Coping Strategies for Dealing with BFRBs in Daily Life

Woman with long hair and blue jacket playing with pink fidget spinner.

Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors can be emotionally and physically overwhelming, hence the need for coping strategies to get one through the challenges. It becomes hard to beat these habits due to a lack of awareness and denial. Most individuals will find it challenging to acknowledge their struggles with BFRBs. However, if you struggle with BFRBs, you could benefit from recognizing your triggers and having the tools needed to help you manage them. Let's review some key strategies you can implement to manage BFRBs.  

Learn More About Your Condition   

Knowing your child's condition is just the tip of the iceberg. You must dig deeper into the condition's causes, triggers, and management. A concise understanding of the BFRB condition your child is suffering from helps you make the right decisions and changes in your lifestyle. Knowledge will empower you to create a supportive environment where your child can thrive and unlearn these repetitive behaviors. A supportive environment will also help improve their confidence and reduce the risk of isolation and depression. Having accurate information will also help you know when to seek professional help and be more empathetic about your condition. 

Understand that the Treatment Process Takes Time 

You will need to understand that these habits cannot just stop abruptly. It takes time and dedication to the BFRB treatment process. Therefore, you will need to be more patient with the healing process by taking one day at a time. You will often need to enroll in therapy programs such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Thus, you must give yourself more grace during the healing process by appreciating every milestone towards beating BFRBs. Being too hard on yourself may increase the shame and stigma that you already feel about your condition. Aside from appreciating your progress, it is also best to avoid paying attention to your condition by speaking about it with others, especially your peers, who may not understand your struggles. However, while you may try not to overshare, ensure you are more open with your therapist about your experiences. Being patient means putting less pressure on yourself; thus, you will not have to deal with the vicious cycle around this condition, seeing as stress as a major factor keeps it going. 

Identify your Triggers 

Various factors, including anxiety and stress, often aggravate body-focused repetitive behaviors. Such factors are also known as triggers. Identifying these triggers is often the first step toward healing. Therefore, you need to be more aware of these triggers and how they contribute to the onset and persistence of whichever BFRB condition you are dealing with. Several factors trigger the adoption of BFRBs as a coping mechanism, from visual to tactile and social triggers. All these factors are usually pegged on the environment one lives in. For example, if you deal with anxiety, interacting with new individuals may raise your anxiety levels, resulting in the adoption of these BFRVS as a way of relieving such tensions.

Moreover, others may also use skin picking, hair pulling, or nail biting to drown background distractions, especially when trying to focus. Body Dysmorphic Disorders can also be a trigger, seeing as some may pull their hair or bite the skin if the skin already has blemishes to rectify a preconceived image of themselves. Identifying your specific triggers will help you become more aware of your condition and how to manage them so they do not consume you. Additionally, knowing more about your triggers makes healing easier since you will know which situations to avoid and what to indulge in.  

Find healthy alternative options for self-soothing 

Controlling BFRBs is primarily challenging because it satisfies an individual's psychological needs during stressful or anxious moments. As such, managing BFRBs starts with finding healthy alternatives to manage your triggers to prevent dependence on self-soothing habits. For example, buying a fidget toy is consistently among the best alternatives to self-soothing habits. Find a fidget toy that best suits your condition and that you can easily carry around so that whenever you feel like indulging in a BFRB, you can use it to distract yourself. Staying idle when watching TV, using our phones, or reading a book often aggravates involvement in BFRBs such as nail biting or hair pulling; the fidget toy will intervene during such moments. Also, if you are a chronic lip biter, you can find healthy snacks that can help relieve tension instead of biting your lips. Preferably, crunchy snacks and fruits can be a better option. You can also explore your creative side to keep you busy when you are idle by learning to draw or knit. Boredom is also among the main reasons one might indulge in BFRBs; thus, finding activities to keep you busy will make it much easier to maintain such habits. Noteworthy, these activities stimulate the release of dopamine, a feel-good hormone, and thus, you will get a good feeling whenever you engage in these tactile hobbies instead of engaging in BFRBs, making them a healthier replacement.

Work on your confidence

When battling BFRB conditions, it is common for one to deal with self-esteem issues, usually because one feels like one lacks control over the situation. Furthermore, the confidence issues emanate from one's perceived poor appearance, especially if you bite your lips or pull your hair. The self-esteem becomes more intense if others make negative comments about your appearance. It is notably worse for adolescents who are more conscious about their appearance. Over time, these remarks can lead to depression, anxiety, and even isolation. Therefore, you must be more intentional about working on your confidence, especially during healing. Navigating the social stigma that comes with BFRBs often leads to low self-esteem. However, you can beat such by being more positive and open-minded to finding better coping mechanisms. 

Finding a silver lining to the otherwise detrimental condition will help you remain cheerful throughout the healing process. Struggling with social stigma increases one's stress levels, which is also a trigger, especially since they may be tempted to isolate themselves. To alleviate feelings of isolation, try to find a circle of friends who understand your struggles and can help you through them. You can opt for cosmetic solutions to boost your confidence in severe hair-pulling or nail-biting conditions. For example, you can buy wigs or use acrylic nails. These cosmetic solutions also prevent the habit from advancing since there is no easy access to the hair or nails.  

End Note

One might engage in self-harming habits such as nail biting, skin picking, and hair pulling for different reasons. Still, in most cases, BFRBs come up as a coping mechanism for some social and environmental stressors. Therefore, you need to be more aware of the consistency of these habits and the triggers to develop suitable coping strategies. In severe cases, these habits may lower your quality of life since they affect your social interactions and overall comfort. You should be your first line of action since you understand your triggers better. This means you should find the best strategies to help you manage your condition. Finding healthier alternatives to dealing with BFRBs makes the healing process more effective. 

Self Help Strategies
Hair Pulling
Nail Biting
Skin Picking