For GQ by Stephen J. Praetorius.
We don't have to tell you how gross it is to bite your nails. There's literally not a soul alive under the illusion that it's anywhere near a sexy habit -- not to mention the fact that it could very well prematurely age your hands. So even though, according to scientists, nail-biting may be a sign of perfectionism, it's something you should be looking to quit, and sooner rather than later. But you don't have to do so blindly. Here, a three-step guide to help ease your transition from fervent nail-nibbler to meticulously manicured gentleman.
1. Keep Your Fingers Tidy
If you're determined to quit munching your own mitts, then the first thing you need to do is clip your nails as low as they can possibly go. Because, simply put, the less you have to bite, the better.
Worried you might not be able to resist the temptation when they start to grow back? Then you've got a few options. You could invest a solid manicure kit, like this one by Art of Shaving. Besides making it really, really, ridiculously easy to get a clean cut, you'll also feel bad for not using it after spending all that money. Alternatively, you could book yourself a standing appointment with a manicurist so you don't have to manage the upkeep. Plus, you've got another set of eyes tracking (and judging) your progress. Never underestimate the power of shame.
Read more: Don't Let Your Hands Lie About Your Age
2. Bring Out the Big Guns
Still tempted to nibble your digits? Then it's time to consider what psychologists like to call "negative reinforcement." That is, introducing a consequence for bad behaviors, which in this case would be bringing your fingers anywhere near your face. You best bet: bite deterrents, like this one. Both odorless and invisible to the naked eye, these intensely bitter nail-coatings taste definitively like shit, so any time you feel tempted to sink your teeth into your cuticles you'll have to deal with that. They're also often made with pro-health components, to help with any damage you've already done to your nails. So that's a plus.
3. Channel Your Energy Elsewhere
Ask anyone and they'll tell you that the number one cause for a chronic nail-biting habit is stress. That being the case, the most logical direction we could give to keep you from chomping your own fingertips would be to simply chill out. But let's be honest: that wouldn't be helpful. Because if you could relax, you would. If one could simply decide not to be stressed out and have it be so, then we'd all be laid-back yogis, grinning with blissed-out eyes and smiles from ear to ear. So instead, all we're going to do is advise you to do is divert your nervous attention away from your aching cuticles. Get a stress ball. Fiddle with a paperclip. Do whatever you need to keep your mind -- and, more pressingly, your teeth -- away from your hands.
Sure, it might not solve the crux of the problem, but that's what yoga's for. Or therapy.
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