I bet you’re biting your nails while reading this! “Are you nervous?” – This is the first question you will hear.
Biting nails is mostly seen as a nervous habit, an act that is done automatically and unconsciously. As a widespread human activity, not only it’s difficult to break, nail biting can lead to health problems.
However, a study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry suggests that nail biting is a sign of perfectionism.
Perfectionism is a personality trait described as a critical inner voice. People who have this personality trait are detail-oriented and make no room for mistakes. Even though perfectionism can lead to motivation, it can also be damaging; it’s linked with anorexia nervosa, depression, suicide.
About the study
Some researchers wanted to prove that nail biting is linked to perfectionism. Therefore, they gathered up 48 people to participate in a study. Half of the participants were chronic nail biters while the other half acted as a control group. They used two models to see the impact of emotions on body-focused repetitive behaviors like nail biting: emotional regulation (ER) and frustrated action (FA).
The emotional regulation model links the body-focused repetitive behaviors with negative emotions, while the frustrated model believes that these behaviors are caused by frustrations, dissatisfaction, boredom, impatience.
What did the researchers find out?
In contrast to the participants who acted as a control group, those who were chronic nail biters were more likely to engage in repetitive behaviors. Also, they were more likely to engage in environments created by stress, boredom, frustration, rather than a relaxing one.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Keiron O’Connor said: “We believe that individuals with these repetitive behaviors may be perfectionistic, meaning that they are unable to relax and to perform a task at a “normal” pace.
“They are therefore prone to frustration, impatience, and dissatisfaction when they do not reach their goals. They also experience greater levels of boredom.”
In other words, nail biting is linked to impatience, frustration, dissatisfaction, and boredom. Therefore, it’s a sign of perfectionism.
How does nail-biting harm your health?
When you bite your nails, you damage the delicate skin beneath your nail. All the bacteria in your mouth can cause great infections, redness, and pain.
Your teeth become misshapen and weakened.
Fingers are a great base for bacteria like E. Coli and salmonella. Through your mouth, they come to your body and harm your health.
-Shame, low self-confidence because of the poor impression.
Also, nail biting is linked to a mental health disorder called Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder which is associated with anxiety and suicide.
How can it be treated?
By wearing gloves, applying a clear, bitter-tasting nail polish, using Cognitive Behavioral therapy, Habit Reversal training, etc.
Well, perfectionism can be a great personality trait…until you let it control your life. Therefore, instead of focusing on details and criticizing yourself, try to relax.
Does this relate to you? Do you consider yourself a perfectionist?