Help for nervous habit?

Over the last few years, I have developed a terrible habit of constantly nibbling at my lips and inner cheeks. Lately it seems to be getting worse. I often have headaches at night because I’ve been chewing at myself all day.

I know it looks awful, but I just can’t seem to stop unless I concentrate on nothing else…and even then I feel tensed to begin again as soon as my attention wanders.

I’ve thought about chewing gum or sucking on candy, but those aren’t habits I want to pick up either. Does anyone have any suggestions, or barring that, tell me about your own nervous habits and experiences in trying to overcome them.


Ugh. I do the same thing, especially when I’m anxious. I just got rid of some nasty canker sores I got from eating too many almonds and now, in the past few days, I’ve shredded myself up again. I also twirl my hair, and jiggle my feet but I can suppress those more easily.

I’ve found that sipping tea or something that takes time to drink will help me with the habit. Also getting up and doing something more physical than reading or writing helps.

I used to do this a lot until I started wearing lip gloss instead of lip balm. It costs more than I’d like it to (but it’s fabulous) and I’ve stopped biting my lower lip because I don’t want to waste the stuff.

The nervous habit I actually enjoy is pacing or rocking from foot to foot. When I need to stand still, though, I rub my ring finger with the tip of my thumb. That lets off nervous energy without being intrusive to others’ space or inviting notice (I think).

I pick at my eyelashes. It’s worse when I’m reading or trying to concentrate on code.

I had a little success at cutting back by forcing myself to get up and go look in a mirror every time I catch myself doing it. It helps to visually confirm that I don’t have a loose eyelash or a mascara clump and so there’s no *reason *to be picking at them.

Like **cher3 **suggested, maybe try drinking some water every time you catch yourself doing it?

I stopped nibbling my cheeks just by telling myself “NO!” firmly every time I caught myself doing it. It took several months, but I did stop completely.

Sorry. No cool trick for this one, just discipline.

I’m willing to try just about anything. This is getting out of control! So far, that finger trick of rucciface’s seems to have possibilities…

Try keeping an elastic band around your wrist. When you catch yourself biting, pull the band and let it go. The (very mild) burst of pain on your wrist should take away the desire to do the biting.

I’ve seen the elastic band trick recommended for lots of things like this so it could be worth a try!

ETA: I bite the inside of my lip too and I find what works for me is to try and stop the first time I start. Otherwise, once I start nibbling, it’s very hard to stop so I do sympathise with you.

Several antidepressants, including luvox and prozac, have been shown to be effective in reducing this behavior. When combined with a behavior modification program, the result is usually more successful than the either method individually.

The finger trick sounds like transferring one nervous tic to another, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t chew my lips and cheeks, but I suck my teeth. I worried that it is a weird habit, but my husband tells me he can’t tell when I’m doing it at all, and as far as I know, it has no consequences (except possibly cleaner teeth :smiley: ). It’s like correcting negative thinking; you don’t just stop thinking negatively, but you replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Maybe you could adapt your tic to something more positive.

I’ve found meditation to work quite well in getting rid of some of my nervous habits and tics. It relaxes you and puts you in tune with yourself. You don’t have to do it for hours every day. I used to go for twenty minutes or so in the evenings, and it worked wonders.