Hacks To Help You Finally Quit Biting Your Nails

Are you a nail biter? That habit you've likely had since childhood is making you more susceptible to harmful germs, bacteria, and viruses, and that can be true even if you wash your hands often (via American Academy of Dermatology). No matter what germs are floating around that you could be picking up (and transferring to your mouth), how about the simple fact that if you don't stop you could damage your nails and the surrounding skin permanently? 

Not only that, but a lifetime of nail-biting could lead to broken teeth and even jaw problems as well (via WebMD). Now that you're ready to quit, here are the simple tips to help you break your nail-biting habit and bring you one step closer to your perfect manicure — and potentially better health.

Keep your nails trimmed short, tidy, and painted

Sometimes the best way to stop a bad habit is to prevent yourself from actually doing it. According to WebMD, short nails without jagged edges are a lot more difficult to bite, and if you can't get a satisfying bite out of your newly painted, cute-looking nails, you're a lot less likely to do it. You need to make the trimming and filing of your nails part of a weekly routine because they can grow pretty quickly, and you don't want to risk indulging in the compulsion even subconsciously — if there are no nails to bite, you won't bite (via Healthline). Easy peasy, right? No, but it's a start.

Keep your hands busy

Remember the fidget spinner craze? If nail biting is your vice, you might want to think about getting yourself one. According to a 2013 study published in the Iranian Journal of Psychiatry, keeping your fingers busy is extremely effective in breaking the nail-biting habit. You're basically replacing the bad activity with one that has no negative consequences. Anything easy to carry and fun to play with will work. From stress balls to rubber bands, you just need to find an object that you can actively manipulate with your hands that will keep you distracted from the urge to bite.

Give yourself time

You can't break a long-standing habit overnight, but you can do it over time. A 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that when it comes to breaking any habit, consistency is key. Every person is different, and that means every person will break a bad habit like nail-biting, on their own timeline. Some people, unfortunately, can't stop biting their nails all at once. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that people who struggle with stopping cold turkey should try just one finger at a time. For example, week one you quit biting the thumbs of both hands, and week two the pinkies.

Reward your accomplishments

Set a goal and plan on giving yourself a reward for breaking the habit. This is the fun part! Positive reinforcement through reward will ultimately trigger a positive association with the desired behavior (via Positive Psychology). A great way to do this is with a professional manicure. According to WebMD, spending money and time at the nail salon will not only make your nails look beautiful, but it will motivate you not to bite because it would be a waste of money. Plus, it's always important to celebrate your accomplishments, and pampering yourself with a weekly or bi-weekly manicure is always money well spent — especially if it makes you feel good. In the words of Tom and Donna from Parks and Rec, "Treat Yo Self!"