Friday, June 27, 2008

Normal Looking Nails

As I described previously, I had been in the habit of biting my nails and have been having success at preventing any further biting. While I will still occasionally absentmindedly put my finger in or near my mouth. I am conscious of it, however, and if I notice I am repeatedly doing it, I will find a squishy-ball or something else I can hold or do with my hands.

I have actually been successful enough at this that I have had to trim my nails. At least, I felt like I needed to trim them: after years of biting nails too short, it is hard to tell what is the right length; it also feels weird when areas that are used to being exposed to air are suddenly covered.

If anyone else if having a hard time with this, the steps I found that made the biggest difference follow:
  1. Actively pursue not biting your nails. In the past, whenever I had thought about biting my nails, I always hoped that I could stop. This time, however, I actively kept it in my mind and really analyzed when and why I was doing it.
  2. Keep your hands busy. For me, I was often biting my nails when I had nothing for my hands to do. By finding a squishy-ball to play with, or just something to actively think about keeping in both hands, was often enough to make it to inconvenient or noticeable to myself when I would come close to biting again.
  3. Moisturize cuticles and nails frequently. As a guy, I frequently ignore all of that moisturizing stuff. Unless my hands are really cracked and suffering, I am unlikely to use hand cream. However, many times I found that a reason I was picking or biting at my nails and cuticles was not because I was nervous or bored, but because the skin was dry and was being irritated. Coating the entire nail area helped correct dry skin and made it less likely for me to chew on myself.
  4. Maintain nails. While looking for something to do with my hands, I would occasionally grab my swiss army knife and use the filing appendage to clean and shape the nails. This helped additionally because without the rough edges or dirty nails, there was no legitimate reason to bite at them.
  5. Don't do it by yourself. When I decided to stop biting my nails, I knew an easy way to do it was with accountability. So, I posted here about it, but I also told all my friends that they should tell me to stop biting my nails if they saw me doing it. Since I didn't want to have them constantly annoying me, I had additional incentive to catch and prevent the behavior myself.
It is hard to say if I am completely successful and done with the process of breaking this bad habit. While I am doing well right now, what is to say that when I am truly tested I won't resort to gnawing at my fingertips? I guess continued, careful monitoring will be the only way to tell. Once I have fully grown my cuticles again, I will consider it a success.

No comments: