Nora Davis is a super passionate runner and the brain behind therockinrunner blog. For all intents and purposes, she appears to be a healthy, happy and outgoing 30 something female. But like so many people on this planet, Nora has fought a lifelong battle with nail biting. This a basic summary of how she managed to regain control of this unbearably frustrating habit.
Part 1 – 27 Years Of Failure
Nora’s nail biting started at the tender age of five. In her own words “I nibbled my way through every year of school and more than ten years of being in the workforce.” Then, after a series of nail biting sessions that dragged her to the lowest point of her life, she made the decision to turn her life around.
Part 2 – Enough Is Enough
“I call this my low point because I was biting my nails when there was practically nothing left and yet I still wanted to bite. I couldn’t remember a time when I’d allowed the habit to get this extreme and wanted to put a stop to things before it got even more disgusting.”
In other words, the damage she was doing to her body became so severe, Nora was forced to acknowledge just how serious the problem was. It became unmistakably clear that Nora needed to stop biting her nails.
Part 3 – Implementing A Powerful Nail Biting Strategy
Like most nail biters, Nora had already tried some of the most common techniques for stopping, including painting her nails with bad tasting polish, and constantly reminding herself of the damage she was doing to her teeth. Unfortunately, these techniques made little to no difference. To make the change permanent, she dug a little bit deeper into the thought process driving her nail biting habit, and implemented two key strategies to make it stop.
Key Strategy 1: Identifying Her Nail Biting Triggers:
To regain control, Nora identified the 5 primary triggers, that made her feel like biting, namely:
Anxiety – “For those times I determined anxiety was the reason for the urge, I took a moment to relax and focus on my breathing (again, like running). I acknowledged the anxiety and tried to pinpoint the reason for it. As I thought about it I took slow, deep breaths instead of biting my nails. Eventually I would feel myself calming down and the urge would pass.” (Nora Davis)
There is no question that anxiety and stress can be powerful triggers for bad habits like nail biting. It’s actually quite amazing that Nora was able to implement such a healthy response to anxiety in the form of deep breathing. This is a well-known relaxation technique and a vital component of meditation. Evidently, taking a step back during anxious moment and consciously focusing on her breathing played a powerful role in her habit breaking process.
Boredom “A lot of times I was just bored and stuck my hand in my mouth as something to do to pass the time. Calling out the boredom for what it is helped because then I could focus on what I wanted to use my time for and do that rather than mindlessly bite my nails.”
Idle hands are the devil’s playground, and most nail biters should know this better than anyone. Long periods of boredom will encourage and enhance the temptation to engage in a bad habit like nail biting. Nora made another excellent choice here, choosing to transform her ‘bored time’ into useful, interesting, life-is-awesome time. Can’t really fault her on this decision.
Hunger “I wasn’t using my nails as a food source but I do think that sometimes when I was hungry I just wanted something to chew on, and my nails became an easy target since they’re always there. If I determined I was hungry, I’d eat. When I’m at work I’m eating every couple of hours, but stuff like yogurt, carrots, celery, fruit, etc. So it was pretty easy to substitute a carrot for a fingernail.”
By keeping her blood sugar levels balanced, Nora reduced the likelihood of using a nail biting session to curb her hunger cravings. For what it is worth, baby carrots are particularly good option if hunger is one of your triggers, but you still want something healthy.
Key Strategy 2: Taking Progress Pictures
“Thinking through my reasons for biting as a way to talk myself out of it was how I coped day-to-day; taking photos of my nails every week gave me small goals to shoot for to keep me on track. I knew if I could just get through the week that Friday I could take a photo and see my progress.”
Part 4 – More Than Two Years Of Success
This is the best part of Nora’s journey. Her intial 12 week progress picture exercise laid the platform for another 24 months of almost no nailbiting. During this period, her self-confidence, self-esteem and overall feeling of wellbeing improved dramatically.
Part 5 – Relapse
I’m not gonna lie. It freaks me out that Nora’s story doesn’t have the Disney style ending that everyone yearns for. After 2 years of zero nail biting, Nora relapsed. Based on her blog post the relapse occurred at some point in May 2015. The follow up comments indicate that she continued to struggle with nail biting for the majority of 2016, so the relapse wasn’t short lived.
Part 6 – To Be Continued
Sadly, Nora has yet to post anything more about the state of her nails. I am genuinely hopeful that things are looking pretty, but I can’t be certain without making contact with Nora. That is exactly what I intend. For her sake and for mine, my fingers are crossed.
What You Can Learn From Nora’s Journey
Progress Pictures Can Be Extremely Motivating
Based on the commentary on her blog, it is pretty clear that the progress pictures were highly motivating for Nora. The great thing about nail biting is that once you get started on the road to recovery, things can improve quite rapidly.
It’s possible to turns things around after you hit your low point
One of the best parts of Nora’s story is that she turned her low point into a platform for change. Rather than wallowing in self-pity, she recognized just how self-destructive the habit had become, and used it as motivation for change.
Even After 2 Years, You Still Aren’t Safe From Relapse
This is a warning sign for everyone that has been clean for more than 6 months. The temptation to start up again will always be there. A single moment of weakness can be the domino that sets off a chain of failure that takes you right back to where you started.
Nora is the perfect example of this. She broke her nail biting habit for 2 years, and then the need to nibble reared its ugly head again. She gave in to temptation, and effectively erased all the amazing progress that she made. Don’t let this happen to you.
Your body can heal itself very quickly… if you just give it time
What I like most about nail biting success stories is that the before and after photos can be amazing. It only took 12 weeks for Nora’s nails to transform from horrendous to beautiful. That’s less than 3 months. Just imagine what your nails could look like 90 days from now, if you just give them the time they need to regrow.
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