*This blog post was written by Jen Deyo, trichster & writer. Though focused on trich, because that is Jen's personal experience, many of the tips here can help you stop skin picking and nail biting!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.)