You would have come across people furiously biting nails or pulling off loosened cuticles. There would be a momentary pause in the process if someone pointed it out, but then again they would go back to it.
So, if you have ever bit your nails nervously before your PTE exams, you’re not alone. Various studies suggest that 45% of teens and about 60% of children bite their nails. The number of people biting their nails reduces after the age of 18 however many don’t grow out of this habit.
Nail biting is part of a group of behaviour called pathological grooming which get triggered by stress and anxiety inducing situations. Pathological grooming also includes hair pulling, known as trichotillomania, and skin picking, known as dermatillomania.
PTE exams provoke lots of worry and anxiety and nail biting becomes a way to relieve stress. Most nail biting is automatic and you might find yourself indulging in this habit when you’re bored or hungry.
Although scientists are not sure whether nail biting is genetic but studies show children of nail biters often pick up this habit even if the parents stopped before the child is born.
Breaking a nail-biting habit is important as it can lead to some serious problems which aren’t just cosmetic. Apart from resulting in abnormal-looking nails and sore cuticles, this habit can make you vulnerable to harmful bacteria and virus.
Although nail-biters are aware of their problem, some mental health professionals are of the view that many nail biters have no wish to stop because it feels so good.
So, how do you stop biting your nails before a PTE exam or anytime for that matter?
1.Find your triggers: Notice what you’re doing that kicks you into nail-biting, you can try to find other ways to cope. Identifying the triggers for your stress and anxiety, like PTE exams, will help you develop workarounds these situations. Knowing when you’re unconsciously resorting to nail-biting will help you develop a plan to stop.
2. Use the best nail clippers: Always keep a set of nail clippers by your side. You can choose from a wide range of clippers best suited to your nails and requirement. By keeping them short, you won’t have enough nail to bite and it won’t feel as satisfying when you try. Keep your nails short and instead off biting it, clip them off.
3. Pamper yourself with manicures: Getting regular manicures will give you attractive nails and a reason to keep them that way. Spending your money and time at a nail salon will reduce the impulse of biting them.
4. Use bitter nail polish: Special nail paints with a bitter taste will make you think twice before chewing.
5. Cover your nails: This may sound weird, but wearing gloves is an effective way to keep the temptation at bay. If gloves won’t work for you, you can use nail covering stickers for the same effect
6. Keep your hands or mouth busy: Something to keep you distracted like a stress ball, a worry stone, or even a pen to click works wonders in breaking a nail-biting habit. You can chew gum to channelize your nail-biting energy better. It’s all about keeping your hands and mouth away from each other and busy.
Although no clear evidence exists to show that a nail-biting habit is either mentally or physically harmful, there are many good reasons for you to stop. Hygiene and presentable nails are sure some of them.
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