Published on February 23rd, 2017 | by Neharika Sabharwal
Fix It: Onychophagia
Sounded Greek? Then in English, if your compulsive talon-gnawing is leading to fractured, bleeding nails then, my friend, you have a problem.
A boring lecture, a career changing meeting or the climax of a horror movie, we all have our share of nail biting moments in life. Stress and boredom are the most common reasons for the nail biting. The habit is often a way to ease anxiety or to keep at least one part of the body occupied while the mind lacks interest. Frustration and loneliness are additional emotional triggers. Bottom line, nail biting is nothing less than a form of self –mutilation and needs to be stopped. Easier said than done? We know. So here are some cliched and non-cliched tips to help restore your nails to their fullest glory.
Make it stop
- Conscious Effort: They say self-help is the best help, so making up your mind is the tough first step. Motivate yourself by thinking of the positive aspects of kicking the habit and making the negatives of nail-biting as dramatic as possible.Know this: If you tend to think it’s no big deal, you’re unlikely to make the change. Also, certain situations, activities or emotional states can trigger nail biting. If you can identify these situations you’ll be better prepared to stop yourself.
- Buddy System: Tell your family and friends that you are trying to quit biting your nails and ask them to give you a little nudge every time they see you at it. Sometimes, it just takes an extra push from a buddy to save your fingernails.
- Take calcium and magnesium supplements: True story: The reason we bite nails is because of a lack of calcium and magnesium in the body. So replenish these nutrients by taking Calcium and magnesium supplements. They come quite cheap and some are also specifically designed to boost hair and nail strength. Besides, taking supplements will help you convince yourself that you really do want to quit nail biting.
- Artificial Nails: Try artificial nails. If done right, they look awesome and are like a protective cover for your fingernails preventing you from chewing at them. You can also get regular manicures. Spending money to keep your nails looking attractive will make you less likely to bite them.
- Paint your nails bright: Paint your nails a bright colour so it may draw attention to you when you bite them. A lot of manicurists feel black nail polish is great for this, as its stark colour draws attention. Also, this colour will make you extra intent on maintaining your talons because it looks the worst of all colours when chipped.
- Protect certain nails from biting: Pick one nail to protect at a time from biting. After a few days, a non-bitten nail will flourish and reward you.Once you have grown your non-bitten nail, start protecting another one. And then move to another and another, until every single nail is has been protected by your gnawing habit. Just make sure you don’t relapse once all your nails have grown well.
- Find an alternate habit: A good trick is to find a habit to take the place of nail biting, so whenever you have the urge to bite, indulge yourself in that instead. Some people like to drum their fingers, twiddle their thumbs, clasp their hands, put their hands in their pockets, or just stare at their hands. Ensure your substitute is not a bad habit else the whole purpose would be lost.
- Distract your mouth: Don’t let your fingernails reach those canines by distracting your mouth in the first place. Eat a carrot stick or keep some gum handy for those weak moments.
- Nibble Inhibitors: Coat your nails with a bitter-tasting nail biting polish. The nasty taste will discourage you from biting. Bitrex is a chemical that is put in products to make them taste foul. You can buy it from your local pharmacy. Carry some with you at all times for a quick application.
- Keep’em short: If none of the above techniques seems to be working, just keep a nail cutter handy. Keep nails trimmed short. You can’t bite if there’s nothing there.
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