Guest Post By Mia Barnes
Everyone has “something”, that thing they do to self soothe. But not always are these “somethings” healthy for our mind or body. Specifically, body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) like chewing your nails, pulling your hair or picking at your skin can make you feel ashamed or create open wounds. If you have one of these common conditions, you’re not alone. Find out how a healthy daily routine can improve your mental and physical health.
Photo by Brad Neathery
1. Encourage Yourself With Journal Entries
Negative thoughts can cloud your judgment because they happen so quickly within your stream of consciousness. Journaling is an excellent way to get those thoughts on paper and learn from them. Use your daily entries to spot mental health trends that affect your BFRB, like more stressful days correlating with more intense picking or pulling.
As you reflect and learn to spot the thoughts that trigger your BFRB, your journal will also become a source of encouragement. You’ll see evidence of how you’re progressing and know if you’re on the right track. Journaling is always part of a healthy daily routine because it regulates your mental health, even when you’re no longer dealing with unhealthy habits.
Photo by Kevin Laminto
2. Start a Skin Care Routine
It’s more tempting to pick at your skin when you have breakouts or dry patches. Your new routine might include improved skin care. Think about how you take care of your skin currently and build a new daily routine that features helpful tools like moisturizers, exfoliants and cleansers. And don’t underestimate the power of staying hydrated as another way to care for your skin! When your skin finds its balance, your biggest BFRB temptations just may disappear.
3. Meditate to Calm Your Thoughts
Exercising takes many forms, so you don’t just have to go to the gym to release built-up tension or anxiety. You can also control your heart rate through meditation by learning how to breathe slowly and deeply. Calm your thoughts by meditating while walking around your neighborhood or practicing yoga. As your racing thoughts begin to settle, you’ll feel more in control of your BFRB.
Photo by Jamie Street
4. Sleep Better to Worry Less
If you don’t get at least seven hours of sleep every night, you’ll become more prone to anxiety because your body hasn’t been able to reset its primary functions. You’ll remain highly stressed on a cellular level, which weakens your mind through increased exhaustion. Try to get a full night’s sleep every night to reduce your anxiety and better control your BFRB.
Photo by Brooke Lark
5. Eat Healthier to Feel Stronger
BFRBs are a subconscious way to make yourself feel better. The habit might give you a sense of control or soothe you by seemingly taking care of a problem like overgrown cuticles. If your body doesn’t feel off, you won’t need to compensate with destructive habits.
Provide your body the nutrition it needs to remain physically and mentally strong by avoiding processed foods and an imbalanced diet. Eat whole foods, avoid added sugars, and drink plenty of water throughout the day to fuel your body and reach your mental health goals more easily.
Photo by Kyle Gregory Devaras
6. Learn More About Yourself - and your BFRB
The anxiety that created and continues your BFRB may come from a spiritual or personal growth imbalance. It’s scary when your identity feels like a mystery. Thankfully, you don’t need to go back to school or radically change your life to solve this source of stress. Start a new daily routine that includes efforts to learn more about yourself.
Read books on your interests and try new things like biking or knitting. You may discover an activity you love. While you learn about yourself and experience personal growth, your newfound confidence will become an anchor for your mental health that helps you get through turbulent times without debilitating behaviors.
When it comes to your BFRB, learning when it happens is crucial to overcoming the trance-like nature of the hair pulling, skin picking or nail biting. Awareness is the first step to unlocking real-time control and understanding your in-the-moment triggers.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez
7. Socialize to Distract Yourself
Loneliness can increase your BFRB’s intensity because it’s a source of anxiety. Your mental health can restore itself if you add socializing to your weekly routine. Video chat with a friend or meet a family member for lunch. Even if you only see a loved one for a few minutes, you’ll feel more at peace and less likely to engage with your BFRB because the isolation-related anxiety lessens.
Start a Healthy Daily Routine
Unwanted behaviors don’t have to be a permanent part of your life. Use these tips to discover how a healthy daily routine can control a BFRB. As your mind and body benefit from an improved diet, regular exercise and even time with friends, you’ll feel less inclined to continue with your BFRBs because you’ll ground yourself in healthy habit replacements.
About the Author, Mia Barnes
Mia Barnes is a health and wellness journalist who focuses on mental health and natural healing. She's the Editor-in-Chief at BodyMind.com. When she’s not writing or editing, you can usually find Mia on a run, spending time with her dog or visiting a local coffee shop. She hails from Northeastern Pennsylvania and loves a good adventure in the fresh outdoors.