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How hypnotherapy can help you stop biting your nails

Do you want to stop nail-biting and have manicured hands that you are proud to show the world? Are you tired of your ragged fingernails and red sore skin?

Nail-biting (or onychophagia) is one of the most common BFRB’s (body-focused repetitive disorders). BFRB is an umbrella term that also includes other compulsive disorders such as trichotillomania (hair-pulling) dermotillomania (skin picking) and bruxism (teeth grinding) to name a few.

Nail-biting affects a whopping 20-30 % of the adult population - the figure is higher for adolescents. It’s not life-threatening - it’s life annoying, although having said this you can suffer some nasty skin infections through incessant biting and chewing.

Is this you?

Getting that piece of skin, trimming off that bit of nail, smoothing over that bit of skin becomes all-encompassing and is your way of dealing with uncomfortable, busy, thoughts. It’s like a soother, a pacifier, or a distraction.

You bite your nails, skin chew, cuticle pick using your fingers, your thumb, your mouth, your teeth and can’t seem to stop yourself, almost as if your hand and mouth are behaving on their own, outside of your control.

Your nails and fingers can feel sore, tender, and bleed after you’ve finished with them. You swear to yourself you’ll never do it again as you look at the damage and feel soreness around your fingers, skin nails. Yet a few minutes or hours or days later you do it again and again.

Although you might think that you’ll never be able to stop nailbiting and that it’s just something you’ll have to put up with, you can! 

How can cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy help you stop nail-biting?

Onychophagia is a nervous habit and is always connected with worrying anxious thoughts and maybe procrastination. You’re coping with whatever is bothering you by literally chewing over your thoughts, eating yourself up.

When we work together, I firstly guide you through some quick and nifty relaxing and calming techniques that you can use throughout your day to self-regulate thoughts and feelings more effectively without resorting to biting. 

You learn about how relaxing your body relaxes your mind and thoughts and gives you the breathing space you need to reset and de-stress. Then, using a combination of hypnosis to instil confidence, self-belief and positive energy, and a strong habit reversal technique we treat the heart of the mechanical hand-to-mouth physical habit.

The combination of the physical habit breaker, the calming mind and body techniques together with skills to deal with worry, procrastination and self-doubt give you a coping toolbox to quit the habit for good. The reward of smart, clean hands and nails is worth every minute of your time and concentration.

One of my recent clients said that she had been biting her nails all her life, she’d tried the bad-tasting varnish to try and stop unsuccessfully and now that she was in her first job and engaging in adulthood she just wanted to leave nailbiting behind her.  When she’d stopped and sent me a photo after her first manicure, she felt so proud!

When you conquer a habit you have the amazing side-effect of feeling more confident and self-assured.  When are you going to stop?

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Teddington, Middlesex, TW11

Written by Morag Stevenson

Teddington, Middlesex, TW11

Morag Stevenson is a cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist who specialises in helping people overcome and manage stress and anxiety. She's particularly interested in helping businesswomen feel more confident. She also specialises in helping people overcome trichotillomania and other BFRB's. She works using Cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy.

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