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 💙

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 💙


Tire out Your Hands with a Stress Ball or Putty

Squeezing, stretching, shaping, and popping are the keywords for gel-filled fidget balls, stress balls, or putties.

This type of fidget toy comes in all sorts of textures and intensities. Whatever your sensory needs, you can get everything from super soft and dense to doughy.

People with BFRBs often have restless fingers that constantly wander around, leading to picking and pulling.

Squishy stress balls and putties are great for getting (nervous) energy out of your fingers and keeping your hands busy. 

Fiddling with these fidget toys will help relieve anxiety and tension. Some stress balls even have sensory features like different colors or scents. They have a calming effect and can improve concentration.

Strengthening hands with the stress ball

Another advantage of the stress ball and putty is strengthening the hand, fingers, and wrist muscles. I’m a rock climber and used training putty to improve my grip even before I knew the term BFRB.

I’ve noticed my hands get tired and calmer after playing with the putty. After some time of kneading, they don’t wander as much anymore.

I like to get two benefits from using the stress ball and putty–finger workout and BFRB relief.

In general, I prefer a firm putty to a softer stress ball. I like the playful stretching, rolling, and kneading. It’s like adult Play-Doh! 

But everyone has different experiences with body-focused repetitive behaviors and preferences regarding fidget toys. I recommend trying different toys to see what you like!

TIP: @pullyoselftogether uses a kneadable art eraser which makes a great fidget putty. I like that idea a lot!

Click here to learn more about how to find the right fidget toys for your sensory needs.


Tire out Your Jaw with Chewy Fidget Toys

I use chewy fidgets to get the nervous energy out of my jaw. And to distract my tongue and keep it off the inside of my cheeks. I also find the chewy fidget helpful in curbing the urge to bite my nails.

Almost all BFRBs involve hands in some way. Therefore, most coping methods focus on keeping hands busy or creating barriers and blocks.

This is not so easy when it comes to cheek-biting or lip biting. Nevertheless, I try to approach it the same way because, like my fingers, my mouth often has a (restless) life of its own!

As with my other BFRBs, I try to prevent or intervene in the situation before I do too much damage. Logging has helped me become more aware of when and why I bite the inside of my cheeks and lips.

This is not easy as I keep biting my cheeks to comfort myself and let go of frustration, fear, and overwhelm. I even do it to pass the time!

Cheek biting is so easily accessible; that’s probably why I’m struggling so much with it. I can do it without others noticing. Also, no one can see the damage I’ve done. It just hurts a lot.

I started using chewy fidgets to self-regulate and create a barrier—I can’t bite my cheeks or lips while having one in my mouth. I often use it while working on the computer or doing other sedentary tasks at home.

First, I used the munchie from my Invisalign treatment until I bought the chewy sticks. I chose these because they have the same shape as the chopsticks that I used before to create a barrier against cheek-biting.

But I’m glad to have something to chew on to get the energy out. I’m telling you, biting down on these chewy sticks is a full jaw workout! Sometimes it takes a while for my muscles to relax enough to fully open my mouth again 🙈

Another benefit of chewable fidget toys is that chewing can relieve stress and promote focus. Something you can never have enough of, right? 😉

Where to buy chewy fidget toys

Chewy fidget toys come in many different shapes and sizes. However, they get mainly advertised to children. They are usually very colorful and quite large. 

My chewy sticks are pretty subtle, though. I got them from my local mental health store—the amazing Odin book store in Vancouver. 

But of course, there are many options online. Just look for oral sensory chewschewy fidget toys, or chewelry (yes, chewable jewelry!). 

To save you some time, I recommend checking out the website It’s like chew toy heaven for humans!

Alternative coping strategies I use for cheek-biting 

  • Chewing gum, the good old classic, is always great for on the go. 
  • Nibbling on nuts and sunflower seeds is a good distraction.
  • I snack on crunchy veggies like carrots, celery sticks, or kohlrabi. 
  • Mouthwash has a bit of a burning sensation. I keep it in my mouth despite the discomfort. I feel like it distracts from the urge to bite at times.
  • I am wearing a mouthguard as the ultimate barrier to cheek-biting. I often use it when I know I’m going to bite my cheeks. It also helps heal the skin.
  • I puff out my cheeks when I catch myself biting my cheeks. This little pause creates awareness of what I am doing. I find it especially helpful when I’m out and about. 

Do you relate? What tips would you add for coping with cheek biting?

– Anja


I had a little BFRB epiphany when I learned about Homunculus. Have you ever heard of this? The Homunculus is a depiction of a tiny human being from 1500. It is an image of a person with the size of the body parts distorted to represent how much area of the brain’s cerebral cortex is devoted to it. For example, the mouth and hands are enormous, whereas the legs and feet are tiny. I found this image very interesting as I feel like my mouth and hands sometimes have a life of their own. Which explains a bit the automatic body-focused repetitive behaviours.


Tactile Design of Acupressure Rings—Perfect for Fidgeting

Do you have restless fingers and like tactile things? Then the acupressure ring might be something for you. It has definitely become one of my favorite fidget toys.

Through my BFRB healing journey, I realize how much I love the touch of something rough, uneven, or textured, like open zippers, zesters, and exfoliating washcloths. Even as a child, I loved the touch of terry cloth or the newly grown hair on my mother’s legs.

The acupressure ring is a perfect, easily accessible, and discreet alternative. It has spiky tips that dig into your fingers and irritate the skin enough to provide a soothing sensation without damaging the skin.

These rings stimulate and promote blood flow when rolled up and down on the finger. Apparently, they also improve focus and energy levels. I can’t confirm that, but I welcome that benefit if that’s true.

The tactile design is perfect for fidgeting while reading, watching TV, working, or problem-solving. I also carry an acupressure ring in my pocket wherever I go. When I’m uncomfortable, I can fiddle with it without anyone noticing.

Where to Buy Acupressure Rings

Acupressure rings seem to be quite popular lately. Or maybe it’s because I like them so much, and that’s why I keep stumbling across them in different places.

These are the places I found the acupressure rings:


I got mine at London Drugs. Maybe your local drugstore has them as well. The brand is called Kikkerland, and its quality is fantastic!

Mental health or bookstores:

Bookstores often carry fidget toys too. I’m fortunate to live in a city (Vancouver, Canada) with a mental health bookstore. The Odin bookstore has acupressure rings, among other fidget toys.

Climbing gyms or climbing departments in sports shops:

I’ve been to many climbing gyms that sell acupressure rings. Climbers use the acupressure rings to massage their fingers to help with injuries or to warm up the finger before climbing.


If you search for acupressure rings online, you will get endless hits. I haven’t had the best experiences with Amazon, though, as they break easily. So maybe look at the price or reviews for better quality.

I hope you find this tip helpful!

photo of hand rolling an acupressure ring
photo of acupressure rings