Saying no to nail biting can seem impossible. It is a habit that usually begins in childhood. Consequently, by the time clients come to see me it has become a well-established habit. In this blog I will consider what causes nail biting, how it impacts upon your health, the steps you can take to stop this habit, and how hypnotherapy can help you to break free from this habit once and for all.
Nail biting, or onychophagia, is a pathological grooming disorder. It frequently occurs in response to stress, anxiety or boredom and is a way of relieving these difficult emotions. For some people, when faced with a difficult situation in which they feel unable to act, biting their nails provides an alternative to remaining passive; a way of taking some action rather than not doing anything at all. It appears that a strong genetic component exists. Therefore, if your parents were nail biters it is likely that you will be too.
The impact upon your health.
Nail biting can damage both your nails and the surrounding skin, resulting in redness, soreness and possible infection. As your fingers are in contact with your teeth, it is also easy to pass infections to your mouth from your hands.
In addition, there can be a significant impact upon your teeth. The enamel that covers your teeth can become eroded, the pressure of biting a nail can lead to a tooth chipping or fracturing, or your teeth may become crooked. Bruxism, (teeth grinding) is found to be more common in people who bite their nails.
How can I stop?
Keep your nails short.
Short nails are much more difficult to bite.
Invest in a manicure.
You will be much less likely to bite your nails when you can see how beautiful they look.
Identify your trigger times or situations.
Once you know when you are most likely to want to bite your nails you can change your environment to make this behaviour less likely to happen. E.g. Nail biting at the park could be reduced by wearing gloves. Nail biting associated with TV watching could be diverted by having something else in your hands to keep them busy at this time e.g. a stress ball.
Paint strongly scented solutions on your nails.
Neem oil, diluted vinegar or a garlic and olive oil infusion all provide a powerful scent. As your nails approach your mouth, this scent will quickly discourage you from bringing your nails any closer!
Plan a phased withdrawal.
You could, for example, begin by deciding not to bite your index finger nails. Once this is achieved you could focus on other identified nails until every nail on your hands is no longer under threat.
Celebrate the small wins.
Remember, every achievement, however small, is a step forward.
How can hypnotherapy help me to say no to nail biting?
Hypnotherapy provides a fast and effective way of stopping nail biting for good. You will learn new, more helpful responses when faced with situations that would have previously triggered this behaviour. You will learn how to manage your difficult emotions more effectively. In addition, you will also experience a shift in mindset. This will ensure that you do not return or want to return to the former habit of nail biting. As a result, you will move forward with increased confidence, and nails you can be proud of !
Nail biting can usually be treated in a single hypnotherapy session. Why not contact me today for a free consultation to find out more?