END THE STIGMA: Mental Healthiness for not-just-Tech/Startup Culture

As part of The HabitAware mission to end the stigma around body focused repetitive behaviors (bfrbs like hair pulling / trichotillomania, skin picking / dermatillomania, nail biting / onycophagia), our team coordinates events to share our first hand experience, build understanding around mental health issues & raise donations for TLC Foundation for Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors. 

On Friday 10/13/2017, our cofounder, Aneela, along with Thomas Knoll, Dana Severson & Kimberly Knoll spoke at Twin Cities Startup Week 2017, Health Track event sponsored by Healthcare.MN

The event, "End the Stigma: Mental Healthiness for not-just-Tech/Startup Culture" was widely attended by Minneapolis+St. Paul residents in the tech industry, and had a focus on the impact mental health has on entrepreneurship and vice versa. Although the talk was tailored to this group, I believe anyone with an interest in their mental health will benefit from the information below! 

At this event, we shared our experience with mental health issues and how they link to startups / tech culture. As a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT), Kim also walked our audience through an amazing emotional regulation exercise that attendees now have in their toolkit.

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Entrepreneurship & Mental Illness: Lonely Together

The lifestyle of being an entrepreneur is a bit manic. From ideation to exit, there are so many highs and lows on the journey to starting a company.

While there is likely a genetic pre-disposition to mental health disorders, it’s also likely that those same folks are “wired” for entrepreneurship given their high tolerance for risk-taking & dysfunction (link to article on this) . As Steve Jobs once said:

In our talk, Dana shared how he developed anxiety in college, particularly a fear of flying. But, years later, he was an entrepreneur in a premiere accelerator program, which required flying to San Francisco on a weekly basis.

Although he is now quite outspoken about his mental health afflictions, Dana understands that many entrepreneurs don't want to talk about their conditions. He created Startups Anonymous as an online safe haven where founders could talk openly about their struggles and failures under anonymity.

Why do entrepreneurs feel the need to hide their mental health conditions? Because of the stigma associated with them. The fear is that acknowledging your mental health condition shows weakness & can seed doubt as to your ability for a potential investor, or client.

Let's face it, no one wants to be seen as "flawed."

It is only by talking about our conditions that we will shift this perception & stereotype. The reality is that there are many high-functioning, successful people out there, who just happen to also have mental health conditions.

Should you Advise the Startup or the Entrepreneur?

Much is written about developing a company, but what about developing the founder, the maker, the hacker, the doer?

Happiness does not equal success

That's just what Thomas & Kim do. Their coaching develops the founder as an executive and productive member of society. After both having worked at startups and mentored top tier accelerator programs, like 500 Startups + Techstars, Thomas & Kim recognized a gap in the advisory industry for startups. They spent time in Vegas, where they saw firsthand how a fanatical focus on happiness winds up destroying any chance at being happy and have unfortunately lost more than 1 founder-friend to suicide. Now they hope to help Twin Cities entrepreneurs develop the skills needed to stay financially healthy AND mentally healthy.

As a licensed marriage & family therapist, Kim shared some very important statistics and insights. According to the CDC almost 90% of entrepreneurs will develop anxiety or depression at some point in their career. Their loneliness drives their mental illness. The business world is wrought with frustration, sadness & pain. And often times, it's difficult to share this with friends. Firstly, they just may not understand (esp. if they are not entrepreneurs themselves). Secondly, fear & shame hold people back.

Startup culture dictates that you must always be "killing it!" So most put on this facade because of the gap between perceived reality vs. true reality. An entrepreneur may wonder, "Why is everyone else doing amazing?...I can't let it out that I am not." And in doing so, that entrepreneur will decide to withdraw and hide out of shame. Much like a person with trichotillomania may hide their hair pulling secret.

Emotional Regulation for Business Regulation

Entrepreneurs are supposed to be business savvy & rationale decision makers. For most people, the instinct is to avoid, or push down negative emotions like stress, fear, sadness or frustration. But the best way to overcome a "negative" feeling is to allow the feeling to occur - to acknowledge it, identify it, and FEEL it, without judgement.

Daily life of a entrepreneur is riddled with "fire drills." The knee-jerk reaction is to alleviate the anxiety or fear brought on by these "fire drills" by dealing with the issue immediately. And when you put out that fire, it's quite a rush! So you continue to feed into the cycle and suddenly, your whole day is filled with fire drills.

As Kim pointed out, no decision is made without emotion. So we need to learn to regulate those emotions! This means training ourselves to be aware of when our emotions are getting uncontrolled. Then one must take stock of what is really going on. What are you really feeling - and where in the body is it manifesting? 

Deep breathing is an important tool to help calm the body, mind & soul. Kim recommends breathing in deeply for 4 seconds and breathing out for 8 seconds. My personal favorite is thinking of it as smelling a hot, delicious slice of pizza (breathing in) and then blowing out birthday candles (breathing out). Thomas referenced the ever-helpful Daniel Tiger in learning how to take control of your emotions:

Kim also took us all through a mindfulness exercise.

Here are a few other key takeaways from the session:

  • Secrets make you sick
  • If your company is everything to you & you are needed to run your company, then your mental health is the most important thing of all!

It's OK to say that things are not OK!

Whether you are a founder or not, if you find yourself in a negative headspace, there is help and it is OK to seek it out. Here’s a quick primer on some of the more common mental health disorders:

WHAT IS TRICHOTILLOMANIA? WHAT IS DERMATILLOMANIA? WHAT ARE BFRBS? 

Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) are the most common disorder you've never heard of. These issues are related to excessive self-grooming, anxiety management, or sensory stimulation. The most common BFRBs are trichotillomania (hair pulling), dermatillomania (skin picking), onychophagia (nail biting), dermatophagia (skin biting), rhinotillexomania (nose picking), as well as cheek biting and joint cracking. These behaviors tend to be chronic, and those who have them report feeling pleasure and/or pain from these habits. Although many people with BFRBs want to stop these behaviors, they are compelled to perform the behavior. Many hide the behaviors out of shame and embarrassment.

Additionally, many sufferers are not aware of them. Keen by HabitAware is a smart bracelet that uses custom gesture detection to help sufferers built their awareness and over time empowers them to take control of these behaviors.

WHAT IS TRICHOTILLOMANIA? WHAT IS DERMATILLOMANIA? WHAT ARE BFRBS? 

Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) are the most common disorder you've never heard of. These issues are related to excessive self-grooming, anxiety management, or sensory stimulation. The most common BFRBs are trichotillomania (hair pulling), dermatillomania (skin picking), onychophagia (nail biting), dermatophagia (skin biting), rhinotillexomania (nose picking), as well as cheek biting and joint cracking. These behaviors tend to be chronic, and those who have them report feeling pleasure and/or pain from these habits. Although many people with BFRBs want to stop these behaviors, they are compelled to perform the behavior. Many hide the behaviors out of shame and embarrassment.

Additionally, many sufferers are not aware of them. Keen by HabitAware is a smart bracelet that uses custom gesture detection to help sufferers built their awareness and over time empowers them to take control of these behaviors.

 
 

Resources:

TLC Foundation for Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors

Canadian BFRB Support Network

PickingMe Foundation

WHAT IS OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can cause life disrupting anxiety. Everyone has intrusive thoughts sometimes, but when you have OCD it is invasive and won't go away. Examples include excessive concerns with right and wrong, fear of harming others, perfectionism, and contamination. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors of thoughts used to get rid of an obsession. The more you engage in a compulsion, the worse and stronger the obsession gets. People with OCD feel the need to engage in compulsions in order to get rid of the obsessive thoughts and the accompanying paralyzing and life disrupting anxiety they're experiencing. Examples of compulsions include mental reviewing, seeking assurance checking.

Resources:

International OCD Foundation

The OCD Stories Podcast

WHAT ARE ANXIETY + DEPRESSION?

"Anxiety disorders are characterized by a general feature of excessive fear (i.e. emotional response to perceived or real threat) and/or anxiety (i.e. worrying about a future threat) and can have negative behavioral and emotional consequences." (Source)

"Depression is a condition in which a person feels discouraged, sad, hopeless, unmotivated, or disinterested in life in general for more than two weeks and when the feelings interfere with daily activities. Major depression is a treatable illness that affects the way a person thinks, feels, behaves, and functions. At any point in time, 3 to 5 percent of people suffer from major depression; the lifetime risk is about 17 percent." (Source)

Resources:

Anxiety & Depression Association of America

Anxiety in Teens

WHAT IS ADHD/ADD?

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder. They are commonly used to reference the same condition.

The three main symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivityimpulsivity and inattention. All of these impact behavior, mood and thinking. That’s why ADHD meets the criteria for mental illness.

Resources:

ADDitude

General Mental Health Resources:

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 

Mental Health in the Tech Community:

Open Source Mental Illness (OSMI)

Local Therapists, specializing in the mental health needs for entrepreneurs:

The power of music:

Lastly, I leave you with this: Music has the ability to empower sufferers and break down stigma. Infusing the mental health conversation into pop culture is a crucial part of making progress. 

Logic ft. Alessia Cara and Khalid perform "1-800-273-8255" at the 2017 MTV VMAs. 

Be "alive today."

with love & awareness,

Aneela

 

 

 

PLEASE REMEMBER: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

DO NOT WAIT TO SEEK HELP.

PREVENTATIVE CARE IS THE BEST CARE.


About Keen by HabitAware

HabitAware makes Keen, a smart bracelet that helps manage nail biting, hair pulling, thumb sucking, and other subconscious behaviors. Customized gesture detection brings you into awareness and helps you develop healthier habits.

Order now & sign up for our e-newsletter for helpful strategies, news & important product updates.

7 Reasons People Choose Keen

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I know that our customers purchase Keen for different reasons. Being the curious person that I am, I decided to look through all our testimonials and reviews to see if I could find out some of those reasons (above & beyond the "I want to take control of my hair pulling / skin picking / nail biting!).

Almost all our customer emails / fb messages / social posts are tear jerkers. And almost all have the same common themes of hope & relief that Keen was made for us to help stop hair pulling (trichotillomania), or help stop nail biting (onychophagia), or help stop skin picking (dermatillomania).

And yeah, sure there was a bit of skepticism too - if a device would really work. But all in, I saw a commitment to Keen, and more importantly a commitment to bettering oneself. And my, oh my, what progress our Keen family is making!!!

I hope YOU, dear reader-on-the-fence, will join them on the journey to awareness. After all, Keen is made for YOU by ONE OF YOU!

Join our community of thousands and get your Keen here

The top 7 reasons why people choose Keen:

1. You build awareness with Keen.

After every detection of the behavior, you have to press Keen’s button to acknowledge and log your behavior. Psychologists say that acknowledgement is the key to building awareness.

See how psychologist, Dr. Ali Mattu, uses awareness to treat BFRBs.

For the first time in my life, I have been able to watch a show without pulling my hair. For the first time in my life, I have been able to study without pulling my hair.
— @essentiallykailey, Instagram
When I wear them consistently (a struggle for me, i will admit) my brain seems to know that my arm will buzz if I lift it. It is extremely helpful to not even have my hand go to my head-when it is already there, it makes avoidance even harder. But with Keen, my hand doesn’t get that far.
— Tessa H., Facebook

2. You can visibly track your progress.

With the Keen app, you can track each time you do your behavior. Watch that daily tally go down as you build those awareness muscles. 💪

That is a cool thing about the bracelet and app though—it still gives you the responsibility of logging when you did pick or pull or whatever it is and it’s super simple. Just press the button on the side.
—  @laura_barton, Instagram
Being able to see the progress and each date shows the time the offense occurred really helps to be able to figure out what triggers the behaviors.
— Jenny K., Facebook

3. You can pick the style that fits YOUR style.

Maybe you’re an active person, so you choose our silicone Sporty Keen. Fancy event coming up? No problem, our Stylish Keen has got you covered.

Check out the different Keen styles >>

We've also designed Keen to be discreet, so when you say it's your "activity tracker," you're not lying!

“I have the sporty version and it is very comfortable to wear and not hard to put on or take off.”
— Anonymous, private email
“With this bracelet, I don’t have to tell my teacher because it looks like a Fitbit watch and people won’t ask what it is.”
— Anonymous, private email

4. You can train Keen for 4 different areas.

We highly encourage all in our Keen family to start by training just ONE gesture for positive behavior change. This is so you can get to know yourself and you behavior a little more. Because after all, its ALL about AWARENESS. But we know that sometimes we have more than one behavior we are trying to kick, which is why we've developed Keen to be trained for up to 4 areas at a time. This, combined with our gesture nick-naming feature allows you to have different areas for different times of day or different environments (think work vs. home on the couch). 

I have two bands. With the bracelets I programmed them quickly for four of my exact pulling gestures . The customization is easy. After that the vibration alerted me each time I was pulling or going into that gesture.
— Rebecca F., Facebook

5. You can relax with Keen’s breathing light.

Building awareness is nothing if you don't learn to REPLACE the urge with something more positive. That's why we've included a "replacement strategy" right on our smart bracelet. By holding the button on Keen for 3 vibrations, you’re able to do a one-minute deep breathing exercise alongside Keen’s light to calm your body and mind.

[My son] also loves the lighted breathing feature, which has helped him avoid full-blown panic attacks. Today, he no longer has the urge to pull and his hair is slowly growing back.
— Anonymous, private email

6. Your child can wear Keen.

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Keen is developed with kids in mind. 

If your child is ready for positive behavior modification, Keen is the smart device for them to build those awareness muscles. There are two main reasons why this is true. 

Firstly, our small sporty bracelet is designed with kid-sized wrists.

Secondly, Keen's gesture detection is standalone. So, you don't always need a Bluetooth connection to the phone app. This means mom & dad can be at work, while a child wearing Keen can be at school.

We are loving ours, I’m so thankful to NOT be saying “ get your hand out of your mouth”, so easy to train, our 13 year trained his own! Thank you for your love and dedication!
— Doolie, HabitAware blog comment

7. You'll love HabitAware’s customer service. 

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Have questions about Keen? The cofounding team personally responds to each and every one of our emails and posts on social media. Need help getting set up? We do video chats (for free!) to walk you through the finer points of Keen's custom gesture detection, Motion Fingerprint™.

Why? Because we truly care! As a person who grew up dealing with hair pulling disorder, Aneela, our cofounder & resident "trichster" never wants another person to feel the way she did growing up.  

Additionally, one of our friends Karla, has been so inspired by our mission she's joined our team as Director of Customer Success! It's our collective mission to get you set up for success with Keen!

Oh, and, if you’re not satisfied, we have a 90-day money back guarantee.

I’ve emailed the creator a few times with questions and she’s been very helpful. I don’t wish trich on anyone but I think it’s a blessing that the creator understands trich from a personal experience. She gets it and because of that she had the ability to create this to help herself testing out undoubtedly many things to get to this.
— Rebecca F., Facebook
Customer service is excellent- they will even offer to set up a video call if you’re having trouble with the bracelet.
— Annalee F., Facebook

Did I miss a reason why YOU chose Keen? Please let me know in the comments! 

with love & keen awareness,

Aneela


About Keen by HabitAware

HabitAware makes Keen, a smart bracelet that helps manage nail biting, hair pulling, thumb sucking, and other subconscious behaviors. Customized gesture detection brings you into awareness and helps you develop healthier habits.

Order now & sign up for our e-newsletter for helpful strategies, news & important product updates.

#BFRBWeek 2017: Our favorite BFRB Advocates & "Storytellers"

It's BFRB Awareness Week 2017 and we want to thank all those in the community for making some noise! 

One of the best ways to learn about ANYTHING and overcome anything is through story-telling.  

If you want to better understand how Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) shape (or distort) people's lives, I highly recommend these books & films.

Most links lead to the TLC Foundation for BFRBs store, so if you choose to purchase one (or more) of these, you'll also be supporting the only American non-profit funding research for a cure!

Trichster: The Documentary

Film by Jillian Corsie, Director/Producer/Editor

"Trichster follows seven individuals, ranging from eight years old to late twenties, as they navigate the complicated emotions surrounding trichotillomania and the effect it has on their daily lives. Whether dealing with family and friends to budding relationships and careers, each is affected differently and have unique obstacles to overcome. Ultimately each must decide how much they allow their disorder to define who they are as people."

Doesn't It Hurt?: Confessions of Compulsive Hair Pullers

Book by Sandy Rosenblatt, Editor, Blogger & BFRB Advocate

A compelling compilation of stories by 15 bfrb'ers from around the world. Each contributor shares their personal journey with hair pulling disorder, some will leave you in tears, but all will leave you with hope. 

Life is Trichy

Book by Lindsey Muller, M.S., LMHC, Mental Health Therapist

Life is Trichy is a true story, following Lindsey Muller on her journey with trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder). For Lindsey, it began at a very young age, resulting in years of hiding, as well as a desire to understand more about the behavior so that she could treat others with the same challenges.

#CompulsiveSkinPicking

Art by Liz Atkin, Artist & BFRB Advocate

Liz Atkin found healing through art. Growing up as a skin-picker, her world was very enclosed. In finding her passion for creativity, she also found her way out of the clutches of skin-picking. Her work has been on exhibition around the world and today, Liz speaks out to raise awareness of the condition.

Forever Marked: A Dermatillomania Diary

Book by Angela Hartlin, Mental Health Advocate

FOREVER MARKED: A Dermatillomania Diary shares Angela Hartlin's harrowing account of a young woman who suffers in silence with an array of mental health disorders. Her story follows her struggle with skin picking disorder, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, self-hate and isolation. Despite the adversity, Angela is no longer suffering in hiding. She has worked hard to take back control of her life and is a source of hope for anyone who may feel "Forever Marked."

Skin Picking: The Freedom to Finally Stop

Book by Annette Pasternak, PhD

Annette's book teaches you the tools needed to overcome BFRBs. It also includes her personal story & struggle with skin picking. 

No better way to find help with a struggle, than from someone who's been there, understands it & has seen her way through! 

Project Dermatillomania: The Story Behind our Scars (2014)

& Project Dermatillomania: Written on our Skin (2017)

Book by Laura Barton, Editor, Blogger, CanadianBFRB Exec Board & BFRB Advocate

Available on Amazon, Blurb, TLC & more.

Available on Amazon, Blurb, TLC & more.

Project Dermatillomania is a labor of BFRB Advocate and writer Laura Barton. She compiled and edited these two collections in an effort to shine a light on the real life stories of those affected by skin picking (excoriation disorder, or dermatillomania).

 

 

 

Story-telling offers a way to share, learn and grow. As I've personally found in sharing my own trich story, it also offers the storyteller an outlet to begin the healing process. I encourage you to pick up a pen, a paintbrush or camera and let your story out!

With love & awareness,

Aneela

About HabitAware
HabitAware's smart bracelet, Keen, helps you become aware of your subconscious behavior (whether it be hair pulling, nail biting, skin picking, thumb-sucking or another). With awareness, you are able to gain control, retrain your brain and replace the behavior with a healthier one. Check out habitaware.com for more info & to order, or email Aneela@habitaware.com with questions.

5 Ways to Make Noise During #BFRBWeek

October 1st - 7th is BFRB Awareness Week.

We need YOUR help to make some noise.

📢 📢 📢

Do you remember that time when you didn't know pulling out your hair, picking at your skin or biting on your nails was a THING, like a MENTAL HEALTH THING?

Do you remember that time when you couldn't pronounce "trichotillomania," "dermatillomania," "onychophagia," or "body focused repetitive behavior" without fumbling?

Do you remember that time when you felt ALONE, ASHAMED & EMBARRASSED?

Well, there are still MILLIONS out there stuck in "that time." With 1 in 25 Americans suffering from BFRBs, your story is bound to hit home for a handful of loved ones who need to hear your words of strength & courage.

Your bravery and voice are needed to end the stigma.

Join us and #SeeMeStand (with pride)!!

 
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If you are you ready to join us, here are some ideas:

5 ways to raise awareness about body focused repetitive behaviors

1) Share Your Story on Social Media

  1. 💬 Pick your poison: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat
  2. 😃 Take a picture (maybe it's with Keen, or a fidget toy!, but definitely with a SMILE)
  3. 📝 Write your story
  4. 📬 Click "post" or "tweet" or "send" or "snap?!"

Here's an example of one brave soul:

 
In her post, Ellen shares her life-long struggle with trichotillomania, finding HabitAware & why she joined the Keen team!

In her post, Ellen shares her life-long struggle with trichotillomania, finding HabitAware & why she joined the Keen team!

 

Not yet ready to approach the megaphone?

No worries, at the least share your story with ME!

Why? Well for one it's cathartic. Two, the more we share, the less stigma there will be around the disorders. Increased awareness equals increased understanding, increased support, increased funding, and maybe even one day, a cure.

So, click the button below, let your story out & let me be your voice. I'll share a select few via Facebook Live!

2) Ask your local paper to write about trichotillomania, dermatillomania or another body focused repetitive behavior.

  1. 📰 Go to your local paper's website
  2. ⏬ Scroll to the bottom footer & find their "contact us" section
  3. 📧 Hopefully find an email address where you can share your story
  4. 😘 Our gratitude if you include how Keen is helping you stop hair pulling / skin picking / nail biting.

3) Get your school talking about & supporting mental health.

Reach out to your (or your child's) science teacher, health teacher or guidance counselor. See if you can do an informational session in one of your classes. 

🎨 Or dust off your art skills and design a poster for your classroom or hallway so classmates can learn more about bfrb's on their own time and, hey, maybe you'll get ⭐️extra credit too!

This idea is not just limited to school! Maybe your talk will be at your college, your office, your church/temple, or other local community group. And don't forget, BFRB.org has a ton of resources for your next speaking event!

4) Educate your primary care physician.

🏥 Yep. That's right. Tell your doctor. You see, "trichotillomania" and "dermatillomania" get, like, maybe 3 sentences in a textbook sometime during a medical professional's YEARS of training. Remind them what it is, some of the classic signs & how folks are getting help these days (psychological treatment, our Keen smart behavior tracking bracelet, NAC, fidget toys etc.) Educate your doctor so they can help others!

5) Host a walk-a-thon fundraiser

💸 Quick! Gather some friends & host a walk-a-thon at your local park before it's too cold! Ask your friends to donate to TLC Foundation for BFRBs, Canadian BFRB Support Network or PickingMe Foundation. Make a day of it with a pot-luck picnic, t-shirts & signs. Be sure to tell all those people in the park that are staring at your group WHY you are walking -- you never know, with 1 in 25 picking, biting or pulling, you may help a stranger learn that they are not alone with their BFRB!

 

A pic from a walk hosted by my friend & trichster "Jersey" Christina Lang hosted a while back. Found here.

A pic from a walk hosted by my friend & trichster "Jersey" Christina Lang hosted a while back. Found here.

Have other ideas on how to raise awareness? Share them in the comments!


About Keen by HabitAware

 
keen-habitaware-smart-behavior-change-bracelet-hair-pulling-nail-biting-skin-picking.
 
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HabitAware makes Keen, a smart bracelet that helps manage nail biting, hair pulling, thumb sucking, and other subconscious behaviors. Customized gesture detection brings you into awareness and helps you develop healthier habits.

Order now & sign up for our e-newsletter for helpful strategies, news & important product updates.

Guest Post: 7 Trich-Taming Tricks

* This blog post was written by Jen Deyo, trichster & writer. *

Although focused on trich, because that is Jen's personal experience, many of the tips here can help you stop skin picking and nail biting! If you are ready to stop hair pulling (trichotillomania), stop nail biting or stop skin picking (dermatillomania), check out Keen.

You are not alone.

There are millions of people who pull their hair. Take a deep breath and read that again:

You are not alone. 

What you are is capable of change. Big change. Change that will improve your life and boost your confidence.

I’m not a doctor, a therapist, or a self-help guru. I’m just a girl who started pulling her hair when I was 12. Now, at 34, I still deal with urges. I have bad days where I pull. But I also have days where I can control the urge through understanding and utilizing the following tools.

But this is not about me. It’s about you.

Your hair, your control, your happiness. Let’s get all that back. Here's 7 ways to get you there. 

It’ll be work, but you’ve got this.

7 Tricks to Take on Trich

Photo by Keilidh Ewan on Unsplash

Photo by Keilidh Ewan on Unsplash

1. Make a Spectacle

If you pull your eyelashes, try a new pair of glasses, even if you don’t need them. There are plenty of companies that sell non-prescription lenses and having a barrier between your hands and your eyes gives you a moment to make a better choice. Plus, it’ll give you a new confident look, and once you’ve got your new full set of lashes, you’re going to want to draw attention to your beautiful eyes. 

Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

2. Fidget Away

Keep your hands busy with fidget toys. Dollar stores sell cheap ones that have the sensory attributes you crave. Some toys (such as these) can replicate the sensation of pulling, so stash them everywhere: in the car, on the bedside table, near your computer, wherever.

Photo by Luca Iaconelli on Unsplash

3. Keep it Clean

Keep your face and eyes clean. Makeup and eyeliner can create a dirty/itchy sensation and draw more attention to your eyes. An innocent scratch of the eye or getting rid of a clump of mascara could morph into an hour long pulling session. Trust me. I've been there. Keep these eye wipes in your bag when you’re on the go.

Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash

Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash

4. Mind Your Mantras

I used to think mantras were a bunch of BS. But a therapist suggested repeating “Not helpful” when pulling. It actually reinforced that it wasn’t helpful – pulling didn’t alleviate stress, or solve the problem. In fact, it made new problems and magnified the stress and shame. There is just something about hearing your own voice offer advice that is powerful and effective.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

5. Feel the Feels 

Your emotions are the foundation of why you pull. When anxiety, stress, sadness, or anger bottle up, you pull to release it. Instead, try feeling the feelings. Cry, yell, punch a pillow, cry some more. If you can let yourself feel what you’re feeling, there’s a good chance the urge subsides.

Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash

Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash

6. Be Kind to You!

Keep your behaviors in perspective and be gentle with yourself and your setbacks. Let a pulling episode be just that—a part of your day, not your whole day. It’s a part of who you are, not who you are. You’re not a failure when you stumble, you’re brave because you keep trying. You’re struggling with something—you’re human. Be proud that you want to make a change for yourself. Keep trying. Keep feeling. Keep believing you can change.

Photo by HabitAware

Photo by HabitAware

7. Build Keen Awareness

Think “fit bit” for body-focused repetitive behaviors. HabitAware's Keen bracelet connects to an app that learns your behaviors and vibrates to make you aware when you’re doing them. It learns multiple actions so if you pull hair from different parts of the body, it’s got you covered.

 

 

Change Your Mind and Your Mind Will Change

Like the mantras, at first I didn't believe. As a more conscious puller I didn't think a habit awareness tracker was going to be effective. I thought the vibration wouldn't be enough of a deterrent. But after a conversation with Aneela I had a better understanding and decided to give Keen another try. After just a week, I started keeping my hands away from my face even when I wasn’t wearing the bracelet! Talk about the ultimate trick to take on trich and retrain your brain!

I'd love to know what you're doing to take control of your trichotillomania, dermatillomania or other behavior. Please share some of your tricks to "kick trich" in the comments!

If you are ready to stop hair pulling, stop skin picking or stop nail biting, click here to order Keen now. 

Sincerely,

Jen Deyo

About HabitAware:

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HabitAware makes Keen, a smart bracelet that helps manage nail biting, hair pulling, thumb sucking, and other subconscious behaviors. Customized gesture detection brings you into awareness and helps you develop healthier habits.

About the author:

Jen Deyo is a trichster, writer, editor & entrepreneur from the East Coast (US). She is currently working on a novel about a teenager with trichotillomania. She is also part of the Keen family, having almost returned her Keen for too many false alarms, Jen gave us a chance to help her get set up for success. Thank you 🙏 Jen for giving us that opportunity and taking the time to share your tips for overcoming trichotillomania.

(Most photos courtesy of Unsplash.)