I wrote several months ago about my terribly bad habit of biting my nails. Unfortunately, I didn’t stick with my goal of quitting back then, but I’m happy to say that I’ve successfully quit over the last 6 weeks. I’m hoping it will last this time — I’ve quit before only to end up reverting — and to help remind myself to stick with it (and how!), I’ve put together these 5 tips to stop biting your nails. There are lots of these lists out there, but this is what has helped me. I hope it will help someone else, too.
Convincing myself that I needed to quit was never an issue — but it didn’t help me actually quit. Instead, I recommend setting an achievable goal for yourself. For example, aim to grow long, pretty nails in anticipation of an event (a friend’s wedding or the birth of my son worked for me). This time around, I was aiming for DragonCon — for no real reason, but it’s a deadline, and that’s what matters. I admit that I’ve returned to the bad habit after quitting multiple times, but only after these goals have passed. I just have to remember to keep setting new ones.
2. Satisfy the urge.
If you’re anything like me, it’s so hard in those first few days and weeks to quit picking at or biting your cuticles and hangnails. It’s like an itch you have to scratch or even a nervous tick. I’ve tried keeping my hands busy with stress balls or clay, but distraction didn’t help. I needed satisfaction for that irresistible urge to “fix” my cuticles (even though I knew all along that picking at them would only make matters worse).
Finally, I found my magic elixir: Burt’s Bees lemon butter cuticle cream. I always knew it helped to apply it at night — my cuticles the next morning would be noticeably healed and soft — but this time, I started keeping it with me all the time and rubbing it on my cuticles any time I got the urge to pull/pick/bite. This satisfied that urge I had to mess with my cuticles without doing any harm — in fact, it helped to keep the skin nice and moisturized, which in turn reduced cracking. And bonus: it smells great.
3. Reward yourself.
Preferably in a way that helps your nails and hands as well. I’ve never been a big manicure girl (probably at least in part because of my nasty nail-biting habit), but a week or so after I quit biting my nails this time, I went to the salon for some pampering. I ended up with gel polish (more on that in a bit), but just as important was the fact that I was able to relax while beautifying my new nails. For you, it might be purchasing a fancy hand cream or even something that isn’t nail or shopping-related.
4. Strengthen your nails.
A couple of weeks after initially kicking the habit (again), I visited a nail salon and asked for their advice. I knew I didn’t want fake nail tips, but I wanted something to give my nails extra strength. As I mentioned, I opted for gel polish. It’s a pricy option, but the benefit of gel (or similar) is two-fold: First, it made my nails hard as, well, nails, making them impossible (or very difficult, anyway) for me to break, bite, or peel. Second, my hands and nails looked so pretty, freshly groomed, super shiny — something to flaunt and be proud of. That one visit to the salon helped with #3 & #4 on this list!
This is where I often struggle. It’s important — nay, imperative — to keep your nails looking nice, even after you (think you’ve) kicked the habit. Continue to remind yourself of how good it looks and feels to have pretty hands and nails. Keep your nails polished, hangnails in check, cuticles groomed, nails filed to a reasonable length — whatever works for you. This (in addition to #1) is what I’m going to have to really focus on from here on out. I don’t want to rebound again — and I don’t intend to — but that means making sure my nails are always in tip-top shape so I never get the urge to bite or pick.