Bored…hungry…stressed…daydreaming…even getting creative. You name it, and I’m probably biting my nails over it. But I’m not the only one. Up to 45% of teenagers bite their nails, and many of them continue into adulthood, and it can even develop into a type of OCD and cause serious medical problems.
But what happens when you attempt to stop? Go cold turkey? Go from mere stumps to claws that Cardi B would envy? I Googled the top 3 ways to give up nail-biting for good and tried them all – here’s how I got on…
Getting a manicure
What may seem like a normal weekly ritual to most, is almost an impossibility for someone with short nails. Especially when you’re deathly embarrassed by them.
There’s nothing worse than going into a nail salon and know you’re being *judged* by the nail expert before you making an attempt to find a brush small enough to paint your pathetic little stumps.
Yep, you know the one.
But, alas, as all good Google forums suggest, I follow. And Google suggested that getting your nails nicely touched up could be the key to leaving them alone.
Nervously I headed to the salon, did the awkward “haha I have, like, no nails!” joke I use every time, and picked out a summery shade of lilac to brighten up my fingers.
Having not had a manicure for about three years, you forget how much having sassy nails changes your personality. And 45 minutes later, I left, texting on my phone dramatically as though I was Blair Waldorf, because hell, my nails were purple – I felt feminine and looked somewhat good.
But, as all good things do, that quickly came to an end. One tiny chip to a nail and I am *done*. And by done, I mean the rest are coming off.
Anti-nail biting polish
Although this seems like the most obvious option, anti-nail biting polish is not easy to get hold of (if it was, I imagine I would’ve kicked the habit years ago).
The transparent varnish, or more commonly known as Nail Alert by Mavala Switzerland, markets itself as a “nail polish with a distinct bitter taste to discourage putting your finger in your mouth” and contains lots of alcohol-based ingredients that supposedly train your brain to not to bite nails, or in children, stop them sucking their thumbs.
Firstly, make no mistake, this stuff tastes like sh*t. And despite knowing it tasted sh*t, I continued to put my fingers in my mouth, forgetting just how awful it was. It’s one of those after-tastes you simply can’t get rid of for a good few hours, and over time, I thankfully began becoming more aware of when I was about to start biting, remembering the hell that lay ahead.
If you’re sat thinking “that sounds totally do-able”, you should also think about taking elocution lessons. Not because you’re ill-mannered, but because from now on, you’re eating EVERYTHING with a knife and fork. Burritos, pizzas, sandwiches. Fingers are totally off the cards unless you want your favourite foods obliterated by the taste of chemicals – but hey, if you were trying for a healthier diet, this could be perfect…
However, if you’re like me, still indulging in weekend take-outs, and despite your pathetic excuse for nail beds enjoy getting your nails painted brightly for summer: this isn’t going to work. I made that mistake for you. One salon-fresh manicure (the one above to be exact) with a blob of Nail Alert on each finger? Ruined. Like, the kind of ruined that can’t be salvaged – if one goes, they all go.
By now, you’ve probably guessed this isn’t the be-all and end-all solution to my problem. Did it deter me from biting my nails? Yes. Did it stop it completely? With a simple swipe of nail polish remover to hand, it wasn’t one for me.
Now this may sound extreme – and it is, but it’s also the third end-my-nail-biting-problem-for-good trial and we’re getting desperate. Plus, it turns out you can get hypnotherapy for almost *anything* these days with high success rates.
After researching high and low (the first page of Google), I came across Andrew Parr – a Harley Street hypnotherapist who’s helped over 12,000 people and boasts a wealth of 5-star reviews. What is there to lose?
Firstly, I’ve never been hypnotised. I’ve always been the person that’s seen people ‘under’ on TV game shows and refused to believe it was real, so the thought that someone may actually be able to alter the way I think was terrifying.
However, Andrew says that the idea of hypnosis is primarily false. He says that by developing habits that we can’t break, we must have been naturally hypnotised in the first place, so his job is to simply undo that.
“The old fashioned way of thinking of hypnosis is that someone puts a new idea into your mind that helps you behave differently. I don’t like that idea. I see it as my job, therefore, not to hypnotise, but instead to to de-hypnotise the person and help them return them to a more natural state. But also, a more evolved state.
“For breaking habits, the results can be instantaneous, or can take a while to get used to the new ideas, depending on the person. But if we use Natural Hypnosis to access the root cause of more emotional issues, for example, such as childhood traumas, then the freedom and liberation that comes from that can be instantaneous and issues that have been there for years can often disappear overnight, reducing the need for long, drawn out therapy.”
Andrew also mentioned that the biggest misconception about hypnosis is that “not everybody can be hypnotised” and that “if you don’t believe in it, it won’t happen for you.”
“Everybody can be hypnotised, by life, by parents, by teachers, by politicians, by advertising. We are all open to the phenomenon, it is occurring everyday. The misconception is that there is something special. There isn’t. But when you know what to do with it, you can make something special – and often miraculous – happen.”
Heading to his clinic (a tiny room on a high floor on Harley Street) I couldn’t tell if I was verging on laughter or anxiety that I could have an embarrassing “You’re Back in the Room” moment. Admittedly, as soon as I sat in the big therapy office-esque armchair in the corner, I felt instantly at ease with the peaceful aura of the place.
We discussed the causes of my nail-biting, why I want to stop, and agreed that it was because it was a habit I knew I needed to grow out of to allow my nails to become strong and healthy.
Something I never realised about hypnosis is that barely any of the session actually involved being “under.”
It was a lot of talking therapy, and a final ten minutes or so at the end involved laying back and being “hypnotised” by Andrew, speaking positive affirmations about how ditching my habit could potentially change my life.
“Long, healthy, pretty nails” he repeated, as I fell into a strangely-relaxing trance-like state. I can only describe it as the time between closing your eyes and actually falling asleep, allowing you to centre yourself and control your thoughts. If you’re a fan of
Now may be a good time to add, there was no clicking or magic wands bringing me back into the room. Andrew mentioned he can notice when people have started to fall into this trance-like state, and carefully guides you all the way back to opening your eyes.
For me, that was a bit of an “oh, was that it?” kind of moment, because there was nothing I couldn’t control and certainly no out of body experiences.
I felt almost sleepy following the session, and Andrew recommended I book another manicure for a couple of weeks time so that I had something to work towards, before sending me on my way.
Nothing felt different. I wasn’t all of a sudden an out-going personality, entering a new, mystical phase of my life. It felt like nothing had changed.
Except, I wasn’t putting my hand to my mouth anymore. Not by magic, but because the repetition in my sub conscience was telling me that I needed to leave my fingers alone, and that my nails deserved to be healthy and long and I needed to stop destroying them like someone who was nervous all of the time.
And slowly, but surely, my once red-raw fingertips grew little white strips of nail that felt almost unachievable to me, I went back to the salon and had my nails done (without embarrassment), and welcomed in a new part of myself that allowed me to control my reactions to situations as well as get over what was a minor habit in my long-spanning life. So far so good.
Result. Now, no one stress me out, please.