such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, separation anxiety disorder, and more. If none of the methods above work, consider consulting a psychiatrist to undergo certified treatment. Best of luck!