Author Topic: Nail biting  (Read 2830 times)

Offline Peter

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Nail biting
« on: April 21, 2010, 12:15:16 PM »
OK, this might seem like a very minor bad habit, but it has bothered me for many years and I have not been able to get rid of it.  I bite my fingernails way too much and they look terrible. I'm embarassed about it. I do it more when I get nervous or stressed. I've tried a few ways to stop it, including painting my fingernails with a bitter tasting substance.  That worked for a while, but once I stopped applying the substance, I returned to the habit.  I'm interested in trying the deconditioning approaches here to see if they work, because I don't think negative approaches work.  So I'm paying attention to the "cues" that bring it on.  Starting today, I just tried to ignore biting the nails to try to "extinguish" the urge, but it was very hard to do that, and almost unbearable.  I did manage to postpone biting the nails for like 15 minutes, but then I gave in.

So I'm going to try to figure this out and use some of the suggestions. If anyone else has had success with stopping nail biting or other similar nervous habits, please let me know.  Thanks.

Offline Peter

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Nail biting
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2010, 11:19:57 AM »
I've had some success the past few days with a sort of deconditioning. I noticed that I was biting my nails at certain times -- while driving or while in meetings.  The most embarassing part has been in meetings, because it just looks bad.  So I've consciously focused on those two situations. So I go into those situations telling myself that if I can avoid bitiing my nails in my car or in a meeting, I will have a success.  I also am substituting an alternative response to the cravings.  I am just touching my fingers to my thumb and squeezing when I get the urge.  This relieves a little of the stress, and is a kind of counter-conditioning, but one that is not so reinforcing.  

So far I've gone two days...no nail biting.  And I reward myself afterwords with a coffee or hot chocolate.  I'm trying to be my own lab rat.

Offline Moonbeam

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 47
Re: Nail biting
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2010, 06:01:43 PM »
Peter, I've heard of something that people do for that sort of thing which may be a kind of deconditioning.  They put a rubber band on their wrist, and whenever they catch themselves doing it, they pop the rubber band painfully on their skin.

Maybe you could try that, and not just when you do it, but when whenever you even get the thought of doing it.  (Discreetly if possible.) 

That may be a negative approach which you are trying to avoid, so I'm not sure if that's what you want. 

It seems like there should be some way of substituting or redirecting the biting to another activity, which would serve the same purpose emotionally or whatever, but not be as detrimental.  I can't think of anything off-hand, but that might be a way to go.  Like tell yourself, "I don't bite my fingernails, I {do this} instead", every time you start.  Even something simple, like take a drink of water.

Good luck. 

Offline Peter

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Nail biting
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2010, 06:34:55 AM »
Peter, I've heard of something that people do for that sort of thing which may be a kind of deconditioning.  They put a rubber band on their wrist, and whenever they catch themselves doing it, they pop the rubber band painfully on their skin.

I tried the rubber band idea, Moonbeam, and that has been working very well, better than my finger pinching. It still gives me some tactile way to channel my nervous energy, but without nailbitiing.  Now my fingernails are starting to look normal.  I still get the urge, especially when I'm stressed, but now I just ping the rubber band.

So far, so good.  Thanks for your suggestion!

Offline Moonbeam

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 47
Re: Nail biting
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2010, 03:52:11 PM »
 :D Cool!  I'm so glad it worked for you.

Offline Aamir

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Nail biting
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2011, 02:35:59 AM »
Hi All,
Most of the people bite their nails unintentionally and when they are nervous or lack of confidence.
Rubber band technique won't work for long time. How about chewing gum when you note you are biting nail?
You can either bite nails or can chew gum at one time.
What do you think?

Offline shadowfoot

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
Re: Nail biting
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2011, 10:57:18 AM »
I have the same problem and have finally been fixing it over the past few weeks. For me, whenever I have a nail that is chipped or weakened in any way, I will chew it and pull on it. This, of course, only makes the problem worse. So what works for me is keeping off it long enough for my nails to grow out long enough to the point where I can cut and file them and keep them smooth and strong. If they are at the point, I will not bite them. Getting there, however, is the real trick. What I have to do is carry a nail clipper and file, so that whenever anything starts to get bad I can fix it before I bite it into oblivion.

Hope that helps.

-shadowfoot