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BFRB Tips

How EFT Tapping Can Help with Your BFRBs

Have you ever heard of the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), aka tapping? I keep hearing about this, also in combination with BFRBs, but I have never tried it.

So, when I learned that Andrea from Happy While Healing Disorders (BFRB blog and recourses) uses EFT tapping to cope with her hair pulling, I wanted to know more. 

I did a little interview with Andrea, who gave me a good insight into what EFT is, how it can help with BFRBs, and how to start using it. 

Please give us some background on yourself and how you started with EFT.

When I was 16, I became obsessed with finding different textured hair. And the ones that “seemed out of place,” like coarse or kinky hair, caught my attention.

The next thing I know, I started pulling those hairs out. It led to bald spots and a compulsive disorder I didn’t even know existed!

Throughout the years, I’ve tried a ton of different strategies. But they weren’t always effective.

One day, my therapist introduced EFT and tapping to practice mindfulness and release tension. When she first taught me how to do it, I felt weird and like I was making a fool out of myself…

Little did I know it’ll be one of the most effective strategies to help me stop hair pulling!

What is EFT, and how do you use it?

EFT, or “tapping therapy,” incorporates a mixture of modern-day cognitive therapy and the ancient Chinese concept of acupuncture. It takes your fingers or hands tapping on different acupressure points on your body to relax.

How do you use EFT Tapping? (5 steps) 

Whenever I feel the urge to pull my hair or am already in the process of pulling, I stand up and tap on my body.

1. Identify the trigger causing you to feel anxious, tense, or overwhelmed.

It’s time to dig deep and peel back the layers of what’s really bothering you. If it’s work, what about work that makes you anxious? 

Finding your specific fear/worry is the first step! Focus on only one trigger at a time on which you want to focus.

2. Create your phrase or acceptance statement

The goal of the phrase is to acknowledge the problem and accept yourself despite the problem. The acceptance statement sounds like this: “Even though I feel/fear ______, I completely accept myself/how I feel.”

When you’re first starting out, this may seem a little weird to do! But, I encourage it even for beginners so you can start being okay with who you are.

I know that so many of us live with so much shame and guilt. This quick sentence can make you feel free of any chains holding you back. 

3. Tap on pressure points 

I tap on the areas of my body that feel the tensest or hold much of my anxiety. These parts of my body are usually stiff. 

I tap and repeat my acceptance statements until that part of my body feels relaxed. I don’t set a timer or count. I just listen to my body and follow what I need. 

Usually, I tap on my eyebrows, jaw, and chest. Other pressure points for ETF tapping are the side of the eye, under the eye, under the nose, chin, beginning of the collarbone, or underside of the forearm. 

Use your fingers with light pressure when tapping your face. You can also use the fist and apply more pressure on your arms, legs, and chest.

4. Take deep breaths

While I tap, I also take slow deep breaths. Doing this helps me stay mindful and release tension without pulling my hair!

5. Create your tapping sequence and style that suits you!

I recommend making EFT tapping your own that meets your picking/pulling needs. If you want to set a timer, feel free to do so! But I usually commit to tapping for a few seconds and keep doing so until I feel completely relaxed. 

I mainly tap on my face and chest, starting from my face and going down to my chest. But if I’m feeling more anxious than average, I’ll repeat the process (from face to chest) until the urge subsides. 

Are there tips you have for someone wanting to incorporate tapping?

My first piece of advice is that it’s okay if it feels weird or like you’re doing it wrong! It takes some getting used to.

I recommend setting aside 2–5 minutes in your day to just sit or stand and tap on the areas you feel tension or heavy emotions.

But just go for it! You never know if you’ll like it or not!

If you’re busy, you can also practice tapping while doing your skincare routine! Whenever I apply serums or moisturizers, I take a few seconds to tap on my face and slowly breathe! It became a part of my skincare routine, and I love it!!! 

Thanks, Andrea, for the insight on EFT tapping! Andrea also wrote a blog post about this topic. Click here to check it out! 

About Andrea: 

Andrea has struggled with hair pulling for six years. She runs the blog Happy While Healing Disorders, which discusses hair pulling and skin picking. Andrea also creates useful recourses for coping with BFRBs. For example, the printable BFRB Starter Bundle goes over how many people get BFRBs, a diagnosis guide, the BFRB cycle, and more.

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BFRB Tips

Join a BFRB Support Group

BFRB support groups are great for bringing together people with similar struggles and experiences of skin picking, nail biting, cheek biting, and hair pulling.

It took me a while to join an in-person support group because I didn’t know what to expect and how to talk about my BFRBs. 

But I’m super glad to have joined the local Vancouver support group hosted by Jason Yu of the Fidget Podcast.

At first, I felt a bit awkward opening up to strangers. But soon, these strangers became trusted friends who understood what I was going through. Now I look forward to our monthly meetings!

We mostly meet online, and the occasions when we meet in person are even more special!

Benefits of BFRB support groups

People suffering from BFRBs often share similar stories, worries, feelings, and everyday struggles.

Coming together in a support group for body-related repetitive behavior offers the opportunity to communicate with like-minded people and share experiences.

Participating in a BFRB support group can help you feel less lonely, isolated, or judged. You can learn about new coping techniques and get ideas for dealing with certain situations. 

What I cherish most is the emotional support and motivational boost I get from the meetings to continue my BFRB recovery journey.

Talking about BFRBs weakens them a bit … as if it demystifies them?

I highly recommend joining a BFRB support group. Be assured, most likely, there are just awesome, super friendly, and caring people like you!

How to find a support group for body-focused repetitive behaviors

There are many online BFRB support groups in English. Unfortunately, it is still quite a challenge to find support groups in other languages. But I have high hopes that this will change once the term BFRB becomes established.

There are different types of BFRB support groups:

Social media and forums – online

Reddit and private Facebook groups are popular for online support. These are forums where you can have written conversations or browse posts from others with BFRBs. Sometimes these groups are a bit more anonymous but still great for getting information and support.

Some of these groups focus on specific topics. You might be lucky enough to find one in your language too! Search keywords to find what best suits your needs: skin picking, BFRB + country (e.g., BFRB Mexico), hair pulling, calm hands, …

In-person BFRB support groups – online and offline 

I find the in-person support groups very helpful. However, finding local BFRB support groups can be tricky, especially if you don’t live in a big city.

Gladly many self-help groups meet online!

Here you can find lists of BFRB support groups:

  • CanadianBFRB.org
    The volunteers from CBSN created a list of all the BFRB support groups in Canada. Thanks for that!
  • Picking Me Foundation
    The adult group (16+) meets online twice a month. Follow the link and scroll down to find a directory of international BFRB support groups.

BFRB Support groups:

  • Skin Picking Support
    This support group, led by Angela Hartlin, meets on Facebook but also online in person. 
  • BFRB Peer Group
    Jason Yu from the Fidget Podcast hosts a monthly online support group for all BFRBs. If you’re in Vancouver, Canada, meetings are in-person too!
  • BFRB Friends Group
    You may know Joyce Tran as @pullyoselftogehter on Instagram, where she posts awesome reels. Joyce hosts an international group that meets on a biweekly basis.
  • @bfrb.uk.ireland
    If you’re in Ireland or UK, get in touch with @bfrb.uk.ireland. They meet on Sundays every two weeks.

Please let me know if you know of BFRB support groups in other languages ​​and countries! I would like to collect and share them to make finding them more accessible.

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Coping Cards

I Can Do It—Again

“I can do it again,” aka knowing I’ll eventually get out of the BFRB-low, is a comforting reminder for me when facing major setbacks.

Sometimes I just don’t have the energy and strength to deal with my BFRBs. In these times, I’m fully aware of my skin picking and cheek biting (nail biting hasn’t taken center stage in a long time—knock on wood 🤩).

I know what I’m doing, but I’m not fighting it. To be fair, I don’t do as much damage to my skin as I used to. Maybe that’s because I’m more aware of my picking and biting?

Also, I no longer “dig” and patch up spots and use blockers early. Some of my BFRB coping techniques have even become new healthier habits, which is very helpful.

Of course, setbacks are always frustrating and annoying. But I no longer let them affect my days and my mood. Knowing I “can do it again” gives me comfort in pulling myself out of the BFRB low.

Once I have more energy, I know I can return to my BFRB coping techniques, do my breathing exercises, journal, and take good care of my inner child.

Some days are just more challenging than others. And sometimes, BFRBs are just easier to deal with than other times. And that’s okay. BFRB recovery is not linear.

I send you much love, Anja 💙

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BFRB Tips

Cold Sores & Canker Sores from Cheek Biting & Lip Picking

Have you ever gotten cold or canker sores from cheek biting or lip picking? Let me tell you how most of my blisters and sores result directly from my Body-focused Repetitive Behaviors and how I got them under control. 

Since my youth, I’ve struggled A LOT with painful sores on my lips and the inside of my cheeks.

It took me ages to make the connection that I get cold sores from lip picking and canker sores from cheek biting. 

I’m glad I’ve reached a point in my BFRB recovery where I rarely get them anymore (knock on wood).

Below I’ll show you what I’ve learned and which BFRB coping methods have worked so far.

Getting cold sores from lip picking and lip biting

As a teenager, I got one cold sore after the other. I already got a new one before the previous one was fully healed

Picking my lips made the cold sores get bigger and out of control. It got so bad over a weekend that I went to the hospital, where I got a prescription drug. Since then, I’ve made sure to always have the medication at home.

Finally, in my twenties, I realized that when I’m nervous or worried, I pick my lips or bite the inside of my lips. And whenever my lips bleed, I get cold sores quickly.

At the time, I didn’t know how to control the lip picking and lip biting nor the emotions that caused the behavior. 

Fortunately, with the help of some coping methods, I rarely get cold sores anymore. In this post, I will share the coping techniques that have worked well for me so far.

4 ways to help with lip picking and not get cold sores 

1.     Moisturizing lips:
I apply lip balm every other hour or so. Moisturizing lips helps prevent chapping and mask rough patches—the stickier and thicker the lip balm, the better. When you unconsciously touch your lips, the tacky consistency reminds you not to. I mainly use Vaseline Lip Therapy, but please comment below if you have better recommendations! 

2.     Exfoliating lips:
My lips’ rough and cracked skin triggers the urge to pick and bite. To smooth the skin, I exfoliate it with a mixture of honey and sugar (2/1). Don’t overdo it—you shouldn’t do it more than once a week!

3.     Wearing finger cover:
I wear finger covers as a barrier against picking the skin around my fingers. But they also help against mindless lip picking. Wearing a thumb cover makes picking impossible!

4.     Fidget toy for busy hands:
Fidget toys are always helpful to keep the hand busy and from feeling the skin on the arm, face or lips which triggers the picking urge.

Getting canker sores from cheek biting

I don’t even know when I started biting my cheeks. I engaged in that BFRB without noticing it. I often got painful canker sores, but it took me forever to realize that I got them from cheek biting.

It usually starts by nibbling the insight right corner of my lip. The rough skin then triggers to bite even more and increases the urge to create a smooth surface. And this is where the never-ending biting cycle begins.  

Cheek biting is the most accessible BFRB for me, and that’s probably why I do it most to seek comfort and relieve frustration, anxiety, and overwhelm.

I find cheek biting particularly difficult to control as it’s nearly impossible to create barriers and easy to hide the damage.

I got my cheek biting somewhat under control—more nibbling than biting—through awareness and these BFRB coping methods. 

5 ways to control cheek biting to avoid canker sores

1.     Rinsing with Mouthwash: 
Mouthwash has a burning sensation. Despite the slight discomfort, I rinse my mouth with it until the burn fades away. I feel like it distracts a bit from the urge to bite. 

2.     Wearing a mouthguard
The mouthguard is the ultimate barrier against biting your cheeks, lips, and nails. I wear it to prevent cheek biting and to give the skin a chance to heal when it’s too late.

3.     Nibbling & Snacking:
Chewing gum, hard candy, or the intense sensation of sour candy are the good old classics to keep the mouth busy or distracted. Healthier alternatives include snacking on nuts and sunflower seeds or crunchy veggies like carrots, celery sticks, or kohlrabi. (Hunger is also one of my BFRB triggers, so snacks help with that too!)

4.     Chewy fidget toys:
Snacking obviously is not a long-term solution, so I often use a chewy fidget toy to get the nervous energy out of my jaw. It sometimes helps to curb the urge to bite.

5.     Puffing out my cheeks 
I puff out my cheeks when I notice that I bite my cheeks. This little pause allows me to create awareness of what I am doing. I find it especially helpful when I’m out and about. 

Wrinkles from making weird shapes with my mouth

I don’t know if it’s age, but certain lines around my mouth seem to be caused by my mouth distorting when I bite my cheeks.

I have no solution for that. But I’ll just leave that statement here as it is. Maybe it serves as a motivator or reminder not to bite your cheeks 😉

Categories
Coping Cards

BFRB Beauty Basics

What has your BFRB taught you?

I’ve learned so much about BFRBs and, consequently, about myself. And I’m still on my way to learning more. I wish I had known many things sooner, but better late than never, eh?

In BFRB recovery, in addition to avoiding inflammation and pain, we focus so much on having spotless skin, smooth fingers, or stunning long hair or nails—to look a certain way and fit a certain beauty profile.

However, BFRB recovery is much more than that. It’s about inner healing, unlearning trauma, and getting to know yourself.

It might sound strange, but I’m grateful for my BFRBs and what they’ve taught me.

For example, these are some things I’ve learned so far on my BFRB recovery journey, aka my BFRB Beauty Basics:

💙 More self-love
💙 Less self-doubt
💙 More self-acceptance
💙 I’m good enough
💙 Creating awareness helps to heal in many aspects
💙 More self-compassion and patience
💙 Less perfectionism

What would you add to this list?

I send you much love, Anja 💙