But have you ever stopped to consider why you’re biting your nails? Some people might do it lieu of a nail clipper, and others might associate it with stress and nervousness. While that may be the case for some people, there are actually other things that nail-gnawing might be an indication of.
A review by the Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry indicates that nail biting might be linked to perfectionism.
Today, psychology describes perfectionism as ‘an endless report card on accomplishments’ and it’s often associated with depression. Let’s take a closer look at some of the research.
Repetitive behaviors such as biting your nails are defined as ‘Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors’ or BFRBs. This can include other similar habits such as skin picking and hair pulling.
In order to find out what sparks these BFRB behaviors, the researchers came up with two models. The Emotional Regulation (ER) and the frustrated action model (FA).
The ER causes the FA to react which suggests that anxiety, disappointment, and frustration are all responsible factors for the BFRBs.
This study suggests that people who do these BFRBs regularly are more likely to experience an FA.
Dr. Kieron O’Connor explained that from this research, they believe that people with these repetitive tendencies could be perfectionists. This means they are unable to relax or perform tasks at an average pace.
They get impatient and are prone to frustration when they can’t reach their goals, which is what leads to these bad habits.
Basically, nail biting and other bad habits have less to do with the anxiety of stress, and more the frustration, according to these findings.
Although nail biting and other BFRB habits may seem harmless, they actually have physical and emotional consequences.
Some physical consequences to nail biting can include sore red fingernails, bleeding, a risk of infection, contamination (finger to mouth), teeth weakening, maladjusted teeth, and more.
Other studies show that nail biting could be related to more serious mental health issues such as OCD.
Other risks of nail biting include the risk of illness and infection. There are thousands of germs crawling under your fingernails including bacteria that cause diarrhea and vomiting.
Enough nail biting can lead to other issues such as dental damage and finger sores. Not to mention it doesn’t leave the best first impression.
If you have a bad nail biting habit, it can make you come across as nervous or ill-prepared when you’re in public situations.
So what can you do to stop? There are a few methods! You can try covering your nails with a sticker or tape. You could wear gloves, or get a manicure that prevents you from biting.
You could always replace it with a healthy habit, such as playing with a stress toy like a fidget spinner or a cube.
It’s not going to be an easy process, but the first thing to do is recognize that nail biting is a bad habit, and if you do it regularly you should probably consider the risks.