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BFRB Tips

The Power of a Fidget Ring to Replace BFRBs

Do you wear any BFRB rings or jewelry?

My BFRB fidget ring has particularly helped me gain better control over my finger-picking and nail-biting. It has become my trusty companion, little helper, sensory stimulant, and discreet fidget toy to use whenever I need to self-regulate. It sounds cheesy, but I couldn’t imagine life without it. 😅

My fingers have a life of their own. They travel and do their thing without me even noticing. They scratch the uneven skin, create hangnails, and eventually rip open whatever they can find, creating painful, bloody open sores.

The BFRB fidget ring became a healthy substitute that distracts my fingers and helps calm my nervous system. It’s a stylish fidget toy I can take wherever I go. 

I’ve learned and created a new habit of playing with the fidget ring instead of scanning my fingers for hangnails. 

In fact, I’ve replaced my old and unwanted skin-picking behavior with a new and healthier behavior—at least most of the time! I did a little HRT (Habit Reversal Training) there without even realizing it!

Although I still rely on self-regulatory habits, I keep my hands busy without damaging the skin and nails. In addition, healthier fingers reduce the visual and sensory triggers for picking and biting. 

Discover the benefits of wearing a BFRB fidget ring for coping with body-focused repetitive behaviors

A fidget ring can be helpful for all BFRBs as it is a fidget toy. I mainly use it to distract my fingers from picking the skin around my nails and nail-biting. In short, these are the benefits of a fidget ring for BFRBs: 

  • You can calm your fingers in public without anyone noticing
  • It is a beautiful accessory
  • It is a discreet fidget toy
  • You can take it anywhere
  • It is always and easily accessible
  • You can get the nervous energy out through your fingers without damaging your skin, nails, or hair!
  • It is excellent for self-regulation
  • Release pent-up energy

Find the Right Fidget Ring for Your Sensory Needs

You can get various types of fidget rings and jewelry that offer different levels of sensory stimulation—like moving parts, spinning things or all kinds of textures. 

For example, I’m receptive to moving little beats. This is how I found the fidget ring of my dreams:

First, I used a ball chain for merchandising tags that I wrapped around my thumb, and that was it. Through this experiment, I learned that my fingers are sensitive to the texture of the small metal balls.

With that in mind, I went to the bead shop to find a better solution. I found a wire split ring where I could thread some beads. And that was my first fidget jewelry. It was cheap, looked good, and was super effective for me.

Then one day, while researching fidget jewelry, I came across a gorgeous, minimalistic silver fidget ring with rotatable beads. My senses and I fell in love with it immediately. And so, I upgraded my DIY fidget ring with a lovely piece of jewelry. 

In summary, I encourage you to discover your sensory needs and experiment with what suits you best! It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive to be effective!

TIP!

Here are some keywords to help you find what you’re looking for: spinner rings, meditation rings, anxiety rings/jewelry.

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BFRB Tips

5 Benefits of Cold Exposure Therapy for BFRBs

If you’re looking for a new, slightly unconventional coping strategy for Body-focused Repetitive Behaviors, cold exposure therapy might be for you. 

I know, I know … this sounds like the least appealing coping strategy for BFRBs but hear me out. For someone whose hot water bottle season runs from September through May, I never thought cold water would be something I’d add to my weekly routine. 

I practice it by taking cold showers or swimming in cold lakes or the ocean (but only if it’s sunny and a minimum of 19 degrees outside). Let me draw a picture of how this goes:

It’s October, and I’m at this little beach in Vancouver, about to make my first step into the 13 degrees cold water. 

  1. My feet sting from the cold; they’re almost numb: “I don’t want to.”
  2. I take a few more steps into the cold water: “Why do I even do this?” (insert some swear words here)
  3. When the water reaches my thighs, there is no going back; I go for it and immerse myself into the cold water: “––”(my mind shuts down because my body is just focused on surviving)
  4. After about 20 seconds, I feel alive, completely alert, and all my thoughts concentrate on moving in the cold water: “I looooove it!” (plus, maybe some swear words 😉

It’s always a challenge to take a cold shower as well! I usually finish off my regular shower by cranking the temperature from warm to cold for a couple of minutes.

It may not feel great at first, but the tingling and exhilarating feeling afterwards is so energizing and keeps me from picking my skin!

Take the plunge and discover the mental and physical benefits of Cold Exposure Therapy for your BFRBs! 

I’m motivated by both the physical and mental health benefits of cold water therapy. These are some reasons it’s helping me with my Dermatillomania (skin-picking).

1. Redirecting Focus/Sensory Input

The time after taking a shower always has been difficult for me. The exposed skin made me scan for imperfections to pick at. When I take a cold shower, the adrenalin rush makes me feel great and takes all my attention away from my skin. This gives me time to moisturize my skin and get dressed quickly.

2. Feeling of accomplishment

Coping with BFRBs has much to do with being stronger than our urges. Usually, when we engage in our BFRBs, we initially feel accomplishment, followed by deep regret and defeat. When I have a cold shower, I also feel accomplished, but with the difference, I feel great afterward!

3. Anti-inflammatory benefits

Cold exposure may boost the immune system. If you have toothaches, tendonitis, or sore muscles, you also apply an ice pack. Our skin is often irritated from picking, so the cold might even help a little with symptoms of bacterial infections. 

4. Alleviates symptoms of depression and anxiety

I’ve noticed that no matter how anxious, down, or stressed I am, the rush I feel upon being in cold water always elevates my mood. In effect, I feel alive, happy, and accomplished, followed by a calmness that I can’t describe. 

To throw a little science in here: Cold water exposure lowers the sympathetic state (fight-or-flight) and increases the parasympathetic activity (rest-and-digest). And with time, you get used to cold water, and the initial hesitation wears off a bit.  

5. Boot camp for breathing exercises

The cold feels shocking, and you will naturally gasp. I try to control my breathing and slow it down as much as possible. I challenge myself to focus immediately on my breath when I’m in the shower. I breathe in for 4 and breathe out for 8. I repeat that four times. Focusing on my breathing helps me to bridge the initially uncomfortable seconds until the cold water starts to feel “normal” and great!

Ways to practice cold exposure

There are different ways to do cold exposure therapy. Maybe some ways might inspire you to try when you feel anxious or intensely overwhelmed. The cold will take all the focus and give your racing mind a break.

Cold face submersion

  1. Fill a bowl with cold water or ice cubes
  2. Submerge your face in the cold water for 15 seconds. 
  3. Repeat as often as you like

Cold application with an ice cube or cold compress

  1. Hold an ice cube or compress it in your hand for a few seconds. 
  2. Gently rub ice cubes on the face, upper chest, or neck area for a few seconds
  3. Be cautious of cold burn! If you use the ice cube or cold compress for a long time, put a thin layer of cloth between the skin and the cold source. 

Cold showers

  1. Have a regular warm shower and turn the water down to cold towards the end of your shower. To get perks for skin picking, I recommend not going to warm after!
  2. Start with 10­–15 seconds and work your way up. I usually shower cold for 2–3 minutes.

⚠️ Safety & Precautions before trying cold water exposure!

Don’t do cold showers, swim in cold water, or do sudden temperature changes if you have heart disease or chronic health conditions. Always consult your doctor before making any major changes to your daily routine!

Do some research before immersing yourself in cold water. For another source for cold water therapy, click here.

Summary:

Experiment with cold exposure to help distract from the urge to pick your skin or other BFRBs! The “shock” of the cold can draw all your attention to the tingling sensation and give you a boost of energy and good vibes. Keep it safe and start small with small doses! 

Will you try cold exposure to cope with your BFRB? Let me know in the comments below so I can cheer you on! 🎉👇⁠

This is my favorite swimming spot in Vancouver. I always see the same people there—it’s a great community of mostly older women 🙂
When swimming in cold water, warm up safely and gradually afterward!
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BFRB Tips

Finding Support and Inspiration From BFRB Podcasts

Listening to BFRB podcasts and hearing other people’s stories and experiences with Body-focused Repetitive Behaviors has changed my life.

I used to think that I was alone in struggling with nail-biting and didn’t even know what I was doing when I compulsively picked my skin.

When I discovered the term BFRB, one of the first things I did was look up a BFRB Podcast. I was thrilled to find the Fidget Podcast (English) and BFRB.care (German)!

I am so grateful for these podcasts because I can relate to the stories I hear, and it’s been so helpful to learn how to talk openly about my BFRBs. They’re really inspiring and keep me motivated on my journey to healing.

It feels like being in a virtual support group but with the comfort of not having to attend one. However, when you’re ready, I highly recommend joining an in-person BFRB support group.

By the way, BFRB podcasts can also serve as a coping strategy. It could be beneficial to listen to episodes in situations when you think you might be tempted to do your behavior. For instance, in the bathroom, when you’re getting ready for bed, or even in the car on your morning commute—it’s a great way to stay on track!

My Top 5 Podcasts for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors and Mental Health

BFRB Podcasts:

  1. Fidget Podcast

Jason Yu interviews people who struggle with BFRBs. These candid conversations give you great insight into other people’s experiences and strategies for living better with BFRBs.

2. BFRB.care

Christina shares information, coping tips, and insights into research on BFRBs. She also does interviews with guests and shares news from the BFRB community.

Mental Health Podcasts: 

Body-focused Repetitive Behaviors may be indicators of mental health issues, and seeking help can be a difficult step. Also, unfortunately, going into therapy is still a privilege.

Before I went to therapy, I tried to learn more and untangle my brain through self-help books and mental health podcasts.

Below I share a list of podcasts that have partially replaced my true crime podcasts — my not-so-mentally-healthy escapes. (Any “murderinos” here?)

3. Feeling Good Podcast

This is a podcast with Dr. David Burns on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: To get started, I highly recommend checking out the How To Crush Negative Thoughts: The Cognitive distortion Starter Kit! series. The book Feeling Great is also great for learning more about CBT!

4. The Cure for Chronic Pain

Nicole Sachs and her podcast taught me a lot about inner child healing. I have also implemented her “Journal Speak” method, which helps me calm and clear my mind.

5. Huberman Lab

Andrew Huberman is a professor of neurobiology. His topics are fascinating but sometimes also very scientific. Honestly, it’s a bit too dry for my liking, and I can’t concentrate very well. But the episodes are very informative and teach you tools to improve your mental health.

Do you have a favorite BFRB or mental health-related podcast that you just can’t get enough of? I would love to hear your recommendation! Please share your favorite podcast below!

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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.