Nail Biting is one of the most common bad habits
Bad habits come in all shapes and sizes, and hypnosis is a very effective and powerful treatment for any habit – nail biting, hair pulling (trichotillomania), skin picking, teeth grinding, binge drinking, over eating,smoking, wasting hours playing computer games on or Instagram when there’s really something else which you should be doing, eating a whole packet of biscuits (and hardly tasting any of them, sadly!); what all of these bad habits have in common is that you find yourself doing them, or wanting to do them, subconsciously – in other words, you don’t consciously go through a thought process of telling yourself to do it. If you have a nail biting habit, you suddenly find that you are biting your nails without having thought “I should put my hand towards my mouth now”. Or you find yourself twisting or pulling your hair, seemingly unaware of what you are doing until you have actually pulled the hair out or made it snap. It just seems to happen without you really noticing, until it’s too late.
Or perhaps you suddenly find that a thought appears from nowhere – “I really want a packet of crisps” – but you’re not at all hungry; in fact you’re trying to lose weight and eat well – the thought just seems to pop up. Bad habits are things that you find ourselves doing or thinking when in fact you really want NOT to do or think those things.
Nail biting (the medical term is onychophagia) is the act of biting your cuticle, the soft tissue around your nail or your nail itself. It occurs in about a third of young children (aged 7 to 10), 44% of of adolescents, between 20 and 30% of young adults, and 5% of older adults. It’s more common in boys than girls and tends to be at its worse between the ages of 10 and 18.
Although it may be pure habit, the chances are that if you bite your nails, you are prone to anxiety and stress. It’s possible to bite your nails in your sleep. Some people only ever do it in their sleep – hypnosis is equally as effective in dealing with this type of nail biting, too.
As well as being embarrassing and unsightly, nail biting can be very painful; it can also cause infection – most germs are picked up on the hands, but cannot infect you unless they come into contact with your mouth nose or eyes. The hand to mouth contact involved in nail biting means that if you bite your nails you are much more prone to illness. Nail biting can lead to ridging, nail deformity and even nail loss. Bacterial infections can lead to dental problems such as gingivitis.
Nailing Biting and OCD
Whilst some nail biting is simply bad habit , if it is very extreme – causing bleeding, infection, loss of the nail, pain and scarring – it may have crossed the line between habit and a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Whether or not this is the case will depend on the severity of the damage caused, and whether or not the behaviour causes noticeable interference with normal day-to-day activities.
The treatment for the pure habit form of nail biting is Habit Reversal Training; if nail biting is a symptom of your OCD then, in addition, Exposure and Response Prevention will be used to treat the OCD. In both cases hypnosis will be used to reduce anxiety. There is more information on Exposure and Response Prevention on the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) page of this website. There is more information on Habit Reversal Training lower down on this page, in the paragraph headed “How does hypnosis break bad habits?”.
When do bad habits strike? And how do habits start?
Usually, you perform your bad habits when you are feeling anxious, restless, tired, stressed at work, hungry, bored, nervous, too busy, fed up, or when you are trying to concentrate on something important. You use bad habits to distract yourself, to take a moment out, to think about fewer than five things at once, to make yourself feel better. Although it’s usually very hard to remember exactly when and how your bad habit started, the chances are that back when it started, you got something out of it; it did make you feel better. Comfort eating is a good example of this – you’ve had a bad day, and you want something to cheer you up – and chocolate or chips (or whatever your own personal weakness is!) do the trick. You enjoy them and do feel better for a bit. The first time you bite your nails, or pulled your hair, it succeeded in distracting you from whatever it was which was making you stressed or anxious. Grinding your teeth probably made you feel stronger, in control, more determined to beat whatever problem was bothering you. But as you repeat the habit which made you feel better when you first tried it, it brings its own problems. Comfort eating leads you to put weight on; you’re embarrassed by the way your bitten nails look; you begin to get headaches or earache because of the teeth grinding, or it stops you from sleeping properly; your family worry about your health because you smoke; your head is sore and you are ashamed that patches of hair are missing. And as the habit becomes more and more of a subconscious action and you don’t even notice you’re doing it, it stops having any affect at all – it doesn’t make you feel one bit better. In fact you feel worse. You can stop this cycle. You CAN control your actions, stop nail biting, stop hair pulling, stop smoking, lose weight – you can break your bad habits. This is where hypnosis is so effective.
How does hypnosis break bad habits?
Hypnosis can be described as focused concentration and deep relaxation. Rather than subconciously – unthinkingly – indulging your bad habit, hypnosis makes you become very mindful of what you are doing. This means you notice your hand reaching towards your mouth, or towards the plate of biscuits, or that you are clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth, or hair pulling, rather than just automatically doing it. Your bad habit is subconscious so you don’t even think about it or make a choice when you do it – no wonder it is hard to control it! Hypnosis makes you aware of what you are doing. One of the hypnosis techniques used to stop nail biting is a suggestion that whenever you want to bite your nails, you must turn your hand upside down to do it; there are many variations on this. This type of technique is known as Habit Reversal Training. It works by making you very conscious of when your bad habits are happening. Habit Reversal Training also involves self hypnosis and hypnosis.
It is much easier to stop something when you become fully aware that you are doing it. And when you find yourself habitually thinking something – “I’ve really got to have chocolate right now” – hypnosis enables you to override this thought with thoughts which are more accurate, appropriate and useful – “Yes, I do want chocolate now, but not as much as I want to lose weight” “The taste of chocolate lasts only a few seconds – my weight and appearance affect me for the other 18 hours a day I’m awake!”
Hypnosis reduces stress and anxiety to break bad habits
As well as the specific suggestions which you will be given whilst in hypnosis to help you break your habit, the very deep state of relaxation which hypnosis gives you means that you are far less likely to develop the state of anxiety which leads to your carrying our your bad habit, too. Hypnosis helps you feel calmer and more relaxed, enables you to manage stress, to feel more in control of your actions and much more aware of them, and to replace your bad habits with a more positive response.
How quickly does hypnosis break bad habits?
You may notice the change very quickly – after just one session of hypnosis. Not everyone can break their habit so quickly, however – it will depend on the reasons you started in the first place, whether or not you are anxious generally, how much you really want to stop nail biting,hair pulling, teeth grinding, or whatever your habit is. Because everyone makes progress at a different speed, you should be wary of any hypnotherapist who promises instant success – hypnosis is not one size fits all; what works for one individual may not work for another. If someone absolutely guarantees that they can cure you in one session, the likelihood is that they are just desperate for your business. Look for a properly qualified and registered hypnotherapist – a reputable hypnotherapist will be happy to meet with you without charge, in order to get to know you and the background to your problem, and to make sure that you feel comfortable with them and the approach they take. They will be honest with you about how long the process is likely to take. If you choose to come here to Manchester Hypnotherapy you will be given CDs to listen to, to help you to relax and to do self hypnosis. Breaking bad habits such as nail biting is a process – you may get instant results, of course, but equally it may take some time. Hypnosis gives you the relaxation and peace of mind to be patient with yourself for as long as it takes to stop your habit completely.
Self hypnosis to stop nail biting and bad habits
Ultimately, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis – the thoughts which you repeat to yourself. The most important part of learning self hypnosis for many people who want to break bad habits is learning to relax, quickly and easily. Most bad habits develop when you are feeling stressed. Bad habits bring the immediate reward of focusing your mind away from the stressful situation, of distracting you, of making you feel a bit better. But these habits have a downside – the chocolate makes you gain weight, the bitten nails are embarrassing and painful, you feel fed up just because you have the bad habit. The habit isn’t really working any more. The deep state of relaxation which you experience whilst in hypnosis lets you feel better, less stressed and more in control WITHOUT resorting to nail biting, or whatever your bad habit is.
What kind of bad habit can hypnosis stop?
Any type of habit can be stopped. Most commonly treated are nail biting, hair pulling, smoking, over eating, skin picking, fidgeting, teeth grinding, drinking too much caffeine, binge eating (usually eating too much of one type of food such as chocolate, cake or biscuits), binge drinking, and swearing – but the hypnosis techniques used for these bad habits, and to help you to lose weight, are the same hypnosis techniques that work to break all bad habits. If you have got to the stage where you really want to break your bad habit, then hypnosis will help you to stop it for good. Hypnosis helps you to break the cycle of stress and anxiety which often cause bad habits to form, so that not only will you finish your treatment habit free, you will also feel generally calmer and more relaxed.
Hypnosis to stop bad habits in Manchester
The therapists at this south Manchester hypnotherapy clinic are Manchester’s top independently rated therapists in anxiety, bad habits, insomnia and phobia treatment. If you are looking for hypnotherapists in south Manchester to help stress and anxiety, claustrophobia, fear of flying, emotional problems such as jealousy and insecurity, panic attacks, or low self esteem, then go to any of the independent websites which list and give reviews of hypnotherapists (for example www.freeindex.co.uk – you can also see reviews on Google) and see what others say about us. If you would like further information about hypnosis in Manchester, for insomnia, to stop smoking, for self esteem and confidence, depression, for help with weight loss, to stop bad habits such as hair pulling and teeth grinding, or for any other problem, please call 07779 575 816 for a free, no obligation, confidential discussion.
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