Although many have tried to kick the habit, nail biting is one of the most common bad habits in the world. It’s a habit that can develop during childhood and can follow a person throughout their entire life. But why do so many people keep biting their nails, and why is it such a difficult habit to quit? If you’re still curious, here are the most common reasons why people bite their nails and how to stop.
Why Do People Bite Their Nails?
People who bite their nails or the skin around their nails often do it without thinking. It’s an automatic and unconscious reflex to external stimuli. The overarching reason why people bite their nails is due to unspent excess energy. This energy can show up for multiple different reasons, and although they’re often comorbid, you don’t have to have a mental illness for nail biting to crop up. Anxiety, frustration, and boredom are the most common causes of excess energy. Nail biting is a way people deal with challenging emotions.
Why Is It So Hard To Stop?
Even if you understand the importance of nail and cuticle care and how bad biting your nails can be, it doesn’t make it any easier to stop. Often, the reason why it’s so hard to stop is because it’s such a mindless action. How do you stop something that you don’t even realize you’re doing until after the damage is done?
For people who bite their cuticles, this can be even more difficult, as the pain one feels during skin tearing can release feel-good hormones that keep the brain coming back for more. The brain loves to make easy neuropathways, making repetitive behaviors a favorite for your brain. Once that pathway is made, it can be very hard to stop.
How Do I Stop?
While there are many tips and tricks to help you stop biting your nails, like painting your nails or applying a bittering agent, these things don’t actually break the habit but rather stop them temporarily. The first thing you want to do is allow yourself to calmly identify when you’re biting your nails. Recognize it, stop, and move on. This process can take a while, but as you start to identify the action, you’ll become more aware of the impending urge.
Once you become aware of the urge, this is where the real work comes in. When you recognize the desire to bite, analyze your surroundings. Is something making you anxious, upset, hungry, or bored? This process will have you identify your emotions and your triggers so you can deal with your emotions in a healthier way. If you still feel like you need to keep your hands busy and moving, there are many fidget toys on the market for busy hands that can be easily kept in your pocket.
The most common reasons why people bite their nails is due to anxiety and excess energy, and although how to stop can seem like a simple task, it requires time, patience, and a lot of mindfulness.