How to stop biting your Nails: The Rubber band Approach

 

We are what we do. For 18 years I bit my fingernails. I was anxious about stuff and to temporarily alleviate the thoughts I bit my nails. It was an anxious habit and it sucked.

I was tennis player and sometimes I couldn’t play. I would bite them during lectures in classes I knew I needed to study for. I would bite them during scary movies.

I was self conscious of it, and each year made a resolution to stop that habit. I wanted it badly enough that I stopped being comfortably numb and took action, well many actions.

I tried using nail polish, habanero hot peppers, nail strengthener; all passive methods that didn’t work for me. Then finally I tried the simple rubber band. Having a rubber band on my wrist cured me.

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This method is simple: Snap your wrist when you bite your nails.Trust me, you will become hyper aware of biting your nails very quickly.

  • Have a thicker rubber band that fits comfortably around your wrist. Carry extras.
  • When you put your fingernail to your teeth…stop yourself, take a deep breath, and don’t judge yourself or be mad
  • Lift up the rubber band and snap yourself hard enough to sting the fleshy part of your wrist. Repeat it 3 times.

The important thing is too always have it on, and snap yourself each time you begin to bite your nails. This is negative reinforcement and believe me, it works.

You might think this is masochistic. But no one ever said changing your habits was easy. But once you win this battle, you gain confidence in yourself.

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From Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit

While breaking this habit, you will recognize the common thought loops that occur before biting your nails. Biting your nails is a symptom not the cause of anxiety. To eradicate the nail biting even further, you must address the cause. Those thoughts are reminders that you haven’t taken action. So take action.

After awhile you develop a new problem. You have to learn how to clip your nails, which is pretty annoying.