Anxiety finds its way in every crevice of my life. It started with general uneasiness around large crowds, then escalated to panic attacks in my sophomore year of high school. Panic attacks themselves affect everyone differently, ranging from a racing heart to nausea. Alienated me from social events. I’ve learned it’s easy to rely on something when the world is seemingly crashing around you. For me, the unhealthy tendency came in the form of nail-biting. Anytime I was bored, stressed, or upset, I would bite my nails like a baby teething on a toy. Over and over again, I would tell myself: This is it, seriously. Of course, it never was. 

I truly had enough two months ago and started to actively tell myself biting my nails wasn’t curing my constant anxiety. My mind switched from I need to bite nails to feeling ashamed of the bad habit. Anxiety and bad habits work together, so let’s look at some tips on how to kick a bad habit. 

The First Step

The first step is to recognize any triggers. Pay attention to when you decide to do the habit. It could be during a stressful test, or something as simple as when you are waiting to pick up a food order. You can respond to the trigger in a healthier way once you acknowledge it. Once acknowledged, talk to a trusted friend about them. More importantly, it’s a good idea to hold yourself accountable, as well as recruiting friends to help you stay on track. 

Hobbies Are a Must

I recommend replacing the habit with an activity you enjoy. For example, running is a great tool to work your body. It really helps you feel good. Here’s the thing: life is a mind-game. At any given moment, there are plenty of different influences fighting for your attention. By filling your day with activities that fuel you, there’s hardly any room for negativity. Running, for instance, increases productivity and gives you a ‘Runner’s High.’ It clears your head and exerts just enough energy on your body to give the body a rush of adrenaline. Hobbies keep us mentally occupied and, above all else, they engulf us in rich creativity. 

Tools To Replace a Bad Habit

Above all else, a common tool helpful for distracting your mind is fidget toys or a rubber band. Whenever you feel anxious, try snaping a rubber band on your wrist so it temporarily distracts you from the bad habit. Fidget toys benefit us in the same way, without pinching the skin. These instruments are used to release anxiety in a hasty manner, all while you’re having fun playing with a small widget. 

Now, I cannot stress this enough: it’s okay to mess up! The age-old saying applies perfectly here: recovery is not linear. Some days will be harder than others, but as long as you’re trying your best, the grass will be greener on the other side.

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