If you often find yourself caught in the cycle of skin picking, you're not alone. Like nail biting and hair pulling, dermatillomania is another Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior (BFRBs). But there's a powerful approach to help you manage it — habit reversal training. What is Habit Reversal Training? Let’s take a closer look.
Identifying Skin Picking Patterns
To change a habitual behavior, you need to understand it. Here's how you can begin assessing your skin picking patterns:
- Keep a Habit Diary: Start by tracking when and where you pick your skin. Note the time of day, what you were doing, and how you were feeling at that moment.
- Identify Triggers: Look for patterns in your habit diary. Common triggers might include stress, boredom, certain activities, or even specific environments.
- Connect with Your Feelings: Pay attention to your emotional state. Are you anxious or upset when you pick? Noticing these emotions is crucial to understanding what took you off your baseline of calm
- Physical Sensations: Sometimes the urge to pick is preceded by physical sensations on your skin, like bumps, dry skin, pimples or hairs. Be aware of these skin picking triggers.
- Disruptions in Routine: Changes in your daily routine may contribute to increased skin picking incidents. Keep an eye on how such changes affect you.
Understanding why you pick your skin is more than recognizing the environmental and physical cues but also confronting the psychological elements that underpin the habit. Through HRT, you can start to replace these subconscious routines with actions that contribute to your wellbeing.
What is Habit Reversal Therapy?
Habit Reversal Therapy or Training (HRT) is a behavioral therapy approach designed to help individuals identify and change unwanted habits or repetitive behaviors. It is often used to address conditions like tic disorders, nail-biting, hair-pulling (trichotillomania), and other repetitive behaviors. Here are the general steps involved in Habit Reversal Training:
The first step is to increase awareness of the habit or behavior. This involves helping you recognize when you are engaging in skin picking.
HabitAware’s Keen 2 bracelet can track unwanted movements, and gently remind you when you’re falling into them.
Competing Response Training
Identify a "competing response" that is incompatible with the unwanted skin picking. This means finding an action that cannot coexist with the behavior. Clenching one’s fists is a popular competing response, you can go one step further by choosing an action that cannot coexist with the behavior AND calms the triggers, feelings or sensations that initiated the picking session. HabitAware’s behavior change e-course details how to identify these healthy replacement strategies.
Motivation and Community
Find a community to motivate you in Competing Response Training. Our helpful online community, The BFRB Change Collective builds you up and supports you every step of the way.
Developing Awareness and Implementing Replacement Behaviors
Introducing replacement behaviors gives you an alternative, healthier way to cope with the urge to pick:
- Use stress balls or fidget toys: If bored, you can keep your restless hands busy with an interesting object (fidget) or hobby (knitting).
- Apply lotion or hand cream: If triggered by dryness, then moisturizing your hands or skin can create a sensory experience that deters picking.
- Exercise: Negative emotion triggers can typically be relieved with physical activity, which is scientifically proven to reduce stress.
Creating a Habit Reversal Plan
Habit Reversal starts with a plan. Here are some things you can do to create your own:
- Define your goal: Be clear on what you want to achieve. For instance, less skin picking in two weeks.
- Set up a support system: Tell friends or family about your plan and how they can help you. Remember, HabitAware’s change collective is here to help.
- Track your progress: Keep a record of your success and challenges.
- Be prepared for setbacks: Plan for possible hurdles and ways to overcome them.
Stay positive. Keeping an optimistic outlook can greatly increase your chances of long-term relief from skin picking.
Support Systems in Habit Reversal Training
When you're working to change a habit like skin picking, having a support system can play a powerful role in your success. Habit reversal training (HRT) is a journey, and having others to walk with you can make all the difference. Here's how a solid network can help you along:
- Shared Experiences: You're not alone. Connecting with others who understand what you're going through can provide you with a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation.
- Encouragement and Motivation: Friends, family, or group members can offer encouragement on tough days and celebrate your victories, big or small.
- Accountability: Knowing others are there to support you can help keep you on track with your HRT plan.
- Insight and Tips: Sometimes, the best advice comes from those who have been in your shoes and can share what worked for them.
Keen2 by HabitAware
Overcoming skin picking through habit reversal training isn't always smooth sailing. Here’s a two-pronged approach to help you face setbacks.
- Handling Setbacks with Resilience:
- Reframe your thinking: View setbacks not as failures but as learning opportunities.
- Evaluate what led to the setback: Understand the trigger to better prepare for next time.
- Adjust your plan as needed: Be flexible and willing to tweak your strategies.
- Embrace Helpful Technology:
- Keen2 Smartwatch: Our smartwatch habit tracker is your personal awareness coach, alerting you when you start to pick at your skin. See why thousands of people use it.
Learning and Growing Together
Taking the first step towards managing skin picking through habit reversal training is a significant achievement. Remember, mastering these techniques is part of an ongoing journey. Grow from each experience, celebrate your victories, and always be kind to yourself as you work towards a life free of skin picking.Want to explore more about how HabitAware can support your journey? Visit our website to discover the innovative Keen2 Smartwatch, join our recovery eCourse, or connect with our virtual peer coaching and vibrant community. Your path to relief from skin picking is just a click away.