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As a former chronic nail biter, I know how hard it can be to kick the habit. No matter how many times people commented on my short nails or tried to warn me about all the germs I was putting in my mouth, I would still find myself gnawing on my fingers regularly.
Despite the ugly appearance of chowed-down nails, and the health risk it poses, many adults still bite their nails, as it’s a habit that can start in childhood and often continue on into adulthood.
Although experts aren’t sure the exact reason why people bite their nails, possible reasons include stress and boredom, or just simple a learned behavior from someone like a family member.
Eventually, what worked for me was working out the stress in my life through other outlets, on top of keeping my nails painted constantly so I would have to resist the urge to ruin them.
Everyone’s reason for nail biting is different, so it can take some trial and error before figuring out what works best for you. If you’re a nail biter and are looking to kick the habit, try these six tips to stop biting your nails.
1. Look For Ways To Destress
Oftentimes, nail biting is a form of stress relief, so the best place to start is to get rid of stress. Try taking up yoga, meditating, or participating in an activity that can help you unwind instead of turning to your fingers. This should be a hobby that you frequently take part in to remove long-term stress.
2. Substitute The Habit
Whenever you find yourself nibbling on your nails, stop and busy yourself with another habit such as squeezing a stress ball, knitting, or playing with silly putty. This will help your body form a new, less harmful habit to replace nail-biting.
3. Get A Manicure
This tip worked for me, as having painted nails gave me a visual reminder of what I did to them when I started biting, and it was rewarding to have long manicured nails that looked nice for once. It also can be helpful to wear artificial nails during the beginning to help you grow them out.
4. Use Bitter Polish
If you need something unpleasant to discourage you from biting your nails, consider using a bitter polish, or something like garlic to prevent you from putting your fingers in your mouth. The taste will remind you to stop biting instantly.
5. Chew Gum
Some people like the feeling of something in their mouth, which can be comforting. In this case, keep gum or candy on hand, which can keep your mouth busy.
6. Start Slow
Some experts recommend starting one nail at a time, and gradually completing the hand. Start with your thumb, and then work your way through every finger until you get to the point where you are no longer biting your nails.